A lot of fuss is made about the effectiveness of social media when it comes to marketing businesses online; not without justification either. However, it isn’t for everybody.
Some brands don’t see the value in it, others are worried about stray messages damaging the company, and then there are those who simply don’t have the time. Social media marketing can be effective, but it’s not a guarantee of success. Get it right and your business can really prosper, but get it wrong and you might find yourself wasting a lot of time with very little return.
However, with social signals now informing search engine rankings, it is becoming more challenging for those who choose not to maintain successful Twitter or Facebook profiles to get seen on Google. That’s not to say that it is entirely impossible though.
Prioritising Your Marketing Activity
For some businesses, social media would simply provide an unnecessary distraction. If you’ve got nothing to say, then it’s best to say nothing at all. A Twitter profile with no Avatar and that hasn’t been updated since late 2010 is probably going to cause more harm than good. It shows a general lack of care or attention, which isn’t an image most brands wish to portray.
If you’re vehemently opposed to the idea of social media, you will need to find an alternative mode of marketing. Search Engine Optimisation is a decent start, but you need to know what your main focus is.
For instance, if you’re a small business with just a couple of stores or offices, your focus might be on attracting customers from the local area. In this case, your emphasis would need to be on targeting location-specific terms related to your services. You should also take ownership of business profiles too on all the major sites – including Google Places and Yell. All of these will work to improve your visibility within search engines.
Employ Traditional Marketing and PR Techniques
You will also need to be clever with your PR campaigns. Developing media contacts and publishing releases online and offline can drum up extra interest, increase links and generally spread the good word. This can also increase word of mouth advertising amongst your target audience and will work well in tandem with offline forms of marketing. Discuss opportunities to provide comments for articles in national publications or writing for specialist trade magazines. Your primary target should be to create awareness and get seen in the right places as often as possible, just as with any traditional marketing campaign.
In most instances, social media acts as a catalyst for your marketing activity. It can support the other elements and bring them all together. Although, with every dimension you add, there’s more work to be done in order to maintain your profile. Again, this isn’t for everybody. So if you’re not convinced by Google+ or any of the others, you need to make sure that your other efforts are able to give you the visibility you need.
As social signals get more prevalent, which they will almost certainly do, businesses are going to have to consider re-evaluating their stance, or upping their efforts elsewhere. However, there are plenty of companies (big and small) who continue to succeed despite their unwillingness to get involved with Twitter or Facebook. So if you have reservations or know that you won’t have the time or desire to update your accounts effectively, then you shouldn’t feel pressurised to do so.
As a note of caution, just because you’re not on a social network, it doesn’t mean that people can’t talk about you. Allowing comments, negative or positive, to go without response can be dangerous. So ignorance is certainly not bliss on the Internet. There is also a small chance that somebody could potentially take your brand name and even post messages as if they are from your business – just ask Shippam’s Paste. This shouldn’t railroad you into taking action, but you certainly need to be aware of the risks.
Social media is still not the be all and end all for businesses though. Don’t get me wrong, it has proved to be hugely effective and is only going to become more important when it comes to online visibility; but if you don’t want to be on Facebook or fancy sharing images on Pinterest, there are still opportunities aplenty for marketing your business online and off. But whatever you do, don’t bury your head and ignore it entirely. If the time comes where you have the resources to set-up and manage an account, it probably wouldn’t be the worst decision you ever make – just be sure to avoid these social media mistakes.