Marketers need to think carefully about social media audiences
Online advertising compares poorly in relation to paid-for and traditional media according to a recent published Advertising Association report.
It also fires a worrying warning shot across the bows of those marketers seeking to focus their efforts extensively on social media. It claims that there are vast chunks of consumers who never use Facebook or Twitter and while those who do use social media represent a large audience – are they the right audience?
While paid-for and traditional media appear to have remained trusted, this is not the case with online – despite the fact that websites have overtaken papers in terms of the regularity with which people read them.
Online channels are trusted “to some extent” by just over half of the respondents, but 34% do not trust them at all. This stacks up against 69% of people saying they trust ads in newspapers and magazines to some extent and 20% saying they do not trust them at all.
The report, the Forum: Monitoring Public Opinion of Advertising”, commissioned by the Advertising Association’s independent think-tank Credos and conducted by ComRes, also makes an unpleasant read for those extolling the virtues of social media. While 36% of people use Facebook daily, 31% never use it and 71% never use Twitter.
But what does this really mean for digital marketers? Online advertising is still very much based on the traditional model of one-way communication, and this in many ways goes against the whole ethos of the internet. This is not to undermine it as a channel for advertising, but simply to highlight that marketers need to look at how they use advertising online, and for creatives to rise to the challenge of making it more engaging for the consumer. For many this may involve a big shift in mindset from placing the product at the heart of their activities to placing the customer at the centre.
Marketers need to think carefully
As far as social media is concerned, marketers really need to think carefully about where they are online, why and what they’re doing. With the sheer volume of people using Facebook, even the 36% using it daily represents a large audience. What brands need to be absolutely sure of is that they are the right people. Furthermore, it’s not enough to just have a presence on one or more social media channels, brands need to think carefully about what they do with their communities once they are there to make the most of that connection and engage their target customers.
We all know that the real power of social media lies in its ability to create a dialogue with a brand’s consumers in a way that other media doesn’t get close to. And it generates the most powerful form of advocacy, which is word of mouth. But while people go online for recommendations, marketers still have to let them know about their brands, and advertising plays a key role in this.
From a marketing perspective it’s good to see a growing consumer acceptance of advertising in traditional media, what we need to establish now is where digital fits into this.