Social media is here to stay, but is it necessary to engage in social marketing or transform your business into a “social business?” Businesses have been both blessed and burned by tangling with social media platforms. In this Q&A, we’ll go over some of the major issues faced by companies who are deciding to take the plunge.
“When I learned businesses it was way before social media was invented. Do I REALLY have to learn this stuff?”
The answer to this is yes, you do need to be familiar with it. However, getting your business involved with it is another matter entirely. Confused?
Right now, businesses are in the “disillusionment” phase of adopting social media. Here’s what they’ve learned so far:
• Social media is not a silver bullet for business success on the Internet.
• Rather, social media is a channel, much like traditional media outlets, with its own rules that must be learned and internalized before it can be used effectively. Merely having a Twitter and Facebook account does not make your business “social.”
• The use of social media for business purposes must be shaped by an underlying marketing strategy.
• Social media provides benefits in the long-term through positive connections with people. It does not directly drive profit, and misuse of social media can lead to a negative ROI.
You and your business must be familiar with social media, but engagement with those channels must be done intelligently. The businesses that were initially successful with social media stumbled upon the strategies necessary to do this.
As time passes and social media marketing strategies mature, social media may become a necessary part for your business strategy regardless. Most people spend their time online with social media more than any other use, and are using these platforms more and more throughout the day. If you want to capture their attention, then you will need to go to where they are gathering and learn how to grab it.
“What if I decide that social media doesn’t fit into my strategies. Can I ignore it?”
Sorry. If your business has an internet presence then your company must be at least a little familiar with what goes on in the social media world. Since people trust recommendations from friends far higher than traditional advertising, it makes sense to have someone at least doing reputation management for you in social media. This is especially true for medium and small businesses. Having negative reviews on local search engines like Yelp! and Google Maps can be devastating to a business.
“How can I begin learning about social media?”
Education is key, but you must go beyond the echo chamber of business books and what industry leaders are saying. Nothing will teach you faster about social media than direct experience with the platform. Make some personal accounts and learn the culture behind each platform. Then start investigating businesses who are successful at engaging with that culture and see if their best practices align with your long-term business goals.
“Can I just hire a pro to do this for us?”
Yes, there are companies that do specialize in reputation management and social marketing. If you choose to engage with one, you will need to clearly communicate what you wish to achieve through social media and how you see it aligning with your long-term business strategy. Collecting lots of “likes” and “followers” just means that you’re getting attention. It doesn’t mean that they will actually generate any revenue for your business. Find a company that can show you how social marketing will directly benefit your ROI and stay in line with your overall business objectives.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)