Social Media Advertising: Choosing the Right Tool for the Job
Trying to decide which social media tool to use? Here are four questions to help marketers determine which social advertising model -- widgets or social applications -- is the best choice for their campaign objectives.
1. Al Pacino or Michael Caine? The role of the brand in widgets is a starring one. They demand attention and, like Pacino, hold the spotlight with charisma and aplomb. The widget is about the brand, and its success is based on its direct usefulness to its prospective audience.
Social applications take a different tack. Like Caine, the brands in social applications play more of a supporting role. Instead of commandeering the screen and generating a rapt focus, they set the stage and enable an irresistible interaction between others.
There's a trade-off to be made here, for certain. Pacino's roles are unforgettable, even iconic. Any individual Caine role likely doesn't immediately register, but that's due in part to the fact that he's in everything. So, too, with social applications -- the hits for the brand might not seem as big, but the reach is mighty, creating a lot more screen time.
2. Concentrated campaign or prolonged positioning? Some of the most successful widgets are part of a short-term campaign -- new product launches, movie or music releases, and the like. If the idea is to draw a lot of focus to the brand and the product, and if the rapid dissolution of that focus once the interest reaches its peak is aligned with the marketing objectives, widgets are a solid choice.
Social applications enjoy greater longevity, as their usefulness is a function of the social connection between people using them, not between a single user and a brand. For that reason, campaigns that are more about positioning a brand than driving a rush of awareness and purchase activity in a short time are well-suited for social applications.
3. Stand-alone or integrated? This is a trick question. Integrated, for both. Otherwise you're wasting your time and your money.
4. Get it done quickly, or do it precisely right? This is the hard, but honest, question marketers have to ask themselves when considering the social aspects of a campaign: Do we have the time and resources to create something that takes full advantage of the rest of the campaign and the unique properties of social media?
Both widgets and social applications require significant thought, planning and creativity to execute well. But the greater potential rewards of broader reach and longer tenure afforded by social applications also entail greater risks if a campaign isn't fully considered.
Terminating a traditional ad campaign is an everyday occurrence. Likewise, if an advertiser decides a widget has outlived its usefulness, there is some small risk of annoyance in disabling it, since whatever functionality it provided no longer would be available to the people who had uploaded or installed it. But for a social application -- one that acts as a conduit between its users at a personal level -- the risk transcends annoyance and could quickly reach sheer outrage.
Creators of social applications have to integrate them deeply within their campaigns for them to take root, and at the same time prepare for such widespread adoption that changes of any sort might provoke the ire of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of their customers.
Whatever goes up may very well stay up, so planning for the evolution of the brand presence while preserving the functionality and appeal of the application itself is a critical step.