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Social Media

The Myths of Social Media Marketing & Social Media Campaigning

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube… You’ve probably heard of them all, but what are they? They’re social networking and social media websites, and right now, they’re all the rage for almost ANY business out there. They practically promise new customers, new sales, higher page ranking on Google and the list goes on…

But are social networking sites really all they’re cracked up to be?  Let’s look at it from a business owner’s prospective and then we’ll extrapolate from there.

There are some myths that surround these sites and what they may (or may not) be able to do for you and your business.  Let’s take a look at some of them now:

They’re Free!
Using a social media site is not as easy or cheap as many people may think. Sure, most let you set up an account for free. And you can integrate other services, such as your blog or YouTube videos, at no charge. But there’s a significant cost: your time. Because there’s nothing worse than a site that’s not current. And to keep it current, someone is going to need to spend that time. This is where I had mentioned that some companies actually do hire a full-time SEO and Social Media Marketing person. This includes responding to visitors’ questions, posting brilliant thoughts, adding graphics, and monitoring activity—basically trying to generate buzz. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have that kind of time; however, we can help.

They’re a great place to find new customers
This is true to some degree. In fact; some of the most avid users of Facebook and Twitter are adolescents and teenagers. Sure, there’s a growing number of “thirty-some-things” and “forty-some-things”— but many are merely nostalgic to check out boyfriends and girlfriends from years past. Whatever they’re doing on Facebook, it’s typically not engaging with a small business brand. BUT – how do you make your brand engaging on social media websites? That’s where we can help!

Twitter has millions of users, but apparently only four of them actually understand what it does and spend the time updating their tweets. Are these the people who will buy your company’s newest product or service? It’s quite unlikely. But there is a way to target your audience, and we can help.

There are other social outlets though that are tailored for people who run their own companies. Industry groups have started their own communities. Technology manufacturers have them, too. They used to be called “newsgroups” and “support sites,” but now the buzz-word is “communities.” Same thing. These are places where business owners and managers go to post and answer questions about product problems, customer service queries, saving money on taxes, generating leads, hiring employees, etc… You don’t hear about these sites much because they’re what most would consider boring; however, LinkedIn has changed all of this. The point is this: there are many ways to not only engage customers, but attract them as well to your website or to your social media outlet(s).

You need to be on all the BIG sites!
Besides spending a lot of time and effort, business owners we know who have succeeded with social networking sites generally focus on just a few of them. Although they dabble on Pinterest and Twitter, most owner’s main vehicle is Facebook. Some companies even prefer to build a business community on LinkedIn. We know quite a few guys who live on a couple of technology community sites and generate leads from them by consistently responding to questions and helping other users. Just because the media says it’s cool to “tweet” (as in Twitter) doesn’t mean it has anything to do with your business. If you’re going to frequent social community sites, don’t spread yourself too thin. Most of the people we know who use these things successfully pick their weapon and give it their all.

Social networking sites are for marketing
Not true at all. We’ve learned from experience that smart business owners that use social communities are not using them for marketing. They’re using them as a service. Recently, we helped extend a large furniture company’s brand and service to Facebook.  They now see that these places are ways to get closer to their customers and respond to their needs. By providing quick and helpful customer service through these sites, they see they will foster loyalty and satisfaction, resulting in more sales.

So, whenever someone tells you that you should explore social networking for “marketing,” you should run in the other direction. It’s an extension of customer service. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its place for marketing purposes, but it is more important to expand the relationship. It’s fostering loyalty and trust.

Social networking is the future
Is that so? Some of these may appear to be cool and trendy sites now, but they aren’t going to be so cool and trendy in the near future. The percentage of Twitter users in a given month who return the following month has languished below 30% for most of the past year, according to Nielsen Wire. And MySpace is almost non-existent now. Remember GeoCities? Yahoo! had shut that down a long time ago. A lot of business owners aren’t thrilled about committing time and resources to a vanishing trend. Maybe social networking is a permanent phenomenon. That doesn’t mean its main players today will be the main players tomorrow. And let us not forget the recent Facebook privacy melee.

Should a business owner use social media sites for business? Maybe… Then again, maybe other customer service approaches make more sense. Remember newsletters, email marketing, phone calls and support, seminars, partnering, and the like? Just because the media have determined that social networking is “in” doesn’t mean your customers are there yet. But chances are – they are.

For more information on how we can properly help you utilize these sites (if need be) contact us for more information.

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