Written by Chris Jacob, Contributor for ExactTarget:
Digital advertising has grown in waves with display, email, affiliate and search engine marketing being the major channels in the first wave. Then as the web, consumer behavior, and technology evolved, these channels were joined in a second wave by video, mobile, content, and social media marketing.
In a channel like paid search, even though Google dominates in most markets, the value proposition and method to market itself differs little to the other search engines like Bing, Baidu, and Yandex. Social media marketing has historically comprised of marketing on platform channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr where most or all of the content has been user generated.
So unlike search engines where the form, function, and advertising opportunity is largely the same, the various social channels differ tremendously in their use cases, content, engagement, and advertising opportunities. Thus their value to a business and the overall marketing and sales funnel differs greatly both at the platform and vertical level.
While Facebook is clearly the largest player in town, a lot of agencies and advertisers would traditionally start from the concept of a social media budget and then allocate accordingly across the channels they chose to invest in usually with the largest portion going to Facebook. In this structure, the team and team leader would then be answerable for the performance of social media.
Facebook has reached a stage now in terms of its reach and engagement and the ever-increasing budgets devoted to it that it deserves its own unique category as much as TV, email, or search does today. This is because Facebook dominates:
- Mobile: 1 in 5 minutes on a mobile device is spent in Facebook’s app, which doesn’t include time spent on Facebook on mobile web (Flurry)
- Web: 11% of desktop web time is spent on Facebook, making it the largest in the world (Comscore)
- Referral: Facebook was 10% of all referral traffic to major publishers (Shareaholic)
- Video: Facebook is the number two video site online (Comscore)
- Audience: 1.3 billion active global users per month dwarfs any channel in recorded history (Facebook)
All of the above dominance and variety doesn’t even include Facebook’s leadership or growing share in photo sharing, communications, shopping, search, and gaming.
So while some agencies and advertisers may not quite be ready to treat every social media platform as its own budget category, it is clear the unique value proposition Facebook brings for a marketer to reach their audience at enormous scale. Therefore combining Facebook with other social media platforms in allocating budget would seem as illogical as treating your TV and email budget as one.
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