Serious industry conversation about adding social media to traditional marketing strategies is just beginning, relatively speaking – and the only constant is change. Successful marketers will see online social media as an extension – not a new model – of their existing work: providing the right information to the right people in the most useful way possible.

Here, we look at the added value of social media to traditional communications in marketing, PR and advertising; the transition from traditional to social media by example of television’s impact on radio; potential applications of social media to sales for book publishers; personal vs. professional use of social media; and additional resources.

Added Value Social media is a mix of concept and content. The concept is new – that product users have an equally, if not more valuable stake in the brand conversation than marketers. The conversation is truly two way and participatory – and must be in order for social media to work. Content drives the concept. Together, marketers and users participate in an inclusive conversation about a product’s value through text, image and video. Marketers may guide the conversation by producing content – and developing quality user generated content is every marketers dream right now.

Two good examples of larger user-generated content efforts are the Obama campaign’s Signs of Hope and Change video, and the upcoming Mofilm User Generated AD Contest for the Cannes Liones 2009 International Advertising Festival. An interesting aspect of the Obama clip is that the campaign was concerned about collecting too much user generated content – and segmented their email list to ask for content only from people who described themselves as professional photographers – according to Chris Royalty, former Obama 2008 Deputy Director of Online Video, in a recent Center for American Progress Internet Advocacy Roundtable panel on using online video for advocacy (video).

Social media offers unprecedented access to anyone who wants to market anything – but it is not magic. It is work, time, effort, focus, and strategy. Creating a Facebook Page or YouTube video is not a social media strategy. Rather, audience identification, messaging, metrics, analysis and strategy revision are essential. Flexibility and creativity are key. Seize the moment in the right way or it will pass. Social media is seen by many media professionals as risky because it seemingly concedes a degree of message control – despite research in psychology that indicates allowing open criticism of an idea strengthens the idea’s authenticity.

Social media is necessarily reflective of an organization and its culture. If a brand is willing to experiment, it will experiment with social media. If an organization is timid about promoting its mission or message – even if it believes very strongly in it – that will be reflected in its use of social media. When brands have difficulty or are unwilling to adapt, a result is the current status of the print industry: in general, it views itself as a business of providing paper with information printed on it, and not on being paid to provide the information itself.

To be successful with social media, brands must be confident enough in their mission, message, and value proposition to put it out on the web for comment, stand by their product, and respond fairly to compliment and criticism in a legitimate, inclusive conversation.

TV Everywhere Social media will transform the current media landscape like television transformed radio. Back in the day, TV generated industry hysteria that radio was over – but it wasn’t, it changed. Likewise, social media is changing the fate of print media as it creates industry hysteria that the newspaper is nearly cashed-out. It is not, but its form will change. Social media will evolve as well – and it may not always be free to the degree it is now. Using social media to market television is an interesting example that transitions through its past, present, and likely future.’s Live, Nude, Puppies – The Year in Viral Video notes that “[a]mong other things, 2008 will be remembered as the year that professionally produced Web video finally trumped amateurs with webcams.” Hulu (Fox) now offers a large body of cable television programming for free online – but television execs are working hard to monetize traditionally paid-for programming on the web. Time Warner has been standing back during the shuffle to develop a system that allows users to access TV Everywhere – As Long As You Pay For It.

Selling of the President 1968

The Selling of the President 1968

An interesting case-study that links the transition of media’s mediums is the contrast between the 1968 and 2008 presidential campaigns. The Selling of The President: 1968 argues that Richard Nixon won the presidency because he was the first political candidate to figure out how to use television effectively in a campaign. Can you imagine what the response to Watergate would have been had Huffington Post existed? Likewise, the famous example of the Nixon-Kennedy radio v. television debate further illustrates the point: radio listeners thought Nixon won and television viewers thought Kennedy won, because Kennedy looked better on TV. Kennedy played better to television – the newest dominant media. And, Kennedy won the election.

The same is true of the Obama 2008 campaign: they are the first presidential campaign in history to figure out, in the moment, the most effective use of social media in a political campaign. They hired Facebook creators to build their online organizing strategy, used social media the way it’s meant to be used, and won. Hillary Clinton’s Internet Director was quoted in the New York Times saying “[Obama for America's] use of social networks will guide the way for future campaigns.” Obama’s campaign was flexible with their use of social media and fearless with their message.

The combination of strategy and social media’s accessibility allowed them to thrive online. The campaign generated an extremely large amount of video – 60 terabytes, over 1500 clips – with pro-sumer (lower-cost) video equipment and uploaded it to YouTube with laptops from airport runways between campaign stops. With equipment that’s accessible to nearly anyone who’s seriously interested in producing video, the Obama campaign won a presidential election.

The winning factors were strategy, capacity, process and production knowledge – not just money. Social media will likely always be more accessible and less expensive than traditional media – but it may not remain free forever. High-profile social sites like YouTube and Twitter are struggling to develop a profit model to match their web-traffic – and online advertising seems to be only a temporary solution.

Since social media can be offered on a greater scale at a much lower production cost, consumers will likely be more willing to pay a smaller amount in the future for the same media products they paid much more for in the past – if providers can no longer offer them for free. Social media is to traditional print and visual media what television was to radio: it will transform the industry, not wipe it out.

Text Book Publicity Using social media to publicize books can be an example of applying these new media tools to sales. Despite trends in online video, some argue that text remains king of the web. For one, some books are now available as a digital download – and novels distributed to cell phones as text messages are a huge trend in Japan. and other print distributors will likely continue to develop and embrace the mobile trend. There are endless ways to use websites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media to promote new book titles. The key will be the same as with any other use of social media: hitting the right people with the right message in the right way.


AddThis makes sharing easy - and trackable for marketers.

Book websites must make it incredibly easy for users to buy a book, share content with friends, comment and criticize – and be a part of the book’s conversation. Most authors have probably craved this for years. What they need now is a blog.

Many authors have one – check out Internet Writing Journal. Authors should be using social media to talk with their readers and expand a rich, robust conversation. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – the whole social media scene – can be used to generate attention for a book if the audience is targeted, the message is right, and the content is valuable to the user.

With all of the focus grouping and market research publishers already employ, their transition to social media should be easy – if they’re web savvy. Publicity for driving book sales with social media can be broken down the same way as in traditional communications: earned and paid media. Some books and authors may be able to generate earned viral content on blogs, Twitter, or Facebook, for example.

Getting blog mentions can involve pitching strategies similar to print pitching – and Facebook pages and groups can be used to promote book titles, like the current Facebook presence of Post Secret. could easily create a platform for customers to email the title of a book they’ve just purchased to friends who may also be interested. Email is the cornerstone of social media. Paid social media can also be used to compliment – and generate – earned viral media.

Facebook Ads and Google Ads, for example, are extremely accessible for anyone to develop an ad campaign on a flexible budget and require only basic web knowledge – unlike in traditional closed-medium advertising. While books are not the product focus in the following two examples, they illustrate successful paid social media efforts that could be replicated in some form by publishers to drive book sales.

The new skittles website was certainly a paid web development effort – but the platform relies completely on earned social media. Likewise, Burger King’s recent Whopper Sacrifice Facebook application was likely a costly social media effort, relatively speaking (still cheaper than most corporate paid advertising efforts), but generated great publicity for the brand. Before ending the campaign after only a few days – essentially because it worked too well – Burger King gave away over 23,000 burgers and, by virtue of Facebook application logistics, captured the information in over 23,000 users entire friend lists, and of over 230,000 former Facebook friends. That’s detailed demographic information for possibly millions of people, captured with a Facebook application that can be developed for free. With relatively low-cost paid social media efforts, Skittles and Burger King achieved excellent brand visibility – and book publishers can do the same with some creativity and the right strategy.

PitchEngine: PR for the social web.

PitchEngine: PR for the social web.

A last example of how publishers can promote book titles with social media illustrates an interesting overlap between new and traditional media: the social media release. Social media releases are simply traditional press releases purposed for the social web – and they offer much more content and context to reporters and users alike. They are sharable, trackable, and a natural extension of traditional PR to social media. By flexibly integrating social media into traditional marketing efforts, publishers can create visibility and generate book sales with comparatively low-cost paid social media efforts.

Personal v. Professional Using social media, anyone who wants to get into communications in marketing, PR, or advertising can. It illustrates the fundamental concept of the Information Age – that knowledge is powerful and information, we can hope, becomes more powerful than money. Efficacy is a matter of understanding how to use social media effectively, which can involve applying it professionally to personal life. Demonstrating professional proficiency with social media can be done by using it personally.

It is not difficult to set up a blog account on Huffington Post – just email the editors and ask. (You do have to show that you can write coherently). In my case, I emailed a Huffington Post editor at 7:30am one morning and had my first blog post up by 2pm the same day. Creating your own video or blog can be professionally helpful – and platforms like WordPress make it easy to set up a blog or an entire website – and now offer simple, low-cost ($15/yr.) paid hosting for a URL without the “” suffix.

Whatever combination of social media you want to use – a blog, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter – to promote your work, it can reflect you professionally like a brand’s use of social media reflects the brand. So untag the Facebook pictures of yourself that you don’t want other people to see and don’t tweet yourself out of a job.

If you think social media is valuable and use it seriously, it will be valuable to you. It doesn’t have to be – it can be casual or not used at all – but it is reflective and that is important if you are a communications professional.

Resources In short – effective use of social media is like one famous take on effective use of anger: “Anybody can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.” For videos and reading that can offer more information, examples of current approaches, and strategies for using social media:

Toshiba Time Sculpture AD

Yes We Can Viral Video Chart
Guide to Online Video
Using Video Effectively

Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
, by Malcom Gladwell
How We Decide
, by Jonah Lehrer
New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott
Me 2.0, by Dan Shawbel


Feel free to contact: Eric Shutt l l Website l Blog l LinkedIn l Facebook


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