The common wisdom for marketing professionals today is that social media is simply a part of what you do. From a cost-benefit standpoint, if you’re creating quality content on a regular basis, then it’s crazy not to be there. It’s free (unless you choose the paid advertising options) and it gives you (again, free) opportunities to make contact with potential customers and clients.
However, during a recent discussion of small business owners participating in a meeting organized by Berkshire Enterprises, it was clear that some were not convinced that social media was worth the time and effort. They may very well be right, and who knows a business better than its owner.
However, this got me thinking about this very question. Is it worth it or not? And how would a business owner know the difference? Based on misconceptions I’ve heard from time to time, here are a few points that people ought to consider before jumping into social media headfirst or dismissing it outright.
- If you think social media is just for young people, you’re wrong. During this recent discussion, I heard things like “my customers are older” or “I’m not into all that stuff the kids do.” Just a perusal of Facebook users reflects that it’s not just for young people. Actually, the latest statistics may suggest that the kids aren’t as into
Facebook compared to their parents and grandparents, as nearly half of its users are 45+. Anecdotally, some of the most active people in my Facebook universe are baby boomers. Some of the new social media outlets trend younger, but stalwarts Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn include a healthy mix of young and old.
- Some argue social media does not replace real interaction, conversations or a handshake. This is true. However, the goal of social media is not necessarily to close the deal. It’s to cast a wider net, reinforce consistent messaging and drive potential customers your way. In a combination of old school marketing that preaches constant exposure for top of mind presence and new inbound linking methods to capture new customers, social media is a multi-dimensional tool. There are free eyeballs there.
- Social Media doesn’t have to take much of your time.Some of the Berkshire Enterprise business owners argued that social media was a time-suck that would distract them from the more important parts of running their business. Indeed, social media can be a distraction if you don’t
approach it correctly. However, when settings are adjusted properly, you don’t need to spend much time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. There are programs you can use that will allow you to post to all of your social media outlets with one click and you can also be notified when you receive a message on any – through your email, eliminating the need for constant checking.
- Have a strategy. While you don’t have to spend much time on social media, you need to be consistent. Say you sell menswear. The content you post can be as deep as a 500-word blog post on what your suit says about you during a job interview, or as simple as a photo of one of your new spring suits, or even more simple, a post announcing: “Today Only: 40 percent off all winter attire to make way for spring inventory.” The point is, you need consistency. Depth of content can be beneficial, but really anything that may draw interest (particularly photos or other visuals) can be helpful. As an example of what not to do, I recently noticed a financial institution that decided that it ought to have a social media presence. It started a Facebook business page last spring. It also has Twitter and Google+ icons on its webpage saying “let’s get social.” That’s all well and good, except for the fact that the Facebook page has had a total of five posts since its inception – the last being in July. The moral of the story? Don’t do social media at all if you’re not going to be social at all. A stale and unresponsive social media presence makes your business look just as stale and unresponsive.
- If you’re already creating quality content, then you ought to be distributing it through social media. If a business is already spending dollars on advertising, literature, web content, videos, or something else that takes time, energy and money – then why not cast a wider net by using social media. Have a newspaper ad to promote a new product? Post the ad as a jpg on your social media outlets with a link to your webpage highlighting the product. Have a new television ad? Post the video on YouTube and link it to your social media. You get the idea. Whether you know it or not, there’s an excellent chance that your customers, or potential customers, are on social media. Why not make the small investment of just a little time and energy to make contact?
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., John Krol serves as Director of Accounts and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, SEM, community outreach and marketing provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts.