Corporate Eye

The Advertising vs. Social Media Debate

nike appIn a recent speech, Nike vice president of digital sport, Stefan Olander, urged brands to stop focusing on “old metrics” like clicks and likes. As Nicola Clark of Brand Republic reports, Olander stated, “A whole industry is stuck on trying to force old metrics on to new channels. Advertising is a new model that is being squeezed into the new framework of social media, when the fact is that people don’t want to be interrupted.”

There is definitely truth to what Olander says. The power of social media marketing for brands comes from leaving the old-school interruption marketing tactics behind and leveraging opportunities to enhance the online experience instead. However, that doesn’t mean there is no place for advertising within social media.

Olander says, “Nike has moved away from investing in advertising to the creation of digital services such as Nike+. Once you have established a direct relationship with a consumer, you don’t need to advertise to them.” However, that only tells part of the story to brand managers.

The key term in his statement is “once you have established a direct relationship with a consumer.” If you don’t have a relationship with a consumer, advertising plays an important role as part of an integrated marketing plan to increase awareness, recall, trial, and ultimately loyalty. Social media helps to increase the value and depth of those relationships. Furthermore, advertising plays an important role in reaching beyond an existing customer audience.

With that said, social media is a space where brands can deliver meaningful content, conversations, and experiences that enhance people’s online activities, and it’s incredibly effective for pull marketing. Advertising is an example of push marketing. There is still room for both in a marketing plan.

The next step is to create social media experiences that not only add value to consumers’ lives but also add value to the brand’s bottom-line. That’s the piece of the puzzle that most brands haven’t found yet. However, brands like Nike that have had great success with digital services like Nike+ are perfect for benchmarking and learning how to deliver consumer value and revenue value.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Evan Wander

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.