You Ask, I Answer: Is Organic Social Media a Marketing Channel?

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

You Ask, I Answer: Is Organic Social Media a Marketing Channel?

Theresa asks, “What’s your actual position on whether or not social media is a marketing channel?”

In this video, I answer a question from the Agorapulse Great Debate: is organic social media a marketing channel? Note that this is not a question about whether organic social media works or not – that’s not debated. It’s whether it falls into the marketing channel category or not. Watch the video to find out more.

You Ask, I Answer: Is Organic Social Media a Marketing Channel?

Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.

Listen to the audio here:

Download the MP3 audio here.

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

Christopher Penn 0:00

In today’s episode, Theresa asks, What is your actual stance on whether or not social media organic social media is a marketing channel or not? This is a follow on to the Agorapulse great debate about organic social media and whether it is a marketing channel or not in that debate, I was assigned the position of against that organic social media is not a marketing channel.

This happens to coincide with what I actually believe that it’s not a marketing channel.

And here’s why.

Organic social media is an umbrella term for a bunch of very, very disparate products and services, right? You of course, have the obvious things like Facebook, for example, or Instagram, but you also have stuff like Slack or Discord, or Tiktok, or YouTube, take your pick of the gazillion and a half different apps that all fall under the social media umbrella, here’s an easy way to to look at the products that go into a product like Agorapulse.

And you’ll see in there all the different social networks that connects to so why can’t we call this a marketing channel? Because there’s no way do apples to apples on anything in there, right? If you go in and you look right, Slack Discord like yeah, these are powerful tools for social media communities or managing social media communities, and they work great Facebook groups, similar LinkedIn groups, etc.

How do you do an apples to apples comparison with that and say, Tiktok? Right? How do you even do an apples to apples comparison with say Facebook and YouTube? Right? Facebook says a video of viewers three seconds, YouTube says a video viewers 30 seconds.

So you can’t even compare apples to apples in the same kind of format.

When you look at a marketing channel, the purpose of a marketing channel is to deliver information and possibly enable the sale of goods to consumers within that channel, right? How do you how you deliver products and services and goods to someone in a Discord server versus on your Tiktok profile, totally different, totally different can even use even the same copy, you have to transform into different media formats.

compound that with the fact that organic social media really is kind of a horizontal, right? If you’re good at it, you can use it at every stage of the customer journey.

You can use it for awareness, you can use it for consideration.

You can use it for purchase enablement, right.

You can buy stuff right off of Instagram, you can use it for customer service and reputation management, evangelism, things like that there have been any number of companies that have bought software that does employee advocacy on social media programs, a marketing channels purpose.

And design intent is for marketing, right? It’s not for sales, right? You can’t use display ads for customer service, just just not a thing.

And yet, when we talk about whether or not social media is a marketing channel on when we treat it, like an aggregated marketing channel, we’re kind of lumping all that stuff in together.

And that’s not what a marketing channel is.

It’s important to distinguish that we’re saying I’m saying that organic social media is not a marketing channel, that is not the same as saying it’s ineffective, right.

I think during the debate, people got kind of confused.

That saying was bad or that was ineffective.

And yeah, if you’re bad at it, it’s ineffective.

But if you’re bad at anything, it’s ineffective.

But the question was, the debate was is a marketing channel? Not whether it’s good or not, not whether it’s effective or not, it is effective in the right hands.

So social media is very effective.

It’s just not a marketing channel.

And again, it for me it comes down to, can you do apples to apples comparisons of the strategies, tactics, execution and measurement of disparate social channels? The answer is no, you can’t.

You can do subsets right.

Realistically, every individual service in social media is a marketing channel, right? Instagram is a marketing challenge.

You can do an apples to apples comparison of an influencer program on Instagram with your your company’s Instagram brand profile, that is a sensible way to do apples to apples, which is getting better engagement, it’s the same kind of engagement, same definitions for what constitutes a view, etc.

But when you’re trying to do cross channel measurement in social media, it’s really difficult.

How do you measure the impact of Instagram? And how is it different from how you measure the impact of slack or Telegram, right, or Wechat or WhatsApp? They’re all social media.

But they’re not all the same.

And the measurement among them is not apples to apples.

So from that debate, no organic social media is not a channel and critically, if you are treating it as a channel and lumping all the data together and measuring to get together, you are probably unfairly boosting underperforming channels and unfairly penalizing your over performing channels within on social media, so Don’t lump it all together, be very granular with it and you’ll, you’ll get more success out of your social media efforts because you’ll focus on what’s working for you within the umbrella term of social media.

Good question.

As you heard, we had quite a debate about it, and I hope that you give it some thought and how you measure it and manage your social media.

Thanks for watching.

If you’d like this video, go ahead and hit that subscribe button.

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Take my Generative AI for Marketers course!

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This