opinion

Using Social Media More Effectively

Joe D

We hear so much about social media these days that sometimes it can get a little overwhelming.  But it is important to understand that while these tools can yield amazing results, the successes that businesses have seen from using social networking media have only come from using them effectively.  Anyone can create a Facebook account or start "tweeting" on Twitter, but to use these programs effectively takes know-how, ingenuity and a willingness to sort out "what works" from "what doesn't."

A study was conducted earlier this year by the folks at Worldcom PR Group and the Transworld Ad Agency Network, which surveyed 25 different ad agencies and 25 different PR agencies to see how effectively social media tools were being used by these groups. While all the numbers were different according to the industries that the various groups worked with, all agencies reported that their fees from social media networking had increased, yielding a much greater percentage of their revenues in 2011 than they had the year before.  16% of the ad agencies surveyed revealed that their revenues from social media were 15% or greater in 2010, with numbers increasing in 2011 to 20%. 

So what is causing the increase as the influence of social media evolves within the world of e-commerce?  Is it simply more users taking part in interactive advertising and media via Facebook and Twitter?  Is it because more ad and PR agencies are expanding their marketing campaigns to social media - or is there another reason?  In fact several reasons were revealed through this study as to why these agencies believe their social media revenues had increased in the past year.

As many as 84% of the PR agencies surveyed and 67% of the ad agencies surveyed reported that their PR efforts through social media resources have "kept pace" within the market.  However as many as 68% of PR agencies surveyed and 52% of ad agencies surveyed reported that their efforts within the traditional advertising industry were also "keeping pace" within the market.  What this reveals is the same thing that we saw in the earlier numbers which showed that PR agencies were much more effective in communication with customers and were better adept at dialoguing with their target demographic than the ad agencies were. 

This ability to communicate and dialogue makes the PR agency much more able to yield positive results than the traditional ad agency.  So while both types of agencies were able to yield growth and positive results from their social media efforts, the PR agencies did the best.  So what's the solution?  In order to "cover all bases" with traditional marketing and the evolving Internet-based, fast-paced social media marketing, firms would be smart to hire an agency that excelled in both PR and traditional advertising skills. 

As social media continues to grow and marketers integrate it more frequently into their marketing campaigns, you will need to focus on your social media skills on a day-to-day as well as long-term basis in order to keep up with and possibly surpass the efforts of your competitors.  Combining both marketing approaches together will help you to create a complete and thorough marketing campaign that will enable you to reach out to new demographics while still satisfying the needs of your current customer base. Good luck navigating the social seas and avoid turbulence!