Social media: Too much work and too boring for advertisers?

Conversations on the topic of social media are everywhere and everyone seems to want to get a piece of the social media pie, especially advertisers. Todd Defren posted a summary of the conversations he has had with various advertisers he has met with regarding social media in his blog post “Is Social Media Too Boring For Advertising Industry?” on his blog, PR-Squared.

In these conversations the overall attitude from the advertising executives was that they love social media for the fact that they can start conversations and get “fans” for free. However, when it comes to actually following through with these conversations that they started, that is where they seem to lack.

Advertising executives enjoy the free publicity that social media can bring, however they believe that they do not have the time to continue on the conversations that they started because, “that is not what they do.”

Advertisers are there to make their product known, sell it, and make lots of money, not necessarily to communicate with those who are supporting and purchasing the product or service that they are advertising.

In Defren’s hypothetical conversation, the “PR Guy” says that he gets that the relationship building part of social media seems mundane to advertising executives whose job it is to focus on the numbers and selling. However, isn’t relationship building and networking what social media is all about?

When the creators of Facebook and Twitter were building their social media websites I highly doubt they were thinking that their website would be a great place for Sprinkles Cupcakes to advertising for free.

In my opinion advertisers should be willing to have a member of their team dedicated to carrying on the social media conversations that they start. I think they might find that what they started could become more successful if they actually follow through with it.

This leads me to my question, if advertising executives are not willing to carry on the conversations that they start on various social media websites, should they just leave social media to public relations practitioners? Also, could social media be a tie that could link advertising execs and PR practitioners together as members of the same campaign team?

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11 Responses to Social media: Too much work and too boring for advertisers?

  1. ekozak says:

    First, I would hope that any major campaign brings together multiple divisions (advertising, sales, internal communications, PR, etc.) of a company to ensure they are on the same page and can coordinate tasks so each division utilizes its strengths. Whether it is an ad campaign or a PR campaign, multiple different groups must come together to make sure they are all using the same messaging so consumers are not bombarded with conflicting messages.

    Advertising tends to be one-way, mass communication as opposed to public relations which is focused on conversations and relationship building. That is why it makes sense that social media conversations fall more within the realm of public relations. However, as social media grows, I see many major companies instituting new positions focused entirely on social media. What division will this position fall into? I see it as a natural fit in the PR division. Of course, the advertising execs who are looking to roll out new campaigns will be able to feed content to the social media gurus, but the social media gurus will ultimately be in charge of implementing social media campaigns, which will also ensure a consistent voice and make sure that relationships are being nurtured.

  2. astrazzara says:

    Good post Elizabeth! I think this is where public relations and marketers have a stark difference. Marketers use social media to push a product/service and then evaluate the purchase numbers, whereas public relations pros know it’s about the relationships with your publics.

    Just because you have 1,000 followers doesn’t mean you have more clout over someone with 350 followers. I agree that I don’t think once, lets say a new pop drink, is launched and XYZ Co. sold 1,000,000 cans that they should abandon their social media accounts. People will think the company doesn’t truly care about their feedback but only selling them. On a daily basis we are bombarded with so much advertisements and many don’t influence our actions. I know I want to have a sense of connectedness with the companies of the products that I buy.

    If advertisers aren’t willing to carry on the conversation, I see no reason where public relations pros shouldn’t. In fact, maybe we should be the ones to start the conversation and keep it going.

  3. bjohnson says:

    This post makes a great point in regard to the division between advertising and public relations. I agree that advertisers most likely appreciate the free publicity but leaving open-ended conversation can’t be good!

    I think this also shows the value that public relation practitioners add to any marketing mix. Not only have we been trained in developing social media platforms but we learn how to harbor those discussions and relationships. I agree that both are fundamental in any promotional campaigns.

    I also think that if PR and advertising could combine then there would be a great partnership in many campaigns specifically social media ones. I believe both offer valuable services but in the end, relationship building cannot and should not be forgotten.

  4. Dawn Gilpin says:

    Here’s a recent post that takes a different perspective on this topic: suggesting that SM become its own department. Could be an interesting subject for a follow-up post.

  5. kinoshita says:

    I don’t see why there can’t be a happy medium. I think it’s okay for advertising executives to start the conversation and PR practitioners to carry on the conversation if that option is available to them.

    Advertising is advertising and that’s one-way. I don’t think it makes a difference if the pitch comes before the relationship is built or after. If the pitch happens right away the execs’ motives are transparent. If the pitch comes after a relationship is started then it’s obvious the relationship was built superficially. The most important thing is that someone continues to the conversation.

    I definitely think SM is a tool that links PR practitioners and advertising execs when they are working on a campaign. I don’t think it’s necessary for every campaign, but there should be a cohesiveness and understanding between the two when the partnership is necessary.

  6. bihrig says:

    2. I can see why advertisers are willing to start the conversation but not continue it. Advertising is one-way and not about building relationships. Social Media should be the public relation practitioner’s job. PR is about relationship building and social media is exactly that, relationship building. A lot of people are just figuring out that social media is time consuming and takes a lot of time and effort to maintain. I think many companies still think they can just sign-up for Facebook and/or Twitter and they take care of themselves, attract their own fans/followers.

    In 415 I started my client up on Facebook but told her she had to maintain it. She was very excited about using social media to reach customers, but last time I checked she hadn’t done anything with it since I set it up. I also set one up for my esthetician and again she has not grasped that she has to respond to her fans.

    Social Media is defiantly a tie linking advertising and PR. Social Media is a great way to advertise but the advertisers are not willing to maintain their efforts, that is where PR comes in. I don’t think advertisers should completely back off social media but they shouldn’t start something they aren’t going to maintain.

  7. ecain says:

    Erin – I definitely agree that any successful campaign needs to be approached from many different angles. I also think that in the future if social media continues to grow at the rate it is now, companies will have no choice but to add a social media division to their companies. It will definitely be interesting to watch the world of social media grow.

    Ashley- I really liked your soda example! I think that most of the time advertisers only see social media as a free form of advertising, rather then a way for them to connect with their customers. In my opinion if advertisers are not willing to carry out the conversations they start, they should leave social media to the PR professionals.

    Britnee- I absolutely agree that public relations and advertising would be a great partnership. Advertisers are great at coming up with a catchy and effective message that they want to project to their customers and public relations professionals are good at carry on the conversation with those customers, so that the advertisers message does not get lost or forgotten.

    Kim- You took the words right out of my mouth. I think that the most effective partnership for a client would be one between and advertising executive and a public relations practitioner. Ideas and collaboration from both sides would most likely have the best results.

    Britney- It is hard to imagine that someone would look as keeping up your Facebook as an inconvenience considering it is probably where I spend half of my free time. However, on the other hand, I can see how someone who may have never used social media before would see it as hard to keep up with. I think that we are very lucky that we coming up into the PR world learning about Facebook, Twitter, and blogging before we graduate because we now have a new skill set that, say a class that graduated in 2003 did not have.

    Dr.Gilpin- That was an interesting post! It would definitely be a great follow up. Thanks!

  8. n_applegate says:

    Very interesting post. After reading it I thought about what you said regarding, “When the creators of Facebook and Twitter were building their social media websites I highly doubt they were thinking that their website would be a great place for Sprinkles Cupcakes to advertising for free.” I think this is a very valid point. Our generation created social media on our own by utilizing the social media platforms we use every day to get a message across or “advertise” something. I think it is important for advertising companies to get attached to the idea of using social media and keeping up with it because it reaches out to the audience and helps popularize a product; just like Sprinkles Cupcakes.

  9. ecain says:

    Nicole, I am glad you liked my example! I think that if more companies utilized social media as well as Sprinkles Cupcakes has, they would see great results!

  10. cgharai says:

    I disagree with Todd Defren’s position on social media being “too boring for the Ad Industry.” Advertisers sell the product, but they are not in charge of the reputation their product conclusively rests with in society. Agreeing with “Time To Draw A Social Media Box Into The Org Chart” article (posted by Dr.Gilpin), social media services need to be better recognized. I am currently searching for jobs in California, Arizona, D.C, and lastly the Mecca of PR, New York City, and most of the firms I look at online have a Social Media service to clients. Social media is not marketing, it is a tool used to market more efficiently reaching the global audience.

  11. ecain says:

    Claudia, I definitely understand where you are coming from! However, I think that sometimes advertisers try to use social media to market their product and in the process can completely miss the true point of what social media is meant for.

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