Advertising is undoubtedly one of the primary ways that companies reach out to their customers, but the introduction of social media and online marketing has muddied these once-clear waters. After all, advertising used to be the representation of your company in the most positive light possible. It used to be gimmicks, catch phrases, and limited time promotions.
But with social media, the question becomes whether it’s even beneficial for companies to directly advertise through these venues. Essentially, people believe one of two things about social media advertising. On one side of the debate, people believe it’s beneficial for companies to present themselves through any available channels. And on the other side of this debate, people believe that social media venues are there primarily for people to be sociable. That is to say, they don’t want to be inundated with advertisements and promotions.
The people who take this latter position feel that coming into these new venues with advertisements blazing can actually harm a company image. They feel it alienates these companies from this core demographic, because the companies are simply not playing by the “social media rules.”
In general, it seems like the companies that are most successfully using social media are not technically abandoning the more traditional means of advertising within these venues. Rather, they are changing their definition of what constitutes advertising. Instead of direct marketing messages, this new breed of advertisements represent the company with human interaction, a face behind the corporation. Being available to potential customers and communicating with them on a personal level benefits the company from a variety of angles, and shows it as an approachable entity, ready to help.
In this way, every time a company interacts with a customer or potential customer, that now qualifies as advertising. Even if it hasn’t gone through the traditional means and methods of advertising, this is now how companies present themselves to their core of customers. Social Media has lifted many curtains on what used to be shrouded corporations and unavailable executives. In its place are checks and balances that force a company to be more responsible for their product, and ultimately, their brand, in order to compete.