Tagged with " social media"
An interesting question that crops up from time to time that still surprises me, is when a client we’ve been working with for a number of months asks if social media is “worth it”.
Where social media is concerned, there’s a short answer to that question, as well as the long version. The short answer would be a unquestioning yes, while the longer version isn’t negative, although it’s not as clearly positive as the short version. There is a real reason behind the difference in the answers however, and I’ll get to those in a minute. But first I’ll give a few pointers as to why social media is a good thing to do in general.
The way that I’ve found is simplest to describe social media marketing to clients with the least amount of confusion is to use the idea of parking lot flyers. You know the ones, when you go to the mall to pick up your holiday shopping and you come outside to find a flyer underneath your wiper blades or a card tucked into your window frame. It’s mildly inconvenient, only in that you have a slip of paper or cardboard to deal with, but chances are in that split second while you deal with you, you’ll be reading the content of that piece of paper. You get your message out to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in very short order, but there’s no immediate response or interaction between you. That’s the clear short answer of “yes social media marketing is good”.
Social marketing methods like using Twitter or Facebook kind of fall into the same level of advertisement quality. The key difference though where the web is concerned is how actively you want to engage your potential audience. And this is where the grey area comes into play with using that type of audience interaction. With the flyer idea, it’s like a fire and forget method, and you get what you get in the end. The conversion and retention rates are likely to be low, but you’re going for a saturation effect. But where online is concerned, you’ll be able to directly correspond with your customer base, so you can engage them in conversation, whether it’s to answer questions about your advertising campaign or perhaps a special that you’re trying to promote. The long answer of “yes it’s good but..” is you will only get as much out of social media marketing as you’re able to put into it. If you can only setup a campaign but pay no attention to it, you’re just as well off paying a couple of youths to distribute flyers in a mall parking lot.
There is a quickly growing trend on the web that has gained a ton of coverage about why it is the “go to” tool where your business is concerned. And while it can be a very powerful tool to use to gain exposure for your business and it’s services, it needs to be done correctly and consistently. It’s not search engine optimization or search engine marketing that is causing recent growth, it’s using the social media side of the web.
Using social media to gain visibility on the web is a perfect avenue for any small business owner as the cost of entry is zero where dollars are concerned, it really requires only your time. You need to make sure though, that if you decide to go down the social media avenue that you are ready to do what is necessary to maintain your business’s image. Using Facebook and Twitter for example is a great way to get out the message that you’re having a limited time sale, and you can broadcast that out instantly to anyone following your posts or tweets. Therein lies one of the automatic problems though where social media is concerned, your follower base and how do/did you acquire them. If you’ve done your homework, and you’re genuinely active on the social web then you will easily attract a qualified audience, those who are interested in your products and services. Your ideal best case scenario for social media is to use it as just another means of conversation with your customer base, as it can allow for rapid problem solving if an issue should arise, and it can bring changed products and services to the fore front when needed.
There is however, a dark side to the social side of the web in the form of detractors, competitors, and sometimes there are just some users out to cause a fuss. When you’re confronted with these types of issues, it can very quickly paint a picture of what type of business owner you are to the rest of your audience, subscribed to your feeds or not. The quip that bad news travels fast is never more true than when you’re in the social space, and if you mishandle a customer or client interaction you can find your business on a slippery downward slope.
Here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself before you get your business involved in the circus that is known as the social web. If you find it difficult to answer the following questions, or you don’t have clear answers, then you and your business are not ready for the social side of the internet. And just because “everyone” is using social media to gain exposure, doesn’t mean it is required in your online profile, if the job isn’t handled correctly it can sink your business just as well as improve it.
Can we benefit from a social media presence?
How do we build our audience?
Who is going to work our social accounts?
How do we announce sales/service changes/updates on our social accounts?
How do we handle negative feedback on our social accounts?
In the last few months Facebook has come out in the open about their own search offering, and if you are interested in trying it you can sign up for it. It’s an intriguing idea Graph search, but as numerous blogs and articles on the web quickly discovered, the results which are returned can be a little on the flaky side at times. You can even go so far as to somewhat toy with the search interface, and come up with some very unusual search settings as an example.
The service is still in its infancy, it has a lot of learning and lot of growing to do. One of the main complaints that has come up however, that has been consistent across all articles is the web search feature provided by Graph search is lacking. In fact, it’s lacking enough that it may as well be non-existent, so there were writers out there who had hoped that the service would improve over time. It seems that their prayers will go unanswered, for the time being at least, as Grady Burnett, VP of Global Marketing for Facebook said, in no uncertain terms there will be no external search engine. The actual quote from SMX West:
GB: I don’t see that happening. We called it “Graph Search” because we’re focused on letting people search the Facebook graph. So my answer would be no.
There is going to be a handful of different responses to this message from the company, some will be cheering, others will be jeering of course, but those in the search industry who truly understand, won’t be surprised at all. When you consider all aspects of the internet, not just search and social, a picture will begin to form. This map obviously isn’t an exact replication of what the internet looks like, or how it’s divided, but it makes it easier to understand, and see why Zuckerberg, who built the largest social network in existence, isn’t worried about external search at the moment. There is so much more out there that isn’t Google or Bing or Yahoo to worry about, they’re only a fraction of what makes the web so massive.
In all the ruckus made about the issues of privacy that people keep bringing up, it always comes back to the same question. If you’re so unhappy, why don’t you just stop using it? The real issue with privacy and being online that the vast majority don’t, or won’t realize, is it doesn’t truly exist. If you want your information to be private, never sign anything. Never use the internet, don’t get an email address and move to a mountain side. And even then, even if you lived all alone in a shack on the side of a mountain, if someone sees you and writes a blog about you, sorry, no more privacy. All you can do to maintain control online is to be aware of the sites you use, what their policies are and what they change too if they change. Google didn’t change anything about how they do their work, they simply stream lined it to make it easier for the user, and for them. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, all massive companies all of which became that way because you’ve used their products and given them your information. Companies don’t grow like trees, they grow with your personal, private information.
For a new business starting up, or for those looking to make their presence known online, the over whelming amount of options you have can be staggering. There’s pay per click, organic search engine optimization, social media and social media optimization, the internet is a speedway filled with potholes if you’re not careful.
Pay per click marketing, also known as AdWords, is a pretty straight forward marketing plan. It’s bidding on ad placement within relevant search results, to put it plainly. If your ad is deemed relevant, and you’ve won the bid, your ad will be displayed in a “Sponsored Listings” box on the results page. Basic optimization needs to be kept in mind, as well as the quality of your website and it’s landing pages.
Organic search engine optimization, SEO, or the holy grail of online marketing, are the results you see in the center of the page when you conduct a search. A fair amount of time, resources, knowledge and creativity are involved where organic SEO is concerned. Finding an expert in the field can be a difficult, if not troubling experience. In recent years, the field has become inundated with web designers, graphic artists and the like all proclaiming to be SEO experts. If you find your business is being contacted by parties wanting to sell you SEO services, here’s a little tip. After they tell you their business name, try searching for them. Because after all, if they can’t list their own business, how can they list yours?
Then we get into the bustling world of social media. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and now Pinterest all vie for your attention. And as an added result, your customers attention as well. It’s incredibly cost effective, if not free, to become invested with social media for your business. The majority of your investment is going to be with your time and creativity. Taking the time to leverage all of the social angles is a consuming process, but it’s well worth it as it can quickly build a positive brand image.