Stop confusing social media marketing with advertising on social sites

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

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I'm amazed that so many seemingly smart people are *still* using the words "marketing" and "advertising" interchangeably.

While I see the silliness everywhere, a good example is all the hoopla around General Motors' decision to stop advertising on Facebook.

The GM news broke during the same week as the Facebook IPO a few weeks ago.

Mainstream media reporters and citizen journalists jumped on the story. Except for the awesome newsjacking of the Facebook IPO by GM I didn't think it was a big deal so I chose not to write about it.

The resulting headlines such as The Real Reason GM Left Facebook and General Motors unfriends Facebook imply that GM was no longer communicating to fans on Facebook.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Some people like Mitch Joel and Yaseen Dadabhay got the story right. But most did not.

Marketing is not just advertising

ChevyWhile GM did pull $10 million in ads from Facebook, they continue to use the Facebook channel.

A very quick search shows GM has hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Facebook pages including brand pages like Chevrolet, model pages like Camaro (2.8 million likes and tons of fan engagement), location pages like Chevrolet India, and even specialty pages like Team Chevy auto racing.

So GM has certainly not left Facebook.

Heck, imagine if they used that ten million dollars to hire a huge team of brand journalists to engage people on social networks! (That’s what I would do).

GM is certainly engaged on Facebook. They just stopped spending money on Facebook ads.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR

As regular readers of this blog and The New Rules of Marketing & PR will recall:

OLD RULES -- buy your way in with advertising and beg your way in with the media
NEW RULES -- publish your way in on the Web for free

As many successful marketers know, on the Web, marketing is not the same as advertising. Winning is all about creating great content. For free. To be successful, you must unlearn what you have learned.

It's not about advertising on YouTube, it is about making a YouTube video. It's not about advertising on social media sites like Facebook, it is about participating by creating pages, personal profiles, and events on Facebook like GM does.

Attention journalists: Stop intermixing the terms "advertising" and "marketing."

It's difficult for CMOs to make the transition to a world where there are alternative ways to reach an audience other than spending buckets of money on expensive advertising campaigns. Many reporters aren't helping.