I really like the distinction this blog post makes about owned v. rented online marketing channels. As the post illustrates, your website is the channel you own, while your company's presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the places you rent space to market your company.
The author makes the point that companies must do both in order to be sucessful, but if you have to choose one over the other, it's better to focus your efforts on the property you own: your website.
While I think that's true -- that you'd want to pick your website over your social media presence -- I think it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore social media, even for the smallest businesses. A website without a social media presence is kind of like a tree falling in the woods. If there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound. Social media is how brands get heard today. If you want your company to make a noise, you better have your rented social media channels established.
You’ve been told that you need to engage in social media marketing, but you’re not convinced. You’re already busy, so why add another thing to your long to-do list? Well, here’s a brief crash course in what social media marketing can do for your small business:
The best thing about social media marketing is that it is a free* way to reach your customers. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to get news out to your customers about a new product launch, your only option was to go to media outlets and advertise. But today, you can blog about your new product on your website and then spread that blog post via your email newsletter and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
The key to being strategic about social media (we like the word strategic; it’s in the name of our company after all) is to think about your customers. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you have to first consider what type of clientele is going to come to your restaurant. Are they young? Or are they old? Are they rich? Or are they middle class? The answers to those questions are going to help you determine the social media outlets you want to focus your marketing efforts on. Click here to request a PDF report on the various demographics of social media site.
Another important point to remember when it comes to social media is that it’s ongoing. You can’t just set up a Facebook page and then sign off for six months. If you are going to engage in social media marketing, you need to commit to it. That doesn’t mean you have to devote a ton of time to it, however. For example, if your website has a blog, just make sure that you distribute your posts via your social media accounts. That will help extend the reach of your blog posts and improve your search engine results, which will in turn increase traffic to your site, which will in turn mean more sales leads for your business. See, it’s just that easy**.
*Technically social media is free. But if you include the time you or your staff spend on it, there is a cost. And then once you get more involved in social media marketing, you may find yourself spending money on more advanced management tools or marketing campaigns to attract more followers for your social media accounts. As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Same applies to marketing.
**Well, it’s not THAT easy. But it’s not impossible. It just takes some time and some planning. We can help you with both of those, by the way.
I write a column for the Worcester Business Journal called Digital Diva. In it, I write about technology issues impacting businesses. Not surprisingly that often involves social media. In my most recent column, I looked at how effective Facebook really is at driving sales for ecommerce businesses. The truth is, it's not terribly effective. But that doesn't mean you should give up on Facebook entirely. Find out why by reading the complete column at WBJournal.com.
I'm Christina H. Davis and I'm the founder and owner of Hall Davis Marketing Strategies. Learn more about me on my LinkedIn profile.