Social Media & Display Advertising: Perfect Marriage

If you type the phrase “why social media marketing” into Google, you’ll encounter page after page of results on the benefits of marketing through social channels. And the latest data doesn’t lie—according to a recent eMarketer report, “In 2011, four out of five US businesses with 100 or more employees will use social media marketing” this year.

What is it that makes social media such a no-brainer for online marketers? Sure, it’s free, but there’s more to it than that. Social Media Marketing gives marketers instantaneous access to hundreds and sometimes thousands of potentially qualified prospects and customers. It’s a fantastic channel for educating and building awareness of your company, product, or service. And at the heart of it all, it is a great way to build your brand.

For a lot of marketers, especially those in the B2B space, the idea of investing in a brand has not always been a top priority. But with social media popping up more and more on 2011 marketing budgets, the value of brand building is suddenly gaining popularity (and the budget to boot). Which begs the question—if you’re investing the budget and resources into social media marketing, why are you not investing in display advertising as well? (But if you already are, then you’re ahead of the game.)

Practically foundational to the marketing discipline, advertising used to be limited to the big brands and agencies that could afford it. However, thanks to the Web, digital advertising is now an affordable marketing channel for companies of any size. (e.g. Read The New York Times online, and you’re likely to see a display ad for Google on the same page as an ad for your local art museum.) The playing field has leveled for display advertising, and there’s never been a better time for online marketers to take advantage of this channel in their brand development efforts.

However, if you still need to be convinced of the value of display advertising, let’s take a look at all the reasons why you love social media marketing—and discover the strong parallels between these two channels.

Educate and Build Customer Awareness

Social media and display advertising are both key ways to educate and build awareness. (But display reaches people wherever they travel online.) For some time now, B2B marketers have recognized the need to educate and build awareness before they even capture a lead’s contact information. More and more people are using the Web to research solutions to their business challenges before they even speak to a salesperson, placing the onus on marketers to stay ahead of the game by disseminating valuable content and building a brand for themselves as early as possible.

Social media is definitely one way to “spread the word,” but once your prospects leave your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page, what now? Targeted display advertising lets you continue to build awareness around your brand wherever your prospects go on the Web, whether it’s a news site, an online industry magazine, or a search portal.

Optimize the Entire Marketing Mix

Social media and display advertising reinforce the effectiveness of other marketing channels. There’s been a lot written lately about how to better integrate social media strategies to the tried-and-true online marketing channels such as email and search. Reason being that social networks are just one of the touch points that marketers should consider as influential to a business buyer’s decision-making process.

Similarly, display advertising has proven to increase lift across other marketing channels such as search. In one comScore report, display advertising campaigns increased the likelihood of consumers conducting a search query using the advertiser’s branded terms (a lift of at least 38% over a four week period). Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a channel to boost conversions across their entire marketing mix?

Influencing Qualified Prospects

Social media and display advertising are both great at influencing anonymous leads—but only display lets you target truly qualified prospects. What is often most frustrating to a B2B marketer is how to impact and nurture anonymous leads. Sure, you can use marketing automation solutions to track them once they land on your website, but what about all those people that don’t know about your brand and haven’t even been to your site?

Social media is a great soapbox for communicating with unknown leads, raising awareness with masses of people all at once. And in most cases, the people you reach have opted-in to listening to you by “following” you on Twitter and other social channels. But of course, not every follower is a qualified prospect. With targeted display, you have the added benefit of using business demographics to narrow down these masses to only the people you care about as prospects. Moreover, you can still reach and impact individuals who are not yet even aware of your social media efforts yet.

Closing Thoughts

If social media is part of your marketing plan, you’re already aware of the benefits of education, awareness, and brand building. These strategies are also at the core of display advertising, which offers the added benefit of reaching only your qualified prospects – wherever they travel online. If you’re not already doing display, don’t miss out on this opportunity to try out one of the greatest, untapped marketing channels you have available.

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