Is New School Marketing Really That Different From Old School?

oldschoolhouseMy online friend John Cavanaugh’s recent post got me thinking about the hot rivalry between new school vs. old school marketing. We all know those feel good buzz words like transparency, conversation and engagement, but I question their truth in meaning in the online world. I am realizing that the new way of marketing is not as different from the old way as we are often led to believe. It all depends on your perspective and your approach.

Putting a business out there with a blog and on Facebook and Twitter is a good thing. It allows consumers to at least feel like the company is accessible, but does it really offer that transparency that everyone says is so essential? I think it’s more like translucence. No company is going to be completely transparent. Most companies and organizations highly monitor their Facebook posts, blog posts and Twitter feeds. They are most often manned by PR, marketing, communications or customer service people within the organization. In other words, trained professionals well-versed in the company’s mission, style, philosophy and message. These people are in fact crafting their posts to serve the best interest of the company. You know, just like advertising, only folksier.

I submit that social media usage by business is simply a newer form of advertising. Let’s face it, a Facebook page is designed to generate interest in and attention to a brand (just like advertising), with the added bonus of actually hearing and seeing what people are saying about you (just like focus groups). The point of a business gaining fans, followers and subscribers may seem like it’s about building a “community,” but when it gets right down to the core, it’s about getting a following of existing or potential customers to like your brand, with the end goal of selling whatever it is that you are selling to them (just like advertising). It’s a powerful way to get consumers to try your Kool-aid, like it, then buy it (just like handing out free samples in the grocery store). The more fans, followers and subscribers you get, the more people start talking about your brand or business around the web, which in turn builds brand awareness (just like advertising).

So I propose that we stop the bickering between the new school and the old school and realize that we’re not as different as we may think. I suggest we stop using the word “transparent,” adopt the more accurate word “translucent” instead, and just feel hopeful that businesses can no longer get away with being opaque.

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5 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. Pamela Atherton

    wrote on May 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Hurrah!! I think you have totally nailed it! When I was reading Brian Solis’ new book, Engage, it occurred to me that “Social Media” is just good business practices on a different platform. Do you say hello to your customers? Do you tell them what’s good on the menu? Do you have pictures of the employees hanging on the walls? Do you send them a newsletter with the latest uses of your product, or success stories.

    It’s just that now you do that in “new media,” as you have pointed out. Same stuff, different name.

    Glad I found your blog.

  2. Cheryl Andonian aka Momblebee

    wrote on May 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I think you are absolutely right. Same stuff, different tools (although the old tools still have value too). Even though carpenter may own a nail gun, they still have use for a hammer. It gets tiring hearing both sides, old and new, accusing each other of “not getting it.” We all need to open our minds to all of the tools available to us, old and new.
    Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

  3. Meet The New Boss. Same As The Old Boss. « The Tap, Tap, Tap

    wrote on May 10, 2010 at 6:14 am

    [...] social media is two-way, transparent. But in the middle of my case building, Cheryl Andonian wrote a wonderfully insightful blog post that cauterized my thinking and gave it a name and a new focus: [...]

  4. Andrea Ong Pietkiewicz

    wrote on May 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Thank you for this post.

    It all comes down to perspective, doesn’t it? To borrow an idea from an old saw: just as those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, so they think something’s new when it’s really a contemporary instantiation of the tried-and-true.

  5. Cheryl Andonian aka Momblebee

    wrote on May 11, 2010 at 11:27 am


    Exactly… All means to the same end. Thanks for your input.


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