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Q&A: The impact of social media advertising

Opening your Facebook page might resemble a stream of advertisements, featuring at least one creepily personalized ad among a slew of mini billboards. Twitter has been sporting sponsored tweets since 2009, while Pinterest recently announced its intention to get in the advertising game by promoting specific “pins.” Meanwhile, mainstream media continues to experiment with new models like native advertising to offset the ad struggles that have plagued the traditional industry for a number of years now. But is it enough, or will social media be the favored route for online advertising as it continuously expands? Amy Button, social media manager at, a novelty t-shirt company based in Rochester, N.Y., weighed in on their online social media marketing efforts and how traditional media is still relevant in today’s increasingly social landscape:

Q: As social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest delve more into advertising, how does this impact your campaigns?

Amy Button (AB): As a small business, we try to do all of our advertising as inexpensively as possible, while still reaching the most people in our target demographic. Pinterest is a great example of how this can work, especially for small businesses. Over 70 million people are using it, and 80 percent of those people are women aged 20 to 50, which covers most of our target demographic. The service is free and with regular posting to keep the content on our page fresh, our returns are very high. For Facebook, anything we share on our company can be shared exponentially because of the number of people (friends of friends) a post will reach when someone interacts with us. It’s more like a personal referral from a friend. This usually gives the people they influence confidence in us inherently – if a friend loves us, so will they! In previous years, during high volume times like Christmas and Black Friday, we have taken advantage of paid advertising on Facebook, which is effective if targeted carefully. All of the channels we manage have the potential to heavily impact our business, especially when it comes to search (SEO and paid). I think business that used to focus more on traditional campaigns are getting much more involved socially because they see the effects each channel has on the other so they’re adjusting pre-existing strategies to address that trend.

Q: Do you find you prefer any advertising/marketing platform over the other – mainstream media versus social media?

AB: We focus our efforts online, usually only pursuing advertising with mainstream media when it is a part of a partnership with other local businesses like City Newspaper (in Rochester, N.Y.), etc. Despite the reach of mainstream media sources, you have to consider that our business was built and born online, so social and online advertising is a smart, easy choice for us. This is not always true with older, more established businesses that have relied heavily on traditional marketing in the past. All that said, quantifying your success online is the most challenging part of online advertising since results happen more quietly and sometimes create impact later than traditional media. Having an ecommerce website like we do is a great example—the customers we reach online can read tweets or see our Facebook posts instantly, but may not click the link or purchase products from us until a much later date. It makes measuring ROI more challenging, but there are a lot of solutions now that make it possible, and it is getting easier!

Q: How has the ability to advertise on social media impacted your marketing campaigns?

AB: In our case, it is a sad reality that our competition isn’t doing a very good job with social media, which gives us a great opportunity to stand out. Some companies still don’t realize that their prospective future customers are checking to see if they’re engaging on social media channels, noticing ads for other companies online, and making choices based on what they see (or don’t see!). Online advertising is the leading traffic generator right now, so when you post engaging content or place carefully targeted ads on other websites, you give your audience a reason to click through and visit your site, and once they are there, you have even more chances to inspire them to take make purchases, take action, etc. It all comes down to the same thing: share compelling content, answer questions, and be friends with your audience, and you will inevitably build loyal fans that keep coming back to you, no matter what your business is.

Q: Do you think there’s still a place for mainstream media?

AB:  Yes, spending the right money on mainstream advertising can drive customers to businesses of all sizes as long as you have a strategy that will keep your business in the forefront of the public’s mind, therefore generating new business. I think it is more a matter of making sure you have a compelling selling position, great offers, and you are working to target the right customers for your business.

*Check back on Friday to see what other advertisers are saying about their relationship to social and mainstream media.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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