Well, social media marketing certainly is something. Something that’s gotten very big, very quickly. Just look at the avalanche of Web articles about it, blogs and Webinars about it. And the strips of marketing messages you see on the nearly every blog or website you visit.
But I’m hearing lately from some quarters that although social media marketing is part of many marketing plans, it’s not necessarily the whole plan. Not for all products and services. And not for all audiences.
Is social media marketing all there is?
The headline on an article asks, “Can Marketers Catch Up With Millennials?” But my question is, “How many marketers are wrongly using social media marketing to promote products and services to the so-called
“millennials” (ages 18-34) and ignoring their natural target audiences, who also use social media?”
Millennials get almost all their info and social interaction from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other Web vehicles. But take a look at the article and bar charts here indicating who uses social media, by age group.
Notice that a whopping 71% of users aged 35-44 in this study also use social media. Even among the doddering 45-54 group, a 59% majority use social media. Over 55, the number drops to a still respectable 43%, and the overall total is impressive: 64% of Internet users of all ages in the study use social media.
So why are so many marketers so hot to use social media marketing to reach 18-34-year-olds?
May I suggest that this age group is a great target audience for hip new electronic toys and phones, but not a very good target audience for plumbing supplies, industrial machinery, construction materials, architectural designs, group health insurance, senior mobility products, hospitals, CPA firms, and so on. Customers for these products and services tend to rely less on Internet sources for information and more on print media, radio and TV, and of course, peer recommendations (number one trusted information resource across the board).
So what I’m hearing more and more lately are whispers of, “Advertising is coming back.” And I’ve seen this article just today, advising B2B marketers to keep an open mind to media other than social media for marketing. Heresy? Not to those who want to spend their budgets most effectively to reach their target customers.
The fact is, advertising has never gone away. But because of the “real and honest” tone of successful social media marketing programs, it’s had to change its tone. The era of “yell, tell and sell” is long over. Today, whether marketing messages are delivered online, on paper, on TV, on radio or on billboards, they need to engage users with relevant content and try to start a conversation that leads to a customer relationship.
So I’m glad to discuss social media marketing with a client, and I may also suggest other media that can reach their target audience. Especially in B2B, you can’t count on a C-level decision-maker to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn. Yes, they may read online business articles, but they also read printed magazines, and they watch TV at home, don’t they?
In summary, not every potential customer is a millennial. We need to keep open minds social media marketing AND other media to reach those who fall into other age brackets, psychographics and demographics.
Nielsen provides an annual survey on “Trust and Advertising,” rating various media on their ability to earn trust from consumers. Here’s a SlideShare of the global report from 2009. You’ll have to tease out the info for America, but there are some facts that apply globally.
What do you think? Are some marketers are mistakenly running after millennials and marketing via social media their audiences may never see? Or are some marketers stuck in the past and ignoring the potential of social media AND other media to reach their target audiences?