- Posted by Tabitha David
- On July 6, 2016
- 1 Comments
- Blogging, Linkedin, Twitter
Those who have completed a degree in Communication Studies are all too familiar with the phrase, “the medium is the message”, by the famous Marshall McLuhan. Although McLuhan did not propose his theory in our era of the internet and social media, we can still draw important conclusions when applying his theory to our current communication practices.
McLuhan believed that it was not what we said, but the way we said it that mattered most. In essence, the words we use are not as important as the way we choose to say them. McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message theory still holds value to the way we structure our B2B marketing efforts today. This theory helps to explain why we communicate through more than one medium. Marketers know that their audience will respond to the same message in different ways depending on the medium. With the increase of social media platforms, mobile users, and general interactions on the web, and the unique properties each medium possesses, it can be challenging to determine which medium will be most effective for your message.
Here is how the 4 biggest social media platforms and your website still employ McLuhan’s theory:
The logistics of twitter are unique. Users have a limit of 140 characters and the medium requires captivating messages in order to draw attention to readers. As a medium of communication, Twitter’s intent is to captivate and tap into our short-term attention spans. Messages target individuals who are too busy to read a full article, blog or the newspaper. Readers generally get small bits of information with the option to click on a link to read further. Many of us are constantly on the move and need our information quick and simple. The medium is the message of efficiency and urgency.
Marketing to your audience through LinkedIn connotes professionalism. LinkedIn as a medium is used for primarily business related purposes. For example, promoting a cocktail party would certainly not be marketed using LinkedIn as a medium to reach your audience. Alternatively, using LinkedIn to post more professional messages can be more effective than posting the same message on a more casual platform. The medium is the message of professionalism.
As a contrast to LinkedIn is Facebook which is intended to foster a more casual social media experience. We don’t necessarily log into Facebook to find business information, however, it’s a great platform to employ the word of mouth theory on the web. Facebook gives you the opportunity to share and link a business on an online platform; much like interactions between a group of friends offline. Not to mention, Facebook is the most active social media platform in the world, with 1.19 billion monthly active users. The medium is the message of connections.
We recently launched our Instagram account after much debate. We asked questions like what is our goal in running and Instagram account and what can we expect from the process? Although we are still in the works of tweaking our strategy on how Instagram can be worked into our B2B marketing strategy, one thing is for sure, Instagram is great to create more visual content, build awareness, and foster engagement. The medium is the message of visual interest.
Websites are your 24/7 hours sales rep. Your company’s website should promote products/services and provide solutions and answers to potential customers. As important as your website content is, the medium of the website itself has a huge influence on your success. Unlike Twitter and LinkedIn, there are no restrictions on the length of content. Websites can also represent any level of professionalism. A website and your blog present your business is an easily digestible view. The medium is the message of presenting the details of your company to your audience.
Some may interpret McLuhan’s argument to state that the message is irrelevant altogether; this is ultimately not the case. What marketers should take from McLuhan’s theory is that the medium they use is the message they are sending to their customers. Know that each online medium, be it a social media platform or the blog on your website, will convey a different tone even if the message is the exact same. From a marketing perspective, know your audience and research the best medium or media to reach them. After all, the medium you choose will be the message.
If you’re launching a new website or updating an existing website, download our guide, Introduction to Website Best Practices.
This blog post was originally posted on Sept 1, 2011. The content has since been updated.