Will Social Rule the Marketing World?

54 Percent of All Ad Expenditures in 2010 Were Spent on Direct Marketing

No. It won’t.

The truth? Online media — all forms of it — increasingly rules the world, but social is just a piece of that converged puzzle.

When you look at the numbers direct marketing rules the world, at least from an overall marketing spend perspective (see above chart from the Marketing in the Round infographic), money is being invested in direct tactics like email marketing, direct mail, search, and more first. That’s because the direct marketing approach yields the most ROI at a 10:1 ratio, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

Break that direct expenditure further into the online spend. More than half of expenditures (54 percent) in Internet marketing go to online pay-per-click search in 2011, says the DMA (see guest post on Copyblogger for direct marketing tips).

That’s before we even discuss the online advertising and email marketing spend, much less social media.

But 90% of communications and marketing bloggers are absolutely obsessed with it.

You can’t blame us!

It’s our bread and butter. Did you happened this blog post in the New York Times or AdAge?

Hell, even the media is obsessed with social media. Online rules their future, and they know it.

The fact of the matter, especially when it comes to commoditized products like toothpaste, sales get done through direct marketing, in-store placement, search, coupons, ads and other incentive based selling.

Social — the ability to comment and like/rate — is only really a feature set. All of the tool discussion from social networks to blogs is, well, the debate of finer tacticians who use that commenting feature.

Just another reminder to keep your eye on the whole media picture as opposed to the shiny toolset. What do you think? Is social the most important marketing tactic out there?

(The Marketing in the Round infographic highlights stats featured in the book written by me and Gini Dietrich).


  • No, it is not the most important marketing tactic out there. It is one tool to be used with the others. Each project requires a different selection of tools because the product or service is different. The audience will be different depending on what you are launching, selling, etc. I think social media gets more attention because, as you noted, the media knows that online rules their future. I sat in on an editorial meeting yesterday and the second question I asked was, “How do you use social media for reporting?” They had the answers ready.

    •  Yeah, I think it’s a function of the media, old and new, talking about it
      because it’s the modern form of publish.  Well said, Susan.

  • I was going to leave a comment earlier but I got distracted by an invite to this cool new social network!

    This is well said. I would also caution people to beware of practitioners who are quick to dismiss a tried and true marketing practice in favor of the latest and greatest. It’s easy to call yourself an expert when there aren’t enough real experts around to prove you wrong.

    Gotta go, another invite just came in. So excited!

    • I would like to invite you to MySkateNet, the freest socnet on wheels. Hmm. OK, that was dorky.

  • ABSOLUTELY. Social media is just another tool in our marketing arsenal. It has its place, but should never be the sole focus of our efforts.

    One of the biggest mistakes I see is companies (even agencies) treating social media as a lead generation tool, when it is more effective as a brand reputation and customer loyalty tool. Carrie @ http://rockthestatusquo.info.

  • Get the today copy of Fast Company; cover story on social media! Must read it!

  • I think the lure of social is the fact that so many people look at it as easy. You just post some stuff on popular sites where people are hanging out and poof! Sales. They also see it as free. Oh, sad disillusionment!

    I agree with Carrie – social is more about loyalty than lead generation. As a consumer, I like to follow brands I already know. But I’m no more inclined to buy from those that I don’t simply because they tweeted to me a few times. It would have to be a really intriguing product or something you can’t get somewhere else.

  • Great Post!

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