Flash in the pan or here to stay? Social media takes a hit.

Word on the street, well actually Marketing Week, is that Unilever's marketeers are diverting spend back into traditional marketing and away from social media, with in-store marketing delivering a whopping 50% ROI.

This could be viewed as surprising; Unilver has been one of the major FMCGs to embrace social media and pump in some major investment as a result. But perhaps because traditional marketing is so much easier to equate and evaluate the associated spend is deemed a better value for money option.

I hope the big brands don't throw the baby out with the bath water, but I agree that social media should be viewed as an integral part of the communications offer and not put on a pedestal.

It is difficult to get social media right, it isn't something you can pick up and launch with a fanfare, use as a short-term sales push and only use as a one way communicator, it isn't a megaphone it's building a community.

Because it is such a relative newcomer and, as yet, virtually impossible to evaluate social media is in danger of becoming the unruly teenager. Sometimes not helped by its image, sometimes negatively perpetuated by its advocates, as being a bit of a dark art. It's in danger of becoming the Emperor's New Clothes.

I strongly believe social media is here to stay, it is an amazing communications tool and has a rightful place in the marketing mix. But those gurus leading the way may have to do some of their own marketing, in a traditional sense, and prove its place in the market is a justified one.

Time for social media to stand up and be counted it seems.