Social Media Marketing: Future or HOAX?

Social Media Tools Map

Just when we thought Social Media was raising its head high enough for everyone to sit up and take notice, we got to attend a workshop conducted yesterday by Vijay Singh and Rajesh Ghagte of 141Sercon on Non-traditional Media and Below-The-Line Marketing at IIM Lucknow. It couldn’t have come at a better time – The PGP1’s (first year students at IIM Lucknow) are studying Marketing Communication as a part of the MM-II (Marketing Management-II) course.

It’s a session that I personally enjoyed a lot and in general, they did end up creating a certian amount of ‘buzz’ about the workshop. My take-aways from the session were specifically in an area that has been of particular interest to me – which is precisely what the workshop was about: Social Media Marketing: as a subset of Below-The-Line marketing (BTL) activities undertaken by a company. Specifically, if I were to summarize:

  • Earlier consumers used to follow the AIDA path – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. They no longer do that.
  • While Above-The-Line (ATL) activities are more in BROADCAST mode (Television, Print, Radio, etc)., BTL activities are more personalized (NARROWCAST).
  • There are no ‘standard’ metrics for Social Media: For instance, there are no universally agreed upon metrics like ‘TRP Ratings’ in case of Television of ‘Readership’ surveys in case of Print Media.
  • ATL – 1-way conversation.
    BTL – 2-way conversation
  • ATL – No specific ‘Call to Action’.
    BTL – There is a specific ‘Call to Action’ – which can be in the form of ‘BUY’, ‘TRY’, of ‘REFER, among others.
  • ATL: The most important Question is “WHO” are we targetting!
    BTL: The most important question is “HOW” do we target – What is the specific campaign about?

What also came out of the workshop is that most marketing managers – especially, the ones who are still focussed entirely on traditional media & ATL, tend to have the opinion that –

“Ok.. Let us have a social media presence, but if there is anything negative that comes up, we will pull out.”

Something that is not possible in a place as open and transparent as the internet. Which is why, most of these managers eventually end up putting just their television commercials (TVCs) on Youtube – that’s it, nothing else! Social Media is democratic andwe have to live with it, if we want to ‘be’ in it.

Let me leave you with a video –

An interesting article on Social Media’s impact on Branding.

[Title Picture Courtsey: Marjorie Signer.]

7 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing: Future or HOAX?

  1. @ Priyanka,

    The video link has been corrected. Thanks for pointing this out! 🙂

    And BTL stands for ‘Below-The-Line’ marketing activities – which is basically any marketing activity, other than those which are on mass media. The latter are called ‘Above-The-Line’ marketing activities .. or ATL.

  2. Hmm surprising… I had sometime back attended a conference where the discussion was whether social media can be considered mass media?

    Lot of positive responses to that… so social media is not clearly BTL.. maybe its kind of BTL but also a little ATL. ?

  3. @ Priyanka,

    Thanks a lot for bringing this up. As per my understanding of ATL, it encompasses everything in BROADCAST Mode.

    Some forms (maybe not all) forms of Social Media are NARROWCAST… in the sense, that they are individual applications, web-pages that focus on ENGAGING a SPECIFIC User.. and not a TV AD, or a BILLBOARD that the whole world can see.

    So I think Social Media is about defining your specific customer set .. and engaging with her. Rather, than advertising to all and sundry, as in ATL. Hence, in my opinion Social Media is definitely BTL.

    Would like to know your take..

  4. Twitter stream, facebook page, youtube video or a pop up ad on a leading site are all open for all to see.
    So depending on the popularity of the campaign and type of campaign.. it could be ATL.
    Like a pop up ad on leading website, moreover this ad can be made interactive… so social + Broadcast?

  5. Priyanka –

    You’re right. Youtube videos are there for all to see. .. BUT … The user has to SEARCH his or her way to the Ad on Social Media. So, the Ad on Social media is visible to the SPECIFIC user who WANTS to see it.. and not being BROADCASTED to all.

    Whereas in case of traditional media (ATL) in Broadcase mode.. the AD finds the user. The user does not surf to a channel to see a Cadbury Ad… He goes there to watch his favourite serial / sport.. and ENDS UP being exposed to the Ad. This is ATL.

    And regarding your point about Pop-ups, Pop-ups are Internet Advertisements. Let us not confuse that with Social Media. Internet Ads (for instance, Google Ads) or any other pop-ups are NOT social media. They are.. well, internet ads.

  6. I can see the difference.. and why most of social media is BTL..

    but about the ads bit.. lot of people are looking at internet ads with more interactivity and thus there might soon be a whole new genre of social media ads…

    For eg. ads on Facebook, where the user gets the opportunity to like or unlike the ad, the fb fan page ad which tells you x no. of your fb friends are fans too.. thats social media + adverts ..

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