Social Media vs. Advertising

June 10, 2013 / BY / IN Blog

Public relations is full of advertising and marketing.  But, at what point does social media reign over advertising?  How can a company have a successful marketing campaign but not look like they are demanding to be seen? The line is blurred, but there are no rules.

Many companies like us view their social media efforts as a form of PR, thanks to the nature of the interaction between the brand and consumers.  However, as social media objectives advance from “creating buzz” to delivering return, it’s important to look at social media through the lens of your audience.

In defense of public relations, the answer when it comes to the question of social media is simple.  It’s an open dialogue between company and customers.  PR knows how to stay on a message and manage a diverse group of followers to deliver the message across a variety of components.

Public relations teams know how to manage their press and media relationships to make sure the message spreads naturally.  They know how to go about damage control when something goes awfully wrong, which it does at times.

But, social media is quickly following.  It is changing from a place to communicate to an environment that can help sell and inform.  Many people become involved and interactive with companies not to be a part of the community, but to stay in tune with products, promotions and developments.  Increasing business investment in social media is cohesive with the new age. This is clearly an advertising medium.

Here’s what we can conclude for the argument for viewing social media as a form of advertising.  Advertising is far more connected with daily business strategies and the objectives associated with certain products and services.  Advertisers are more concerned with achieving measurable results and meeting sales goals.

For social media to be on the same level as advertising companies, it would have to be closely aligned with product news, promotional offers and customer division to drive real success.  To be clear, the skills required for future social success lies with the advertising team.

So, who to choose?

The creative network full of contacts in reach? Or the guaranteed success of an advertising team, fit to make you look good?

It all comes down to what you are trying to accomplish.  The best way to decide is to look at what defines your success.  Is it the share of conversation, buzz generated or customer care what you measure as ideal?  If so, your efforts may be directed more toward PR.

But, if you can see a social network playing a larger role in generating a response, sales and other metrics then you’re thinking of social media AS advertising.  This can work, but only if it’s done right.

What some may overlook is that social media really is a form of advertising.  Without all the rules, words and contracts—it’s a different kind. Social media not only connects but promotes, placing a twist on traditional forms.  Although the way it is seen has changed, advertising still exists, and it will always hold a real presence in our world.

To get the best of both worlds, contact our team today at 248.521.2900 or e-mail us at

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