Many experts believe that the effectiveness of advertising campaigns on social networks necessarily depends on investing (advertising) in this strategy. Others argue that a monetary investment in social network advertising is not a necessary prerequisite. The latter position argues that investing money in social networks does not guarantee a strategy’s success and that similar goals may be achieved with no-cost social marketing communication strategies. What do Portada readers think? Should Social Networking in the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American realm be promoted through advertising paid or is a non-paid presence enough?
Microsoft Advertising– the sponsor of Portada’s Latin American Advertising and Media Publicity Awards–, conducted an online survey with questions on social networks and advertising among the 237 people who voted in the Latin American Advertising and Media Summit 2012 Awards.
Of the 237 people polled, 180 considered themselves influential in the decision-making of their clients or brands regarding communication strategies and marketing on social networks.
To pay or not to pay: The debate over the effectiveness of advertising on social networks
Out of 237 respondents, 181 (76%) believe that success and achievement of communication goals for their clients or brands involves both a social network presence (without payment for services) and social network advertising (fee-based services). Only 16 respondents regarded interactive promotion as more important than paying for social networking services to meet their client or brand goals, and 40 of those polled thought it was more important to have a social network presence (without paying for these services).
Clearly, our community feels that in order to fulfill its social network communication goals, it is necessary to have a non-paying presence on social networks (such as Twitter accounts and Facebook pages), but also to invest in advertising and advertising services offered by social networks today. The key is a combination of presence plus advertising.
When we translate this opinion to what our readers are actually doing and planning with their customers and brands, the numbers are very similar. A total of 170 respondents, or slightly more than 71%, reported using both types of social network interaction (presence and advertising); 15.6% said that they or their customers has a presence on social networks without buying advertising; and 12.6% said they only arrange for advertising services on social media and do not have an actual social network presence.
Social advertising is part of our everyday scene and is expected to demand more and more resources and a place in media planning budgets in Latin America. The region’s investment in digital and social network advertising is growing, but has not yet reached the levels for digital media in the U.S. and Europe, so there is great potential and expectation surrounding advertising on new technologies.
The emergence of many Latin American companies specializing in marketing and digital products or services is a fact. Investment by private equity groups in these Latino start-ups, which we might call "Latino Silicon Valley," is also a fact. The expansion of multinationals in the region is also not surprising, considering the European crisis and high levels of growth being registered in Latin America. Why not bet then on the growth of social advertising in Latin America? The conditions and the mentality are there.
So then…what is social marketing?
The concept of "social advertising" has not been completely defined and set in the advertising and marketing industry. There are several debates surrounding this topic – which represents a departure from what we understand to be traditional advertising – in which media platforms are included under the concept of "social advertising". To this end, respondents were asked what platforms they consider to be part of social advertising today and what they understand this concept to be. Survey options did not imply the exclusion of the other answers.
Of those polled, 58.2% included advertising messages via SMS as a form of social advertising. Meanwhile, 57.8% felt that e-mails with advertising are also social advertising. Another 57.8% also said that ads on social networks fall under this concept. Coming in third, 53.5% of respondents said that an announcement on Twitter or Facebook also constitutes social advertising.
On a second scale, with responses hovering at 35%, respondents felt that social advertising also consists of ads that used quotes made "by real flesh-and-blood people" and of any activity on social networks that makes it possible to reach a specific audience (whether paying for it or not).