The difference between advertising and social media: it’s all in the terminology
If you want a simple understanding of the difference between advertising and social media, look no farther than some of the terminology we use to describe what we do.
In advertising we have the target audience. These are the people we hope to hit with our messages. We don’t know any of these people personally, but that’s OK. We know where they are or where they’re supposed to be and when they least expect it we’ll load, aim, fire.
In social media, we have our community. These are folks we actually have a relationship with. We listen to them, interact, share stories, and offer up content that we’ve actually taken the time to know they’ll be interested in.
In advertising we have penetration. In social media we have conversation. In the former we force our way into people’s lives. With the latter we ask to be invited or invite them to join us.
In advertising we have the roadblock, a technique designed to intercept that elusive target audience in such a way that they can’t avoid an encounter.
In social media, instead of this holdup we have the Tweetup. We don’t apprehend our prospective customers; we host a social event they might actually want to attend.
In advertising we have share of voice, a measurement of how loud we can shout in comparison to our competitors.
In social media we just have sharing. We offer up content, links, utility, relevant information and whatever expertise might help our fans and followers.
In advertising we have impacts. How many times did we whack someone with our message.
In social media we have updates. How frequently do we keep them informed and in the loop.
One of the big differences between advertising and social media is that in advertising we create messages. In social media we learn to listen. Perhaps we should listen to some of the words we use to describe what we do.
Can you think of any other terms that illuminate the difference?
I thought having a target on my back was bad enough;-)
.-= Leo Bottaryu00c2u00b4s last blog ..Links for 2009-06-17 [del.icio.us] =-.
This is very interesting. Had advertising not preceded social media by generations, and you were presented with these two models for the first time, which would you choose? That said, it is how we develop a new model from the interstice that we satisfy souls and pocketbooks. Thanks for another razor's edge, Edward.
True, the difference is greater than the terminology;but the terminology is remarkably revealing.
Obviously marketers still need both. Advertising for reach, social for connection. The agencies who succeed will be those who learn to connect them all. I recently worked with someone from a social background with no advertising or positioning experience. Once he realized the potential of combining social techniques with the power of a big creative idea and the potential of PR to call attention to it, he became converted from a "social is the new way to do everyting," to "it's all about how they work together."
hmmm.. there's a big difference between target audience and community. As you pointed out yourself; one we have no interaction, the other we know (some of at least). And again with penetration and conversation - one is forced/intrusive the other is by invitation.
The difference is much more than the the terminology.
Great provocative post :)
Wellington, New Zealand
.-= Siobhan Bulfinu00c2u00b4s last blog ..SEO Workshops Coming To a Centre Near You! =-.
On many occasions, I've sat with clients and listened to them describe their business in the most compelling manner. I've often thought to myself, if everyone one in the world could hear what I'm hearing at this moment, it would propel the organization to all new heights. We advertise because we can't invite everyone into the room for a conversation. Social media changes all that. Thanks for the great post!
.-= Leo Bottaryu00c2u00b4s last blog ..Want To Be A Better PR Professional? =-.
Oh please, now have at the confabulation around PR and social media.
.-= Meredith Gouldu00c2u00b4s last blog ..We're going to HealthCampMd! =-.
Love the distinctions!
One thing... I'm noticing there are a lot of people entering the social media landscape who still have the share of voice mentality. You can't help but come across the tweeters with thousands of followers, with updates (or impacts!) concentrated on selling their wealth system or getting more followers. For them it seems more about trying to create their own personal "broadcasting" station instead of genuinely connecting.
On the flip side it's awesome to see so many who do get it, including advertising agencies that are embracing the honesty and transparency of social media. It's great to see our industry (and clients) getting excited about making a real connection with the consumer.
.-= Michelle Tripp (@michelletripp)u00c2u00b4s last blog ..Old Media Falling Into The "Digeration Gap" =-.
Thanks. Good ones. It is interesting how even subtle word choices can influence our perceptions. In the case of some, particularly the harder sounding (target, penetration, impact) they probably affect the way we actually think of consumers. No wonder so much of what we do is met with resistance.
That's funny. It hadn't occurred to me until after the fact and then I did remember the football (gridiron) baseball (field) sketch. His was better. But some of the comparisons -- military terms vs peaceful -- are similar.
Nice thoughts Edward - very helpful.
How about changing "Reach" to "Outreach" or "Reaching out"?
Not that reach and frequency don't still serve a purpose for advertising measurement, but I find many people don't understand the fundamental differences between media planning and social media planning.
In fact, how about changing Social Media "Plan" -- which is really not conveying the organic, fluid nature of the medium at all -- to Social Media Platform? I completely agree that we still need objectives, strategies and tactics in social media, but beyond that, it's really about ideas - more similar to a creative and conversation platform than it is to a media plan.
By the end of the post, I was hearing that wonderful sandpapered rubber delivery of George Carlin. Nice channeling.
Another parallel: self-selection vs self-organizing.
Jumping on Edwards point: Communication within social media is useless without over arching programs, goals, and campaigns attached to said communication.
Leveraging a community to do something is far more important then simply having a conversation. The leveraging just needs to be done with a spatula...rather then a crowbar.
.-= Stuart Fosteru00c2u00b4s last blog ..Do Calls To Action Work in Comments? =-.
Been there heard that. The idea that you can slap up an account and communicate for free is, in fact, an idiotic idea perpetuated by agencies that aren't rooted and versed in social media. However, I also believe there are objectives, strategies and tactics in SM as well. It's fine to listen and engage and "join the conversation." But at the end of the day we still need to inspire, motivate, and, God forbid, sell stuff. It's just that we need to acknowledge that first our community has to want to buy. And that's where the adding value, sharing, contributing something of use comes in.
Chances are you won't be hit with anything because you've learned to duck, or wear a bullet proof vest. Which is another reason that advertisers should not only change their terminology, but their tactics. Don't get me wrong, I love advertising and have had a great time making ads for more years than I want to say. But there are a few things about the business and the practice that strike me as more and more irrelevant and ineffective. That's why I'm here.
This is something that I'm continually trying to tell my clients who think that social media is the Advertising Field of Dreams-If they set up an account on Twitter or Facebook and tell the world about their product/service, customers will come flocking in.
I love advertising. I love social media. And I can see how the two can happily co-exist. As long as we recognize the differences.
In advertising there are objectives, strategies, and tactics. In social media there is just yourself.
Really well said - thank you for putting such a seemingly simple concept into such straightforward terms. Shocking how many people, and their clients/employers, can't figure this out.
I can't overemphasize the importance of "community" vs. "target audience." I'd prefer to not be hit with anything, thank you very much. :)
This is a must-read.