Social media is hot right now, particularly as a marketing tool for small businesses. But is all the hype real? Only one social media strategy makes sense to me – it’s simple and I’m going tell you what it is in this article.
Before I get to that, however, I want to answer two questions people frequently ask me about “social media”: What does it really mean and is my business allowed to participate in it?
Social media can be described as “websites and other online communication tools that allow large numbers of people to communicate and make professional and social connections.”
Although the term is new, online forums and bulletin boards have existed for years. They are based on the core ideas of interactivity as well as ‘user generated content’. This contrasts with traditional media which was created by professionals and meant for one-way consumption.
At the time of writing, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the “big four” social media platforms. LinkedIn is not yet available. Keep an eye on Google+, but it’s not where the audience is at the moment.
Does my business need to be involved in social media?
There is no one-size fits all solution. Social media gives businesses the ‘right of reply’. This is a key feature. I don’t suggest you go to every social media platform.
Be selective. Facebook’s audience consists primarily of younger people. The atmosphere is fun. LinkedIn is a professional network, and the atmosphere here is more serious. There may be other niche social networks that can be a better fit for you business.
Start by doing some research to find the right sites for you.
Two facts are certain: Every responsible business owner must at least consider social media.
1 The major social media platforms are heavily used and have huge audiences
Facebook, for instance, has approximately 750 million users at the time of writing. It would be the third-largest country if it were one.
The site is also’sticky’. Users visit it an average of 40 times per month and spend 23 minutes on each visit. This is a rare situation in the online world. This is an ENGAGED audience!
2 Businesses can participate in social media for free (and possibly see their message spread virally among large numbers of users).
Because while it may be free to create an audience on social media networks, you will most likely have to invest time – your only finite resource.
Marketers find this attractive because it can generate massive interest. For very little money, you can get web traffic, leads and new connections.
Social media has become a powerful tool for business promotion. The features available on social media platforms like Facebook are so rich that it has been suggested that company pages could replace standalone websites for businesses on the internet.
No matter what your social media skills are, I do not recommend embedding your online presence into a social networking site.
The number one, the internet world moves very quickly. Do you remember MySpace? Friends Reunited? Both were huge only a few short years ago. Although they still have some audience, they are now completely extinct.
Why? Facebook created a better website by accident.
With that in mind, can anyone really assert with bulletproof certainty that Facebook and Twitter will be around forever? It is possible for overnight sensations to disappear in an instant.
Number 2 If you base your marketing on one social network, how do you react if it changes its terms of service?
What if your Facebook fan page suddenly became a cost-intensive service? You could be charged for the YouTube videos you upload or the tweets you can send. Hmmm.
The best strategy for social media…
Therefore, I believe that your best strategy for using social media is to continue to build a great hub in the form your main website and then use all available social media tools to reach a larger audience.
You can be selective when choosing the right social networks for your company, even if you have limited time or resources.
It’s okay to start small so that you can engage in a consistent manner. A neglected or abandoned social profile is likely to cause more harm than good.
Engaging in those networks that have value but posting only your best content on your site or at the very least, first.
You must work hard to make your website (not your Facebook page) the main destination that people are driving to.
Make your website social so that visitors can share it on their social networks.
Optimize your website to convert visitors (i.e. Get them to do what you want.