In my experience, many people are overly reliant on their social media presence on the various social networks at the expense of their general web presence.  Whether you are online for professional purposes or for a personal hobby, you should focus on how your social media activity relates to your web presence elsewhere, and how the former should always be augmenting the latter.

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Neither just having a website or just having a social media presence is enough.
(Image via Shutterstock)

As with any activity that you undertake online, you should really ask yourself what you are looking to achieve with your posts and online publications.  If you are looking to increase brand awareness for a product or a service, you should have somewhere online a central point to which you should steer interested parties to.  This would act as a central portal, over which you would have complete control, from which you can market yourself, and this should take the form of a website.

The reason why should always have your own website, and not be entirely reliant on your social media presence, is that you are totally subjected to the terms and conditions of use of the social networks.  The social networks are quite within their rights to change these terms and conditions at short notice, and there is nothing that the user can really do about them bar if the changes are unfavourable.  A user does not own the content they post on social networks, and they have no rights as such to ensure ongoing, unobstructed free access to those networks.  If your access to that social network is limited or revoked in any way, you would have lost all the connections you have made on that network as well as all the content that you have posted to it.

It is therefore vital to see the social networks as just a way of raising brand or profile awareness, rather than a surrogate web presence in their own way.

Conversely, there is little point having a just a website with no associated online activity to promote its existence.  The days when having an excellent and SEO-tuned website alone would suffice for professional purposes are long gone.  You need to advertise and promote your website via the social networks, and in an engaging way.

But with social media marketing, it’s simply not good enough to post links to your site on, say, Facebook and Twitter without any context or inducement.  You may have excellent products and services, but why should anyone really care?  Most companies market themselves in such a fashion, extolling their virtues over competitors.

To engage people with your marketing, you must be offering content on your website that is of genuine value and interest to those you are trying to target.  Would you would-be client or customer actually get something out of visiting your website?  This is what all online marketers have to honestly ask themselves and, because of this, your intended social media marketing activity should dictate the type of content that should regularly be posted to your website.

With online marketing, it is not a question of “either/ or” with social networking and hosting your own web presence.  It is very much a symbiotic relationship, and one that should be thought out in advance before you embark on marketing yourself online.

As a final aside on a connected note, one should also think carefully about what social networks you should use to promote your other online presence.  Not all social networks are appropriate for all businesses, and social media is not a cost-free activity that many perceive it to be.  As with proactively managing a website, each social network has to be adequately resourced and staffed for it to be effective.

Also, unlike a website, social networking is not just about broadcasting your news and views to the wider world; it is about engaging with other users’ content and starting legitimate conversations with those of relevance and interest.  For why should anyone care about your posts when you demonstrate no interest in what anyone else has to say?

Social media marketing and web-hosting are therefore not synonymous with each other, and require two different approaches and sensibilities.  They are, however, linked in both purpose and function, and both should be undertaken if you are to have a health and effective web presence.

 

Nick Lewis Communications can provide a marketing assessment service, reviewing the client’s current marketing activity, suggesting improvements, highlighting marketing needs and including a project proposal to meet those needs. For a consultation, please e-mail info@nicklewiscommunications.com or call 07970 839137.

 

Nick Lewis is a communications professional with over 15 years’ experience of working in both the private and public sector.

Nick is now using his wealth of skills and experience to help small businesses and organisations adapt to the modern online age. He helps individuals understand the possible successful applications of Social Media for their business and how they can use and monitor online materials and Social Media themselves to meet their professional goals.

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