Back to Basics: How Social Media Differs From Traditional Media


Apples & Oranges - They Don't Compare

Social media marketing has been around for some time.

There are millions of Facebook business pages, Twitter business accounts, LinkedIn company pages and Youtube business channels. Many companies have at least set-up a page or an account for their company — but are they getting the results they desire?

Some manage their social media platforms well.

But, many companies are struggling and not getting desired results. They share one commonality: they think social media is the same as traditional media and apply marketing techniques and contents that they used in traditional media into their social media channel which they feel will work. 

Note: By traditional media, I refer to newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and other offline media.

Sad to say, the majority of them having such thoughts are usually the business owners and the senior management staffs of the organization. However, they are not entirely at fault as it is difficult to change their mindset since they have been doing marketing using these techniques for many years in the traditional media space.

I want to highlight some points that give a better understanding of the differences between social media and traditional media. There are quite a number of differences but I am highlighting these four points. Through them, I hope that it will be a good reminder for people who are using social media for their business and set them back to the right foundation by applying the correct techniques and contents.

  • Ownership
    When you place an advertisement or have an article published in traditional media, that advertisement or article does not belong to you as it is placed in the magazine, crowded with other articles or ads. 

    The ownership of the ad belongs to the media that you are placing in.

    However, in social media, when you set up your account on a social media platform, the ownership is you. You can publish what type of content in there as and when you like it. You can also have the choice of design on how you want your social media channel to look like to your target audience.

  • Connection
    The time you connect with your target audience in traditional media is short and only a brief period of time, usually the time when the article or ad is published for that particular day or month.

    For social media, once the target audience is connected with you on your social media platform, they are connected with you for a long time, unless they disconnect by “unliking” your page, you are constantly in touch with them and you are able to share information about your brand and build a long term relationship with them. 

  • Communication
    In traditional media, your ads or article is shouting and pushing out your marketing message without you knowing what is the feedback of the message. It is a one way communication.

    In social media, the communication is two way, when you post a content on your social media platform, you will receive feedback from what you have just posted. You can acknowledge these feedbacks and the audience will respond and conversation will start from there.

  • Content
    As mentioned earlier, since you are the owner of your company’s social media account, you can publish whatever type of content in it, unlike in traditional media, your content has to be vet through and approved by the publisher.

    You can also create a content strategy to engage your target audience in your social media account and you have the freedom to share on many different subjects that are related to your brand and at the same time interesting to your audience. However, in traditional media, it normally has some sort of boundaries and the content or advertisement in it has to limit to these boundaries.

I hope that the points mentioned above helps to remind you, whenever you feel that your social media marketing is not giving you the results you have hope, and bring you back to the right track so you can realign your marketing strategies and campaigns to get the desired results.

Other than the above mentioned, share with us what are other differences do you think social and traditional media share?

Richard Wong is the founder of GisMo ConneXion Services, a social media agency based in Singapore. He also trains with Econsultancy in Singapore and Malaysia for their social media and Online PR course. He tweets at @richardwwc.