It’s time to move beyond social media. It’s a channel of marketing similar to direct mail, television, radio, and print. Yes it’s a new form of advertising and yes it has new rules but so did television when it surpassed radio. More recent when the internet hit its stride and has increasingly put a dent in print ad spend.

If you’re short on time here is all you have to read… Think integration and focus on the highest valued permission marketing channel. With a hierarchy in the following order: mobile, email, social, direct mail, and a focused web strategy.

While I believe we have to move past talking about social media as this new shiny thing or this ground breaking way to reach a market–I’m confused by some things I see.

It All Started With Football and Commercials

First, I watched the game between the Saints and the Vikings last night. This is one of the rare times I actually watch commercials and a few things struck me. I didn’t realize how over the top companies are going to show how greeen they are… is there data out there that shows that this is a core concern of the audience of football? That’s not my main point I just wonder and ask…

Next I’ve observed lately more companies and brands opting to direct people just to Facebook. A series of Toyota commercials reminded me of this. These commercials told a story of a Toyota owner and directed you to their facebook page where they ask you to visit with the tag line “every Toyota has a story”.

Let me include one (of a few) stories that someone wanted to share…

Toyota conversation (story)

To be fair the majority of the stories are positive for Toyota. Also these are interactions that companies have had to deal with in the web2.0 world for a while now, so my point isn’t ground breaking. What still surprises me is that a company continues to spend money with a call to action to a channel they do not control. Well not control–let’s say own.

Yes I know all the new media arguments, you don’t control the message, these conversations are happening anyway, etc… but would the above conversation happen if Toyota hadn’t asked for it?

Is This Something You Should Do?

I don’t think so. The only way I could make an argument that you spend ad dollars just to get someone to your Facebook presence would be if all your other online marketing has a solid foundation. You’ve dialed in your hub website, email marketing, micro-sites, network spends, PPC, social marketing and other supporting marketing.  Which I guess I just blew my argument there because Toyota probably has that dialed in. But do you?

Isn’t the goal here to get someone to some form of a permission marketing channel. Isn’t that what a Facebook page really is?

Often times when I’m meeting with someone they ask me what is the best form of permission marketing? That’s when I share what I see as the hierarchy of permission marketing.

Hierarchy of Permission Marketing
Hierarchy of Permission Marketing

A key caveat to this hierarchy. It assumes you understand your target market, your segmenting and you understand how each channel plays a role in driving your sales and marketing.

This reasoning being this hierarchy is simple. First mobile–the percentage of people that receive and view your message is statistically high. Email is the next form that gives you that same share of time. Social in my mind has surpassed the website because the time people spend in this channel.  Also direct mail integrated adds a whole new dimension to permission marketing.

Now here a website is last but remember this graph shows the hierarchy of permission. Technically you aren’t giving permission for someone to browse your website but they are in a way giving you their time. An even more important reason why you still need a website is because a website beats all of the other forms on intent.

When someone has the intent to purchase your product or your category of product you want to be able to capture them in this discovery phase. No other channel of marketing allows this like having a focused website, with supporting online marketing (SEO, PPC, PPV, Social, and Ad networks).

Why is All This Relevant?

I believe no matter what level of company (solo, small business, large) you can implement every level of the above permission hierarchy.  Some like mobile might not be huge drivers but they can play a role. Sure direct mail might be passé but targeted it still get’s results.

I recently signed up for one of those special offer cards that restaurants give out. For this I got a plastic card with $10 in savings pre-loaded. Since then I’ve received a couple very targeted direct mail pieces, a couple of emails, and they’ve integrated social in the establishment itself. Out of all of these what is the one thing that has gotten me to act? The direct mail pieces. Did the others play a role… well I’ll say they don’t but I bet on some deep subconscious level maybe they do.

The key of all this is integration. Think integration of your channels and social media cannot be this thing out there by its own. I should be clear as well that integration is tough but it is also something that you have to do in pieces. Think strategy and tactics. Master one at a time as a tactic with an overall strategy of integration.

I’m interested to hear from you… can any organization implement all these levels? Is integration the key to getting beyond this social media hype?