There are so many reasons to be using social media as part of your marketing. Here are my top 5:

1. Engage vs Push. Marketing used to simply ‘push’ messages at the consumer and you’d hope to make a connection if they liked what you had to offer. Times have changed and so has marketing. People want to feel more connected with products or companies they choose to do business with. Social media helps to ‘engage’ people.

2. Transparency. When done correctly, your prospective clients get to know you better. They see if you have some of the same beliefs as they do, allowing them to form connections with you. Don’t just advertise sales to them. Give them a taste of who you are beyond the sale. What is your commitment to the community? Do you contribute to your industry as an expert? Why do you do what you do?

3. Handle the Haters. Within social media, you actually want a small percentage of your followers to raise issues. If it is all a love fest, it is boring, self serving and you’ll actually lose credibility. People like a little controversy (think Rush Limbaugh). You may even find other fans coming to your defense when someone raises an issue, which is wonderful marketing. You should develop a response plan to handle the haters, because how you handle the issue will say something about who you are.

4. Google Footprint. The search engines give high value to social media channels. When you have a robust presence in the big 5 (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Flikr), you will see a better Google Footprint and this will also help your websites search engine optimization (SEO) with backlinks from all your social media channels.

Be sure and define which channels will work best for your target audience and then spend your time accordingly to build the best channels for your needs. Social media can become a black hole where you spend far too many hours and valuable resources. Set limits on your time or hire someone to help you keep your content current.

5. Need another reason? Your prospective clients are on social media right now!

CAUTION: Many businesses and law firms are jumping on the bandwagon to the exclusion of other marketing channels. Social media SHOULD be part of your marketing, but it should not be the only thing you do. Consult a professional to help you with your planning and budgeting so you have the right marketing mix.

Author: Jeanne Frazer heads up The Expert Speakers, a group that provides marketing, management and motivational speakers, writers, coaches and mentors with expertise in all facets of marketing and management across numerous industries for events, seminars and workshops. Frazer is also president of vitalink® a creative + strategic marketing think tank, and strategic partner for Lawyers Marketing Agency and Catalyst Group, Inc.  Jeanne may be reached at [email protected] or 919.850.0605.