Traditional vs. Social Media Marketing: Pros & Cons

There will always be a battle of choice between social media marketing and traditional marketing. The truth is that you can enjoy the benefits of both for your business. To do this, you need to know how to harness the strengths of each marketing method.

In this post, we will be comparing both types of marketing by looking at their pros and cons. Wondering who will come out tops? Read to the end to find out.

Traditional Marketing

It is quite easy to define traditional marketing. Many businesses have engaged in this type of marketing for lots of years. This form of marketing makes use of regular marketing methods such as print media, TV commercials, and radio. Other channels used in traditional marketing include billboards, banners, hoardings, postal letters, and brochures.

Many people consider traditional marketing to be obsolete because of the influence of technology. That notion is wrong as this form of marketing still plays a major role in creating engagements and producing conversions. We will see the pros and cons of this method later on in this post.

Social Media Marketing

It is no secret that many people mistake social media marketing with digital marketing. Before we go ahead, this is a good place to state that the former is a subset of the latter. Gradually, social media is becoming an indispensable aspect of human life. This is why marketing through social media is becoming more important by the day.

So what does this form of marketing entail? It simply means carrying out marketing activities using social media channels. Examples of such channels include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google+. It also involves sponsored ads, YouTube videos and even B2C email marketing.

Differentiating Between Social Media Marketing and Traditional Marketing

Social media marketing brings a whole new dimension to the idea of marketing. It presents businesses with a single model that can be altered in numerous ways. Traditional marketing, on the other hand, depends on creating a message then transmitting this message via several media channels. Like we mentioned earlier, some of these channels include TV, radio, and print media.

Nonetheless, traditional marketing is clearly limited, unlike marketing via social media. How so? One of the advantages that social media brings to the table is analytics. It is easy to check the number of engagements on a particular post. More so, you can even tell the gender that engages more, their location, and what time they engage the most.

It is almost impossible to measure these parameters using traditional marketing methods. As such, tracking the success of campaigns is only limited to the number of items sold or clients that patronize.  With analytics, social media marketing enables businesses to adjust their strategies to suit their target audience. 

Another challenge with traditional marketing is that it is majorly a one-way street. You put out ads via different channels but you cannot get feedback from your audience easily. Social media eliminates this issue since it allows businesses to engage with their audiences one-on-one. Customers can ask questions or provide feedback about products or services and get quick responses online.

Word-of-mouth may just be the biggest advantage of marketing via social media over traditional marketing. Social media platforms connect individuals from different parts of the globe. These individuals can be the key to unlocking different markets. This is because existing clients can provide referrals about your products or services online. Studies show that people are more likely to make purchases when they see referrals.

Traditional marketing, as we stated above, is quite limited. Clients can hardly share their experiences with other individuals outside their circle. As such, you will find it difficult to penetrate new markets where you don’t already have customers.

Despite being so different, social media marketing and traditional marketing both have their pros and cons. We will discuss these in the next few sections.

Pros of Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is almost as old as man. Many methods have been employed over time. Even though some businesses think it is outdated, it still has its advantages. Here are a few:

Real-world communication

Traditional marketing allows for physical communication among individuals. Truth be told, some customers are still old-fashioned and will always prefer physical meetings to anything else. This form of marketing makes such contact communication a possibility. Let’s not forget product launches and parties that will never happen outside traditional marketing.

Physical sales

This is another very important benefit of traditional marketing. It allows the salesman to speak one-on-one with prospects and existing customers. This is a huge advantage for very good salesmen as they can sell with more ease this way.

Cons of Traditional Marketing

It is not all praise for traditional marketing. There are a few flaws which we have enumerated below:

Forced sales

With traditional marketing, it is almost like the viewers have no choice but to view the ads. For example, when watching your favourite TV show, an ad comes up. You probably have no interest in that product or service yet you have to sit through it while it plays. This mostly results in wasted effort on the part of the company as people just ignore such ads in the end.

Void of communities

This is probably one of the biggest flaws of this form of marketing. Since there are no communities, clients hardly share their experiences. It is also impossible for them to follow up on a brand’s activities regarding products that they like. 

Pros of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing helps to fix most of the flaws of traditional marketing. This is why this form of marketing is growing at an exponential rate, faster than any other form of marketing. Here are a few pros of marketing via social media:

Higher conversion rates

Like we mentioned earlier, it is easy to track engagements on social media using analytics tools. This means that businesses can tell what is working and what isn’t. With little strategy tweaks, they can grow their conversion rates to improve sales. In the end, it gives a higher return on investment than all of the traditional marketing methods combined.

Builds communities

With social media, you can build very large communities for your brand. Many top businesses thrive in these communities because they result in repeat patronage. This is because people can share their experiences and others can benefit from such experiences. The result of building communities is more return patronage and an increase in new clients.

Cons of Social Media Marketing

Marketing via social media isn’t all perfect. There are a few flaws but we can pinpoint one in this post. 

Customers not being conversant with social media

Let’s face it, not all customers are good with social media. Some of them wouldn’t come online frequently. Even if they do, they may not be conversant with communicating properly via different platforms.

Traditional vs. Social Media Marketing: Wrap up

Even though social media marketing is great, you can’t stay with this method alone. It is imperative that you create a balance between both marketing methods to enjoy their benefits. The best way is to combine both in an 80/20 ratio. This means that you should work with 80 for social media and 20 for traditional marketing.


Maria is a content writer for the unlimited graphic design service Delesign with a keen interest in eCommerce and internet marketing. She is a communications graduate and understands what it takes to write persuasive copy and blog posts. Outside of work, you can find her mini-blogging about her life on social media.

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