Social Media is the way marketing is done … everyone knows that. But did you know that it would be better not to do it than to get it wrong?
When we started talking about Social Media Marketing in 2009, it was still a fairly foreign concept to most business people. We encouraged business owners to participate in sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We did slide shows and videos, explaining the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. We tried to explain that while the overall goal was sales, it was not as straightforward as traditional marketing, but required a very different approach.
After six years, we have modified our “take” on Social Media Marketing. We now encourage business owners to let a professional handle these marketing programs.
Over the years, several important changes have occurred:
- More Social Sites are now available. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been joined by Pinterest, Google Plus and Instagram. Each has a large and interested following. Each has specific rules and strategies that must be followed in order to market on them successfully.
- More people are active on more social media sites. Facebook’s 1.4 billion active members, along with the millions on other sites make for a very crowded space. It is hard to find the right content that will “cut through the noise.”
- Facebook and other sites have had to make decisions on what makes it to a member’s News Feed. Facebook recently announced that promotional posts will see a significant drop in distribution. In other words, most people will not see advertising messages unless the company pays for them. For business owners, who have been using their News Feeds as free advertising spaces, this will be a major drawback.
- The average consumer checks several online sources for the products and services they are interested in, and expect each of the social sites they check to provide good information in ways that make sense within the construct of the site. Understanding what, when and how and where to post is becoming more complicated.
- Google and other search engines are now including social posts in their search engine results, often delivering Facebook and Twitter posts before websites. This means that key words are an important part of every social media post.
- While analytics are difficult to gauge in Social Media, in order not to waste time (and money) someone who understands social media needs to monitor the sites in order to assess what is working and what is not.
- People connecting with companies on Social Media sites expect answers to their questions and responses to their problems. This requires that someone available to answer those questions or refer them to the right person within the organization. Most business owners don’t have the time or patience to check their sites throughout the day.
The skill set needed to run a successful Social Media Marketing program today includes a thorough understanding of the various sites and the ability to write posts that translate a company’s message into words that get attention and rank well on search engines. Finally, since images are an important part of most of the social media sites today, including Twitter, someone with a background in graphic design and the ability to optimize image size and dimensions required by various social sites is increasingly important. Running a successful social media marketing program takes experience, education and research – and a lot of time. Time that business owners have all too little of these days.