Social Media Replacing Traditional Advertising

By Sarah Baker

The model for advertising once was for businesses to purchase advertising space in a traditional newspaper or magazine and tout product offerings to its audience.

Nowadays, anybody can be an ambassador on the Web.

That’s the message local professionals received at The Daily News’ Social Media seminar Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium, 1934 Poplar Ave.

The seminar – sponsored by Howell Marketing Strategies LLC and Jackson Lewis LLP – was led by globally recognized blogger, educator, business consultant and author Mark W. Schaefer, who focused on corporate blogging and how companies effectively use blogs.

“Content is the new black for marketing and PR,” Schaefer said. “There are serious business implications for content blogging on the social Web. My rule isn’t never sell. My rule is give, give, give, give, give, and then ask.”

Companies have to sell someplace, and that’s where the website comes in. But for many businesses, viewership of traditional sites has been rapidly declining over the last 18 months, and in some industries is down as much as 25 percent, Schaefer said.

“If you’ve been in a cave for the last few years, you might think, ‘Oh, my goodness, people are spending less time on the Internet,’” Schafer said. “And, of course, that’s not true. They’re spending more time on the Internet, they’re just spending it on places other than websites. They’re spending it on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and these other social media platforms.”

Schaefer stressed to figure out what makes a company special. One of the questions he always asks his clients is to finish the phrase, “Only we.”

“Can you create emotional attraction to coffee, scissors, a tractor?” Schaefer said, citing corporate blogs such as Starbucks, Oracle and Caterpillar. “Social Web is not business-to-business, it’s not business-to-consumer, it’s people-to-people.”

Following Schaefer’s keynote, a panel of industry experts discussed practices and policies governing the use of social media. Those panelists were Jim Mulroy, managing partner of Jackson Lewis; Eric Epperson, vice president of corporate culture and communications at Pinnacle Airlines Corp.; and Ken Rohman, senior vice president and director of digital services at archer>malmo.

“Social media needs to be a part of who we are and how we communicate,” Epperson said. “It’s not some alien galaxy like a lot of corporate America thinks it is. It’s just the way the world works right now.”

Every company has its own social IQ, Epperson said, and must have its own integrated strategy.

Adding to that, Rohman said that while the strategy must start at the top, the CEO is not usually the typical suspect for keeping a blog fresh. But if a business hires a third party, make sure to mention who is doing the writing, he said.

“People like the genuine,” Rohman said. “People will see through the B.S. in a heartbeat.”

And just as social media use varies from company to company, so do policies, Lewis said. It needs to be detailed-oriented, yet not hindering employee expression.

“As long as you have your policy that it’s written specifically enough that you’re not telling employees that they can’t talk about terms, conditions and employment, but at the same time, they can’t release proprietary information,” Lewis said.

The social media seminar is the latest in a series of informational seminars hosted by The Daily News and The Memphis News in hopes of providing local industry specialists insight into the latest trends.

Other slated topics of discussion and dates are green business (Oct. 6), and business of health care (Nov. 10), economic development (Feb. 9) and healthcare reform (April 5).

To register, visit Inquiries can be directed to The Daily News’ marketing manager Donna Waggener, at 528-8122 or