Social media isn't just social media platforms. That message was a core theme during at least one panel at the Advertising Research Foundation 2011 Think conference in New York on Tuesday.
Brad Fay, COO of the Keller Fay Group, said the firm's research, based on its TalkTrack platform -- which Keller Fay Group says is the only continuous monitoring system of all marketing-relevant conversations in America -- shows that some of the highest concentrations of social networkers are both in new and old media.
"Facebook and Twitter audiences report themselves to be frequent recommenders in every category we look at," he says. "We find that people 13 to 69 who are Twitter audiences offer 100 weekly brand mentions -- they are very engaged in brands -- versus 65 for the general public," he said.
But he added that traditional media also offers strong social value. "When people talk about brands even today, more of that conversation happens offline, face to face or over the phone than online," which he said accounts for only about 8% of the conversation. "The other thing is when people have conversations about brands they reference what they saw in ads, and TV ads are still the most referenced. Television does that more than any other touchpoint."
Fay explained that when the firm looked at a range of media, including print, Internet, and TV, out of 113 media, the top ten in terms of the size of its users' social networks are WSJ.com, the Washington Post, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.
Traditional media also leads within market categories: auto category brand mentions within consumer social networks are highest among consumers of Car and Driver, Men's Health, WSJ.com, Go.com, Sports Illustrated, CNET, Rolling Stone and Fox Sports, per Fay.
Unilever's Dove brand's efforts to reach male consumers involved the company using both big-event traditional media commitments, such as this year's Super Bowl, plus Web videos and social elements featuring New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Bill Pink, partner and head of marketing science at Millward Brown, which worked on the program, said each media has its advantages: TV was responsible for the big awareness boost the brand got among men, and its effects fell off at a slower rate than print, but online elements did not show any diminishing returns over time.
On a graph of relative influence in terms of awareness building, online appears flat, but Pink points out that a deeper look at online elements of the campaign reveals large differences in the effectiveness of Dove's various Web programs.
Videos showing Brees in the shower "were the most costly relative to Dove's other online programs, but had biggest effect relative to other creatives," Pink said, "and the most efficient. Even though we spent a lot behind it, we knew it was effective. So while online had a small incremental effect in total versus all media, within the online world we can see clearly what works."