The Social Media Era of Advertising

Social media is the latest platform for advertising, but it does not provide clear data regarding return on investments (ROI), a matter that marketers appear to be fixated on. However, is ROI really worth worrying about when using social media for marketing?

Until recently, the main forms of marketing were television, print, and radio. These are the traditional approaches. Up until now they have been the preferred marketing mediums because firms can predict the outcome using these methods and are able to rely on it more heavily because of its consistent past, but most importantly because firms are able to determine their ROI (Weinberg, 2011). However, social media is not able to generate ROI in dollar form, making way for uncertainty and generally leaving marketers uneasy because they do not know how well their campaign strategy is working; in comparison to what they are familiar with and what marketing budget to set for the future.

What Weinberg chooses to point out is that although the ROI for social media does not come in the form of dollars, it can be generated by social currency, which occurs from the relationship investment made by the company with its consumer. Unlike traditional methods, this can create long-term benefits rather than short, drastically saving costs since consumers on their platform comment, share, like brands’ social media posts, which all their friends will be able to see, giving the company exposure without them having to really work for it.

At the end of the day though, it falls down to how well the company markets itself (social mix), as different social media platforms are needed depending on the purpose and objective of the company (Weinberg, 2011). Not only, but in order to maintain this effective standard, mission control centers need to be set up to allow marketers to monitor activity on their social platforms, engage with customers, collect and analyze data received from these interactions and apply them to their business and improve. Therefore, if they wish to continue to grow, their customer activity must be noted and applied.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 8.45.25 PM

(Social Media Mix)

Hoffman shared very similar ideas in regards to firms needing to stop fixating on the traditional ROI, and instead measures customer’s social media investments because that is where the long-term benefits will come from (Hoffman, 2013). Hoffman focused on the 4 c’s: connections, creation, control and consumption, which are all coordinated by the consumer. It is up to the firm to ensure they stay up to date based on these four principles because it is the consumer that is exposing the brand to new audiences and most of all, the value of posting one simple tweet could prove to be of great worth to the company (Hoffman, 2010).

In 2008, technology company Cisco proved just how useful social media marketing has become. Instead of advertising their upcoming product launch on traditional platforms, they chose to solely focus on using social media. As a result, Cisco saved over $100,000, ninety times more people show up to the event than ever before, one thousand blog posts were published along with forty million other online comments and the event resulted in an award for Best Marketing (Hibbard, 2010).


  • Hibbard, C. 2010. Social Media Launch Saves Cisco $100,000.
  • Hoffman, D. L., and Fodor, M. 2010. Can you measure the ROI of your social media marketing? MIT Sloan Management Review 52(1) 41-49.
  • Weinberg, B. D., and Pehlivan, E. 2011. Social spending: Managing the social media mix. Business Horizons 54(3) 275–282.

1 thought on “The Social Media Era of Advertising

  1. Pingback: The Social Media Era of Advertising | Kevin VanSparrentak

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