Social media acolytes will tell you that their way is "the way" and soon there will be no room in this world for traditional media like television, radio, magazines and billboards because we'll all be too busy watching user-generated content on youtube, tweeting about the great sale we just happened upon, or reading blog posts from self-proclaimed experts like me.
They are, of course, full of nonsense.
It's not either/or. It's yes/and...
Social media is a new and critical part of the marketing ecosystem. It has made it possible for small brands and businesses to launch and gain traction with very little investment. It has provided a platform for large brands and businesses to tell their stories directly to customers and prospects. It provides those consumers who care a channel to interact directly with your brand.
While some traditional media – specifically newspapers – have been hurt by the rise of the internet, social media works best in combination with traditional media. Why?
The internet is a now medium. Yes, the content lives forever – much to the chagrine of Brett Favre, Anthony Weiner, and indiscrete college students celebrating spring break in Cancun – but on Facebook and other social networks people are looking for and sharing what's now and what's next.
So even though stars like the Bieb and JLo's have videos with over half a billion views, most marketing videos sit forlornly on Youtube waiting for a click. Only a handful of online marketing activities have ever reached what anyone would consider a mass audience.
Last week it was Oreo's Gay Pride ad, before that it was the Dollar Shave Club video, before that the Old Spice guy, etc. These quick hits make a great impact but have little staying power. They're viewed once, shared and then they're gone. It's hard to get the frequency to build awareness through online marketing alone.
In contrast, even basic cable shows like Pawn Stars, regularly draw five million viewers per week. For building awareness and frequency, there's still no substitute for television.
Each medium has its strengths, and each its weaknesses. While the landscape is changing, the death knell for traditional media is far from tolling. The best strategies use both to lead potential customers from traditional media to your social platforms to the sale. Because after all, we're not marketing for marketing's sake. We're marketing to sell something.