It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things we're supposed to be doing with social media . . . Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogging . . . who has time to run a business, right?
No doubt Social Media has an important place in at the table of marketing disciplines. But it's just one chair. If you are feeling burdened by your lack of a Facebook presence or the fact that you can't figure out what to blog or tweet about, consider:
- If your company sells to businesses but needs a direct brand awareness with consumers, then Facebook and Twitter should be part of your marketing efforts.
- If your company sells to businesses and has something very meaningful to teach or share that your potential business customers want to learn and that something makes it more likely those prospects will call you to do business, then you should blog.
- If your company sells to businesses and you have something so compelling to say about that business that your potential customers are likely to flag it so as never to miss it, then you should Tweet.
Every business needs a business legitimizing website. It's no longer an option. But what you do with that website must be determined by your business objectives.
- If your market is potentially the entire world of consumers or a very large and dispersed list of business owners, then you should pay attention and $$ to SEO marketing.
- If your market is much more contained - a niche or a well-defined market- then making sure your website is properly optimized for organic SEO will be sufficient.
- If you have a consumer base that is likely to look for you on Facebook and converse about business issues with you on Facebook, then you need a Facebook presence that is integrated with your website.** But if Facebook isn't where your customer base lives and breathes, it may not be something you need to spend much energy on.
Every business owner should be networking, so having a profile on LinkedIn and Google+ (increasingly a place where people are doing business networking) is important.
So, if social media isn't the cure-all for your business, what is? All the rest of your marketing options, that's what! Traditional marketing options are still alive and well and possibly your best bet for acquiring new customers and keep the existing customers interested.
- Manage your customer lists closely and email regularly to your potential client base. Make sure you include links back to your website to draw their attention to specific services or products you have to offer. An added benefit of this type of marketing is that you can constantly test and refine your promotions, which allows you to improve both your outreach and your website over time.
- Join the local chapter of your industry association(s). Networking is still one of the surest ways to create business opportunity!
- Participate on your industry association(s) websites. Many of those offer robust networking opportunities through their own social media offering - which could be far more relevant to your business than the general public social media options of Facebook and Twitter.
- Participate in your industry's social media conversations (blog commentaries, twitter feeds, social media activity within the trade magazine's websites) to ensure that your time spent using social media is better targeted to potential customers.
- Trade print is a bit iffier these days. Some industries still have one or two strong print presences in which you can advertise and have confidence that your business targets are seeing your message. If your industry has a magazine with strong readership and proven results, then print is an option for you as well.
I'm a big fan of social media, but it's only valuable in the right context and for the right reasons - much like every other advertising media. If you clarify who you are trying to sell to, what they are likely to respond to, and where they are consuming their media, you can shed some of your stress over the things you are not doing and focus your attention more profitably on the areas that matter.
** What about this idea that you can have a Facebook presence (Etsy, eBay, et. al.) and no website? Well, do you want to bet your business presence on the internet on some other company whose strategy is not your own? Who may change dramatically - and without warning - at any time? Please make sure you build and maintain your own website to ensure your long-term marketing viability and strategic control on the internet.