Is Marketing Through Social Media Always Better Than Using Old-School Print Media?

Social media is all the rage, and even the venerable Wall Street Journal covered the dramatic growth in advertising on Facebook. The company posted a 52% surge in its revenue for the first-quarter of 2016.

This represented a three-fold increase in its quarterly profit at a time when other Silicon Valley companies are underperforming.

COO Sheryl Sandberg told the WSJ that businesses are asking how to market on mobile rather than asking if they should do so.

The ranks of users on Facebook grew from 1.44 to 1.65 billion in the first quarter of 2015. The company derived an average revenue of $3.32 from each of them compared to $2.50 a year earlier.

Many advertisers are now shifting funds from old-school print and TV budgets to digital offerings instead.

But is this always a good idea?

Master copywriter Bob Bly offers some cautionary tales about this trend in his Direct Response Letters.

While keeping the companies nameless, he described a couple notable cases of businesses who abandoned highly successful traditional marketing campaigns for digital ones without first testing the waters.

One community college had a highly successful traditional advertising campaign that drew tons of students and then changed their whole marketing campaign to a digital one—only to see their enrollment plummet.

Another example described a successful company specializing in laser surgery to treat toenail fungus. After a highly successful campaign using billboards, “people were flocking to the clinics.” The next year, the company abandoned this campaign to spend 25 K on digital advertising only to see their business decline to almost zero.

Bly’s takeaway message:

  • Traditional print still works sometimes, and digital can work sometimes. They can work well together.
  • Don’t discard a campaign that is working well, since your prospects are not bored with it.
  • Test new media, channels, and tactics gradually before committing to them.

While social media has produced stunning successes for some of the companies that have deployed digital campaigns, you would be wise to test first before placing all of your advertising budget in digital marketing.