Marshall McLuhan was a famous Canadian researcher who developed critical theories on “hot” and “cool” media technologies in the early ’60s. He coined the phrase, “the medium is the message”, which is a theory that states a medium embeds itself in a message and subsequently influences how the message is perceived. For example, identical listing content on Instagram and in a print ad will be perceived differently and have a different effect for the consumer. Where a movie or print is “hot”, because the viewer is passive, social media is “cool” because it requires active participation and has a learning component. It’s interesting to note that his definition of “cool” coincidentally deciphered popular usage and led to important insights on how people relate to their world in general.

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It’s easy to understand how social networks, blogging and websites compete for the attention of consumers when there is an exciting opportunity to be a part of a somewhat exclusive network that requires a degree of self-actualization. The attraction of personal, bi-directional engagement is one reason why people use social platforms for recreation, shopping and research and it’s why marketers use them to promote products and services.

Marketing is more about providing options for people to gather information than educating consumers. Studies have shown that media is consumed ad hoc depending on a person’s needs, not a particular loyalty to one medium or another. For example, buyers will consume real estate listings in a way that suits them for a particular time and place: MLS on mobile devices, televised listings and printed magazines, to name a few.

The elements of the new marketing triangle (high touch, high tech and traditional media) form an integrated media with three control levers. In co-operation, they create a network for a customer experience. A print ad refers people to a website, which may compel a prospect to phone the office. Market exposure in one venue affects the performance of another that is downstream from the entry point in the network.

The relationship between traditional media and new media is well studied. The consensus seems to be that social media may act as a beacon; sourcing and presenting little known information and news, making it available for traditional media to find. An example of this phenomena is in home decor. Something unusual or innovative might be shared first on social media, then a home staging tv show may do an episode on it, and ultimately buyers may begin to ask for that feature or provide it when selling. There is a diffusion effect from the origin of the message through the integrated media nodes.

The beat continues when television, radio and print affect word-of-mouth campaigns online through the sharing of posts and comments. It’s important to note that both channels serve equally important roles; where traditional media tends to have a stronger impact on marketing performance on a per-event basis, social media keeps the buzz going with low-cost distribution.

It’s interesting that we consume media concurrently. Have you ever seen something on television and used your phone to do a quick search on the product or event? Or have you typed a URL from a print ad into a nearby tablet to do some impulse shopping? Both scenarios are satisfying because they’re extraordinarily convenient and empower us to make better decisions or receive high-quality information on demand. The result is that a marketing presence in multiple channels will have a compounding effect on the message because the consumer can make choices, which is cool.

The power of convenience and self-service extends to communication as well. Blogs, social network postings and websites are two-way media that encourage people to participate in your business. You can use these channels to clarify and refine your message or to personally re-engage visitors, which is called high-touch marketing. The term simply refers to personal selling; exchanging marketing information directly with a prospect. It can happen at the client’s kitchen table, by email or through social media but it’s a key part of the triangle.

Finally, there are a number of different social media sites like Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest that may fit your comfort level better than others. Choose one or two that you like, set them to auto-update from your WordPress posts, and give them some exposure in your other marketing channels. It’s easy to do and may provide your business with a little extra advertising in places where people are already searching for your product.


  1. Let’s rethink this 60’s luv for a Fellow Canadian and start with a New Possibilities Premise that Marshall’s famous comments are either wrong, backwards or out of date …. or 2 out of three

    So let’s first add an individuals name to the article and then write a second draft of the same column using the New Probabilities Premise …. or any new premise of your choosing. And make it into a video (subtitled) that lasts no more than 100 seconds


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