Social Media Most Effective When Combined With Ads: Study

Eden Ames
AMA Scholarly Insights
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Key Takeaways

What? New research from the Journal of Marketing indicates that firm-generated content on social media has a positive impact on consumer buying habits.

So what? Marketers should venture confidently into the world of social media marketing, keeping in mind that digital marketing has a synergistic relationship with other marketing mediums.

Now what? For marketers, the foundational question is: Who is your customer? Define your target audience so you can then maximize social media marketing results by creating content that works together with other ad formats. Doing so will allow you to engage your customers according to their preferences.

Scholarly Insights: AMA's digest of the latest findings from marketing's top researchers 

Every year, managers must decide how to spend their marketing dollars—a matter that requires informed research, a meticulous plan and a certain level of confidence. As we move toward an increasingly digital future, marketers are reconsidering ad spend in traditional formats and funneling that money toward digital efforts instead.

By 2018, we can expect digital channels to outpace TV, the current dominant medium, according to a Magna Global forecast. This shift has long been recognized as inevitable, especially with research showing that digital advertising strategies, like content marketing, do in fact make a difference in customer purchase behaviors.

According to a new study from the Journal of Marketing, company-generated content in social media indeed increases sales and customer profitability. 

However, that same study also finds that digital efforts works synergistically with other marketing capabilities—particularly in terms of e-mail marketing. As a result, marketers who are prone to focus on one advertising medium at a time should restructure their strategy for a more holistic marketing approach.

Still, marketers must also be mindful that there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for marketing. While social media has proven to be an effective route to building and maintaining brand connections, marketers must remember that activity on social media alone is not enough to create a successful campaign. Instead, firm-generated content on social media must be thoughtfully crafted so that it caters specifically to the disposition of the customer. Further, it is important to assess which mediums are most preferred by target audiences. Just because 90% of customer responses come from digital ads does not mean that other ad formats are negligible. Instead, this latest research suggests that marketers should strive to achieve a synergistic approach so that ads in all platforms work together to reach audiences in cadence to an established tone and message. 

“In this online social media environment, the role of traditional and other digital media cannot be undermined, as they have synergistic effects with [firm-generated content].”

-Authors Ashish Kumar, Ram Bezawada, Rishika Rishika, Ramkumar Janakiraman and P.K. Kannan

Article Citation:

Ashish Kumar, Ram Bezawada, Rishika Rishika, Ramkumar Janakiraman, and P.K. Kannan (2016) "From Social to Sale: The Effects of Firm-Generated Content in Social Media on Customer Behavior." Journal of Marketing: January 2016, Vol. 80, No. 1, pp. 7-25.

Author Bio:

Eden Ames
Eden Ames is a digital content producer for the American Marketing Association. She may be reached at
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