Rethinking a Marketing Strategy: Promotional Products and Social Media Synergy

A study of Internet usage released by The Nielsen Company shows that Americans nearly tripled the amount of time they spend on social media sites and blogs between August 2008 and that same month one year later. Over the course of that time, people developed and altered the way that they gain information. Not only are consumers turning to online news sources such as or the New York Times online, but also people are garnering more of their news from sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This means that hard news stories- about the earthquake in Haiti or the latest status update on healthcare reform- are cluttered with personal status updates, such as what John Smith ate for dinner last night or the color of Jane Doe’s new hat. What’s more, consumers are hearing the news through secondary sources that cannot help but add their own personal bias.

Personal bias about online news also applies to brands. Social media sites provide an easy and uncensored outlet for shoppers to share their likes and dislikes about certain products, companies and customer service experiences. Thus, as consumers spend more and more time on these sites, effectively changing the way they share and acquire information, marketers are forced to shift their campaigns as well. And they are. The same Nielsen study reveals that while the time consumers spent on these sites tripled, the amount of money that businesses spent advertising online increased 119 percent during that same time span.

Corporations of all sizes now have Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts and blogs in addition to their company Web site. As the study shows, they also purchase ads on third party sites in order to reach consumers who spend time on line- a group that transcends many traditional cohorts and demographics. The constantly evolving digital world allows advertisers to engage consumers with their brand and create an interactive message that people can share with friends and family with just the click of a button. However, the lack of control over the online sphere means that companies cannot exert all of their advertising efforts in this realm. Instead, companies should create synergy between online campaigns and more traditional means of advertising, such as television commercials or promotional products distribution.

Promotional products, in addition to having a higher return on investment and a lower cost per impression than other forms of advertising, are tangible and longer lasting than online media. I think Chick-fil-A, the famous Southern fast food joint, does a great job of combining various forms of advertising to create a comprehensive campaign; they have more than 1,441,318 Facebook fans, 20,619 Twitter followers, and even a micro site, where visitors can interact with the now famous Chick-fil-A cows. The company uses these mediums, as well as billboards, print materials and promotional products giveaways to promote contests and drive in store traffic.  What other examples of synergistic advertising have you seen lately?


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