Most people agree that all media is meant to be social, and that sooner or later all effective media will incorporate more social elements into its creation and distribution. The same logic applies even more so to marketing. All effective marketing activities, from advertising to PR to CRM, will incorporate social media functionality, and the performance of all marketing will be better tracked through social media monitoring. Perhaps that's why there's so much confusion from one company to the next on the role of social media in their organization. Social media is not its own discipline in marketing, as much as a new skill set required for every other marketing discipline.
So when the debate comes up on whether social media is bought, earned or owned media, the answer is simply "yes." While it seems easy for most brands to understand how social media augments and extends their CRM, PR and communications practices, most struggle with properly incorporating the benefits of social technologies into their paid advertising efforts. Too often money is wasted when marketers buy advertising without incorporating social elements and without monitoring the social activities resulting from a paid campaign. Even more often, marketers miss opportunities to execute compelling campaigns by isolating "social media" with its own initiative rather than focusing on how social the larger paid media effort should be.
The first step is to realize that all digital advertising is already social media advertising. Every digital advertising campaign should be designed and trafficked to maximize consumer interaction and can be measured by resulting social activities (liking, sharing, commenting), because these are metrics that extend campaign ROI and can indicate how impactful the actual campaign was.
A media company could build a digital presence without social media elements, but it would be a terrible digital presence. In the same vein, a digital marketing campaign can be executed without social media elements, but it would be a terrible digital marketing campaign. Even television ads are ending in calls to connect on Facebook -- but I think you can expect your digital dollars to do a little better.
It was to address the challenge of understanding exactly how to standardize social media advertising practices that I agreed to join the board of the Social Media Advertising Consortium (if your company does any marketing, I highly recommend getting involved). The question of how to best incorporate social elements, practices and technologies into paid advertising efforts will define winners and losers in digital marketing for the next two years and the entire marketing industry over the next decade. Seems like a subject worth discussing to me.
What do you think? Drop a comment below, and follow more of the discussion (and some whining about training for a marathon -- I hate running) on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joemarchese.