The Great Social Media Debate

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube…three years ago as a new college grad, I had never heard of most of these words, much less did I think I would use them as a part of my career. And, I especially did not think they would be  as much of a part of my day to day life as watching the news or reading the paper were to my parents’ generation. 

All of these networking sites plus blogging, text message marketing, etc combined equal Social Media or Web 2.0. You probably have heard it debated on the news or internet. Everyone is wondering the same thing, is it just a fad or is it going to be the media of the future? Depending on who you ask, you’ll come across different perspectives and opinions. I recently asked myself (and Google) the same question and came across this video with some interesting facts on Social Media. The statistics are pretty shocking. As an advertiser, they can be overwhelming and possibly even scary.

At Forte, we’ve seen a range of reaction from clients as they see the “traditional media” decline and Social Media usage climb. Some want to dive head first and leave the “traditional media (TV, cable, print, etc)” behind. Others are happy to run in the opposite direction and not acknowledge Social Media exists. This is where it is our job, as media gurus, to guide them in the right direction. Many forms of social media simply do not make sense for certain clients to “Tweet” about their product or create a Facebook page to become their “fan”. Enter advertising pros, such as ourselves, to develop a plan that is best suited for each client and their specific needs.

In the Social Media hype, it is important to not discount traditional media. Here at Forte, we certainly do not. We believe it is the foundation of a solid media plan. However, we cannot ignore the overwhelming statistics showing the rise in Social Media. We believe it is important to layer Social Media into an already strong foundation of traditional media in order to build the strongest media “house” or plan possible.

So – back to the original question, is Social Media just a fad or is it going to be around for a while? It is almost laughable after seeing statistics  on the video above, i.e. Facebook adding 100 MILLION users in less than 9 months. We are in a new media age, no doubt about it. Trying to answer a question such as that would be like asking years ago, ‘So, these computer things, you think they’ll be around for a while?’ or ‘You think we’ll be using that telephone thing in years to come? No way’. Technology is constantly changing, we have no way of knowing what will be next or what  is here to stay and what will disappear. But, that is not a new problem in advertising. Advertising is based on changing technology and new mediums. Instead of debating the question, it is our job to embrace Social Media and keep an open mind about its future.

I’ll leave you with something to think about, a quote I found from the Social Media discussion video at PSFK Conference New York 2008:

The  media overall has become  social, and  the  social  has become  media.”  – Steve Rubel  (Edleman)