Is the future of marketing social? Few today would argue that social
media marketing is going away any time soon, and the most bullish
suggest that social is going to increasingly displace traditional
marketing spend.

But are the bulls right? If a new study is any indication, not exactly.

According to market research firm Kline, adoption of social media marketing by beauty companies is growing, and makers of cosmetics and toiletries grew their viral campaign efforts this past holiday season. Driving the growth in their use of social media is the realization that consumers aren’t always reachable via traditional (and more expensive) channels, like television.

But that doesn’t mean that beauty marketers are moving away from traditional channels. Couponing promotions, for instance, have been popular of late due to a competitive pricing environment. Beyond that, Kline Senior Associate notes, “there is no cookie-cutter approach…and brands are experimenting with what approaches work best with their business model, their consumer base, and the image they want to project.”

That’s an important point. Social media offers marketers a lot. Social networks like Facebook have huge audiences, social marketing campaigns can be launched relatively quickly and inexpensively, targeting options are plentiful. But none of this means that social is best when social is in a silo. Just as savvy search and display marketers know that you can’t just look at the last click, savvy social marketers won’t underestimate the ability of social and traditional channels to work together.

In industries with strong brands, like cosmetics, marketers will increasingly find that the most challenging question is not “How do we allocate spend across channels?” but rather “How do we most effectively integrate channels?” From this perspective, the wisest media sellers will realize that the overall spending pie is only going to expand, and focus more on giving marketers reason to grow their spend rather than trying to maximize the percentage of the pie they get.