In a previous article, 8 Things To Consider Before You Embark On Social Media Marketing, I highlighted many important points for people to consider before they started using social media professionally, but the most important question I asked in that article was, and remains, “What are you hoping to achieve with your social media marketing?”
It is such an important question, because the answer will inform which social networks you should be using, how much of your time should be devoted to social media and it will give you clear goals to aim for.
Why social media?
You have to establish a clear reason as to why you want to use social media to market yourself or your business/ organisations. You also have to be honest and realistic with yourself as to what you expect back as a consequence of your social media marketing. Without a clear rationale as to why you are using social media and without a clear set of expectations and targets, your social media campaign will be doomed from the outset.
For example, are you looking just for sales or are you just looking to social media marketing as means to increase traffic to your website or improve your site’s SEO (Search Engine ranking)? Do you view social media primarily as a means of establishing a brand and an engaged set of followers for your services? Do you have fixed, quantifiable metrics or goals regards to your social media activity, whether that be a number of followers, number of shares or number of click-throughs on any one given social network?
All of the above have to be adequately answered, even before you sign up to a specific social network. If you are in any doubt as to what you want to want to achieve through social media marketing, you should talk to colleagues or trusted external consultants as to how they think it could augment and benefit your business.
What are your assumptions of social media?
As my last article highlighted, there are several practical considerations as to how a social media marketing campaign is manned and resourced, and these should be offset against your hopes and aspirations of a social media marketing campaign.
As someone who specialises in online marketing, I am the last person to discourage people from using social media to promote their brand, products and services but I have a realistic assumption that social media activity comes at a cost, even if it is only your own time to support it. Social media marketing is not an easy, ephemeral, free thing that you can just bolt onto your marketing structures; it has to be thought through.
Social media is not for everyone
You may even conclude that social media marketing is not necessarily appropriate or affordable for your business and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Social media is not for everyone or for every business, and it is certainly true that not all of the social networks are appropriate for all businesses.
It is worth pointing out however although that some form of online presence is needed for most businesses now, even if it just a basic one. Not having a website or weblisting, or even not being on any social network, will increasingly be seen as somewhat eccentric and archaic.
Think of the technological communications revolution of the last decade and their mass adoption, and how they have radically changed our own behaviour and interactions. And then consider what would you think if you discovered that a modern business did not have any kind of telephone number. Your response will be analogous to those (especially of younger people) who currently struggle to find you on a social network or the wider web; you would be missing out on potential custom and there would be a negative connotation for your business.
Ultimately, I would argue that all businesses should have some form of online presence, due to both positive and negative factors. A consideration should always be what your immediate competitors are doing in terms of marketing and whether they are having any overt success by doing it. If one or several of your competitors has an active Twitter page with lots of relevant, engaged followers or a Facebook Business Page with lots of ‘likes’, you should be really considering adopting an analogous or rival strategy. Your absence in light of their online presence is a huge negative when it comes to the visibility of your company or organisation.
But your ultimate decision on whether you should embrace social media or what you hope to achieve by doing so should not be viewed solely in a negative terms. A considered, sustainable and appropriate social media marketing campaign can pay dividends (both short term and long term) for an organisation as long as you know how to quantify your successes and failures on social media.
Social media is not for everyone, but it should be seriously considered, eyes wide open, by most businesses, even if they set themselves small, affordable goals by being on just one social network. It is just having a clear understanding of what’s involved in a campaign along the proportionality of the resources provided with the results expected.
Nick Lewis Communications can provide training in social media marketing as well as offer professional management of social media feeds. To find out, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07970 839137.