Compare and Contrast Communication of Classic Marketing v. Social Media Marketing

Classic marketing is limited by the one-way, closed direction of communication with its customers. Classic marketing provides a message solely from the top (the company) down to the consumer, and disseminates this message to the masses. Classic marketing is often planned in advance and costly. Although the direction of classic marketing is initiated by the company, and may be considered active initially, the communication becomes passive once the message has been consumed and those being marketed to have no way to respond and continue the conversation.

Social media marketing can also begin from with the company, giving it a top down quality at times. Social media marketing can also be planned in advance, whether through scheduled posts or social media campaigns. Additionally, social media campaigns can also have a cost involved and may be disseminated to the masses, if a company chooses to place little to no limitations on the demographics of the individuals targeted by the campaign.

Social media marketing differs from classic marketing in more ways than it is alike. Social media marketing provides companies with the ability to communicate with potential customers, rather than to the masses. A two-way, open system of communication can be established between the company and the individual, allowing for a more personalized 1-on-1 approach. Although communication can be initiated from the top-down in social media marketing, it can also be initiated by the consumer giving it a bottom-up characteristic as well. While social media campaigns can be planned and paid for, social media marketing can also cost little to nothing and, more often than not, occur in real time creating active engagement between the company and the consumer.


The diagram above compares and contrasts classic marketing communication and social media marketing communication, and includes characteristics of both the direction of communication and communication with customers.


While social media is not necessarily “better,” it does provide greater benefits in regards to consumer feedback. Not only does social media allow the consumer to have a voice and be heard, it also provides the marketer with useful information and insights to strategically alter future marketing campaigns (both social and classic). While classic marketing is unable to provide these same benefits, it can and often should be (budget permitting), utilized in conjunction with social media to create the most effective marketing campaign. Classic marketing remains powerful in marketing to masses and creating initial awareness through various channels such as television, radio, print, billboards, etc. While classic marketing can still be utilized effectively, it can often be improved upon by listening to the consumer through interactions that take place on social media.

In a May 2014 article about Twitter and television, Bennett discusses the powerful relationship of a traditional media outlet and modern day social media (  While classic marketing may provide mass awareness, social media enhances this traditional marketing medium by creating conversation among viewers. The Super Bowl is a great example of how advertisers are leveraging television commercials by including social media. In fact, “Hashtags were used in 57% of nationally-run Super Bowl ads” (Sullivan, February 2, 2014).


Sullivan, D. (February 2, 2014). “New Record for 2014: Hashtags Mentioned in 57% of Super Bowl Ads. Retrieved from