I’m really looking forward to the day when social media matures as an advertising medium. I feel as though social media advertising is currently pigeonholed into the same boat as mobile (which has been in the same boat for the last four years): it’s about one to two years away from maturing as a medium for advertising. That doesn’t mean that social media (or mobile, for that matter) is not a strong marketing medium. It just means we have to be honest about what needs to be fixed — or else bad ads will continue to happen to good people.
We also have to be clear on the differences between advertising and marketing. Advertising is defined as a form of communication used to influence individuals to purchase products or services. Marketing is defined as an integrated communications process through which individuals and communities are informed and persuaded that their needs can be met by products or services.
The primary difference, when you break them down, is where your money goes! Advertising really means paying to broadcast or display a message, whereas marketing refers to all the differentiated components that allow a brand to convey a message to a consumer, of which advertising is just one tactic. Marketing is the umbrella term.
Currently, social media ads are inexpensive, untargeted and not as effective as they could be. Social media is great at marketing (when used properly), but it currently falls down when it comes to paid advertising. From a marketing perspective, it is a great way of engaging/interacting with a consumer through presence and seeding: creating a presence for the consumer to interact with and inserting (seeding) into existing conversations that may be of relevance to the brand.