Debbie Laskey, MBA

Go ahead and admit it. Consider this blog post as a form of marketing therapy. As marketers, we’ve all heard that ridiculous statement spoken at least once – for others, much too often. We might have heard it stated by a co-worker or by a member of the IT department. We may have even heard it spoken by the CEO or CFO in leadership meetings. You know what I’m referring to: the statement that sends shivers down the spines of all marketers. What is the statement? “Let’s just focus on social media.” Excuse me for stating the obvious, but social media does not represent the entire marketing pie.

The marketing pie is comprised of many facets, depending on whether a business is targeting consumers or businesses – or is a non-profit that depends on fundraising. Other niches offer differences based on whether a service rather than a product is being promoted. But, there are key elements found in anyone’s marketing pie:

  • Brand strategies and corporate identity (creative direction for logo/tagline that showcases the brand personality, style guidelines, brand consistency across all media – including letterhead/business cards/web/collateral/customer give-aways)
  • Corporate communications (annual reports, brochures, facts sheets, case studies)
  • Competitive research/analysis of industry and trend research/analysis
  • Internet marketing (SEO, search strategies, email marketing, banner ad strategies)
  • Website creation and regular maintenance, traffic analysis, landing page creation and analysis (including links from email marketing and banner ads)
  • Direct mail (themes, schedules)
  • Advertising (design, copy, analysis of placements based on costs and eyeballs)
  • Public relations and media outreach (press releases, media alerts, media advisories, online press kits, expert interviews)
  • Events (tradeshows, seminars, webinars)
  • Evaluation metrics and budget analysis
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, WordPress, delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Foursquare, Gowalla, Plaxo, Skype, etc.)

Without a doubt, social media is one element of a comprehensive marketing plan. But without any of the other initiatives, social media ALONE cannot sustain a company’s marketing efforts. Consider a business that creates and launches Facebook and Twitter pages. Sure, lots of people may initially “like” the Facebook page and check out the updates as well as “follow” the Twitter page. But what happens when there is too much information to post on the Facebook page? What happens when there is too much to say in 140 characters? There are no main websites, micro-sites, or customized product or campaign landing pages. Without implementation of other pieces of the marketing pie, the impact of a company’s social media will fall flat.

Check out these marketing campaigns that included social media as just one aspect:

  • Kimberly-Clark: As cold and flu season got underway, Kleenex launched its “Software Worth Sharing” campaign. Consumers could send samples of a new product to friends and family by signing up on the main website ( The campaign was promoted via TV, print, digital, and social media advertising (Facebook and YouTube).
  • Jackson Hewitt: To inject interest in the 2011 tax season and generate interaction with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service online and offline, Jackson Hewitt launched photo sweepstakes. Contest contestants were invited to choose images from the Jackson Hewitt Big Check Facebook page and to videotape themselves passing it along to another person. The campaign combined the main website, social media (Facebook), and actual Jackson Hewitt locations around the country.
  • McDonald’s: To promote three new drinks and re-introduce a seasonal product, McDonald’s combined social media and fundraising. During the fundraiser (limited time of three weeks), customers can check in on Foursquare at any restaurant in Philadelphia and send their check-in to Twitter with a @McDPhilly mention, and for every check-in received, McDonald’s will donate $1 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Customers who participate with receive a coupon for a free McCafe Shake. This new product launch featured social media (Foursquare, Twitter) with visits to the actual restaurants.

There is no debate about the value of social media. It is a useful tool to develop two-way conversations with customers. It creates awareness and generates exposure. It develops relationships with existing customers and attracts potential customers. And it builds a loyal following by driving traffic to a company’s main website. In the words of Matt Dickman, “Social media isn’t the end-all-be-all, but it offers marketers unparalleled opportunities to participate in relevant ways. It also provides a launch pad for other marketing tactics. Social media is not an island – it’s a high-power engine on a larger marketing ship.”