I was recently asked this question by a reporter doing a piece on digital marketing:
Do businesses still need a website in 2015? With the proliferation of social networking sites, and more activity by businesses on FB, Twitter and others, do they still need to maintain a website?
It would be so easy to answer “No” to this question, however, it’s not that simple.
A marketer today needs to think about their marketing communications beyond the traditional promotional mix (advertising, direct marketing, social networking, etc.) and strive for a more comprehensive as well as integrated approach.
Today, one needs to think about presence in terms of paid, owned and earned media. These three categories of communication have different audiences, goals and results:
- Paid Media is comprised of traditional advertising including print, TV, radio, display, direct mail, paid search and promotions. Paid media is directed toward the target market in general and the goal here is to build brand reputation, frame the product experience and/or infuse my brand, as a symbol, with values and identity.
- A corporate website, campaign microsites, blogs, brand community, Facebook fan page, mobile apps, etc. make up the Owned Media portion of my communications portfolio. Owned media is targeted at the consumers of my product and the goal here is to enhance brand knowledge, reinforce brand choice and provide additional incentive to do business with my company.
- Earned Media is the word of mouth message carried by my most loyal customers and brand fans. It includes Facebook comments, Twitter (@mentions, @replies), Vine, blogs, forums, review sites – anything in which the customer creates the content. The goal here is to achieve an authentic voice promoting my brand and product experience. Customer recommendations are the most powerful of endorsement. The marketer can only indirectly influence this message, though.
As a marketer develops a content strategy, each of these channels will play an important role in brand communications. Integrating content across all three mediums results in what is called converged media – the most powerful of integrated communications.
So, to go back to the original question, one cannot substitute social networking for all marketing communication efforts. The best marketers make sure they are creating a brand personality using integrated content, providing an integrated experience across paid, owned and earned medias.
Laurie Dwyer is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing and the President of Strategic Insite, LLC