This article by Mike Proulx makes the argument that there is no “social media” any more. It is simply brands, advertising to audiences. In the article, he says:

Let’s call it what it is: Social media marketing is now advertising. It’s largely a media planning and buying exercise — emphasizing viewed impressions. Brands must pay if they really want their message to be seen. It’s the opposite of connecting or listening — it’s once again broadcasting.

Social Media Is More Than AdvertisingHe’s not wrong, per se. Organic reach on Facebook is continuing to drop for brand pages, and Twitter CEO Dick Costello was recently quoted as saying ads could soon be as frequent as 1 in every 20 tweets. Brands are quickly realizing that social media isn’t free and that they’re going to have to pay-to-play to reach their audience(s).

The thing about the premise of Proulx’s argument is that it is a brand to audience relationship. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. do not exist for brands to reach their audiences. They exist so grandma can see pictures of the grandkids. So you can keep in touch with your friends from college. So you can connect with people you know from whatever era of your life, no matter where they live.

It SHOULD be difficult for brands to get their message in front of audiences on social media. If it were easy, the whole idea of social media dies. Proulx uses the term “broadcasting” to describe social advertising. If a brand is using it to simply get in front of audiences, then yes. Social advertising has been reduced to broadcasting. Done correctly, a (for example) Facebook ad should engage with the targeted audience. Driving them to offer a comment, share the post, or visit your website to learn more about your business. The point of social media has always been about relationships

Your relationship with friends and family will always be more important than your relationship with your favorite restaurant. It has gotten much more difficult to advertise on social media because those networks primary goal is not to make a brand page successful. It is to ensure a pleasing experience for USERS. If ads inundate users, they’ll leave the platform (witness the rise of the DVR in the last 15 years, and more recently cord-cutting). Social advertising done correctly starts, and builds, relationships with your audience, giving them useful information they can take advantage of.

At Caledon Virtual, we’re all about relationships. We’d invite you to join us on social media, or stop by our office for a cup of coffee, and learn how we build relationships for your business with your audience. Find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Image: Dennis Hill via Flickr CC 2.0