Marketers more aware of social media?


My career background means I have one foot in the marketing profession and one foot in the public relations profession, with a good understanding of the digital medium as well.

So it’s been interesting to watch how each professional group has adopted social media as a tool for communicating. From my point of view PR professionals have adopted social media much quicker than their marketing counterparts.

While there’s always much crossover between marketing and PR as they’re such close disciplines, there seem to be more PR professionals blogging, podcasting and generally adopting social media.

Certainly it seems to be PR agencies who are promoting the medium to their clients most. There are certainly less mainstream marketing and advertising agencies using social media as a marketing tool – and when they are it’s often as a small pilot as an add-on to a large mainstream campaign.

However I get the sense things are changing. Last week Marketing magazine in the UK carried a front page lead about how Coca-Cola will develop a social networking community around its new deal with Apple. The original Marketing story is here (and here, here and here).

This week’s front page lead in Marketing magazine is again about social media. This time it concerns how the Conservative Party (UK’s main political opposition) is launching a website to encourage social networking as a discussion around key social and political issues. The site will launch later in 2006 and will be developed by Rubber Republic.

And then reading on inside, Marketing magazine is launching a dedicated digital section for the first time. Good stuff! And then on page 13 Andrew Walmsley from i-level has his first regular digital column and it covers virtual worlds like Second Life, Whyville, Toontown and There. While I don’t agree with all the points Andrew makes in his column, it’s great to see the profile of social media rising among marketers.

It’ll be interesting to see if the increased coverage of social media in the marketing press marks the start of the adoption of social media by mainstream marketers. They have some ground to make up on their public relations colleagues, but the opportunities to leverage social media in marketing are huge so there could be some interesting projects ahead.