Isn’t social media just regular marketing on an online platform?

Regardless of your company focus, product, or service, we can agree that marketing is a key element to long-term growth and success. We’ve seen it implied and often heard it said… “social media marketing is just like regular marketing, but through *insert online platform here*. Right?”

‘Regular marketing’, otherwise known as traditional marketing and social media marketing, strives to build awareness and engage your audience around your brand. They have both practical applications and similarities but also reflect a few glaring vital differences.


Traditional Marketing:

Traditional marketing is the old-school of the two because until the late 90’s many of us didn’t have online access. We have learned to recognize and leaned into the world of traditional marketing. Of course, who can think of Times Square without the cascading lights from all of the billboard screens? The grocery store check-out line has a chorus of famous faces calling us to read the magazines they adorn, in the hope of us also coming across sales pitches in the pages. Our families make memories together, watching our favorite TV series or the big Superbowl game that challenged our beliefs… but of course, we still talk about the memorable and mundane ads that were woven in.


Points of Traditional Marketing to consider:

  •  One-way communications – Normalized visual and audible sales pitches, talking at an audience with minimal interaction. 
  • Generally impactful, often entertaining memorable experience
  • Infrequent but tangible start to finish.
  • Examples of traditional marketing include, but are not limited to:
    – Outdoor – murals, billboards, bus/taxi/semi-truck wraps, posters
    – Print – magazines, newspapers, flyers
    – Window display and signage
    – Broadcasting – TV and radio
    – Direct Mail – catalogs, postcards
    – Telemarketing – phone and text messages.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing, on the other hand, yes, depends on those online platforms that we have all mysteriously found ourselves connected with, to some dedicated degree or another. Most of us have our phones loaded with apps, all notifying us of updates from our friends, family, and ongoing conversations. That relationship, depth, and integration into our everyday lives have become more apparent. 

Did you know that as of July 2021, 295 million people were on social networks across the US? That is about three-quarters of our country’s population! Even grandma has an account on Facebook. Instagram, as well as Facebook, and Twitter are expecting growth in the coming years.

Social media lives up to its name. It is, first and foremost – social! Entire communities are being built online around support groups, hobbies, interests, and advocacy topics. Interestingly, although these platforms connect us with people we love and other like-minded individuals, we are also relating with brands and the people behind them like never before. We have become comfortable with the phrases ‘follow us’ or like or comment below. There is an array of new terms to know; terms like ‘engagement’, ‘reach’, ‘impressions’, ‘clicks’, ‘leads,’ ‘organic content’, and the ever-changing ‘algorithm.’ 

Now brands are no longer only competing with each other for a commercial spot-on primetime TV. They are competing with pictures of the grandkids on their first day of school (oh! They are getting so big!). They are completing your nephew’s engagement announcement (what! He’s getting married!) and other pivotal personal news. This new competition for attention is challenging for brands but a fantastic opportunity!

Points of Social Media Marketing to consider:

  • Two-way communication – quick online connections and consistent conversation
  • Brand loyalty – Following brands, the faces behind them, and the values they represent, building credibility and trust.
  • Easily integrative – Website traffic
  • Targeted Audiences – Each platform has an audience that prefers it and tools to use to target audiences based on a variety of criteria strategically.
  • Popular Examples of social media platforms include, but are not limited to:
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest

 The challenge is that the social media sphere is ever-changing with trends, changes to platforms, new platforms, and marketing strategies. If done well, brands that connect with us build long-lasting dedicated relationships with their audiences like never before. The brands that tend to do this best? The ones that create organic content well. Organic content is what makes your brand relatable, approachable, and authentic. These take being innovative while consistently and frequently engaging your audience and followers.


Beyond being social

Social media is integrative and just one part of digital marketing.

We all know that social media is not the only digital marketing avenue available. Of course, what do they do if someone gets to know your brand and wants to know more? Go to the website link of course! “Social media is an excellent tool that businesses can utilize that will increase their search engine rankings. Google and Bing prioritize businesses with a robust social media presence. Social Media should be part of your digital marketing arsenal to capture leads but should never be the sole driving force” – Robyn Lee, our Director of Operations. Who doesn’t want that for their brand? 

Here at the AD Leaf, our social media team is always ready to innovate; creating meaningful campaigns, building long-term connections on behalf of the brands we represent. While you’re here please feel free to follow us on our socials as well. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn… We hope to see you there!


About The Author

Steph Bell Steph Bell