I just spent about two hours cleaning up my social-media process and re-organizing a number of accounts, including some Twitter handles, a G+ account, Hootsuite, and some email accounts. Why am I dealing with this headache? Because it’s 90% of my marketing strategy.
Some of you out there ignore social media, I know. It may seem like Voodoo, or Hype, or Snake Oil. But it’s real.
Just look at the chart below — social media referrals to my blog, my primary vehicle for communicating with the outside world:
Now should I ignore that? Was it a waste?
Why do people want to ignore social media? Yes, it’s a bit of a headache and it’s time-consuming. Sometimes it feels like you “aren’t doing real work.” But as demonstrated by my chart, it is actually real work. It produces an effect: Interaction with your potential audience.
Many of you out there are technologists, and some of you are marketers. Most of you are businesspeople. It’s important to understand how this works, beause this is where the entire world of digital media is going — people increasingly share information and content via social media, rather than traditional media channels. Social media is the new one-to-many network, where you are the publisher.
Whether it’s a marketing project, special content promotion, or strategy, I get exposed to a lot of different social media “questions” with clients and business partners all the time. Here are some truths I’ve finding about in social-media marketing trends:
1) Social media is now widely accepted as a job. It used to be, if you said something about a “social media manager,” somebody would snort on their milk or beer. Now it’s just an accepted practice. Most companies have one, if not several, social media managers. Why is that? This is the primary way that people communicate with the market these days. Just watch the Twitter feeds they show on CNBC.
2) You need to constantly analyze and optimize the channels. Which channel is working best for you now? If you are a consumer brand, Facebook may be massively important. If you’re a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), LinkedIn is probably the place for you. Twitter runs the gamut. Pinterest? Truthfully, I have no idea.
Depending on your market and focus, you need to find out how your audience is using each channel. This takes regular study, analysis, and optimization. Then, once you know were to focus, you should focus on one or two channels. Using all the social media channels is nearly impossible, especially if you are a relatively small company.
3) This stuff is time consuming — prioritize. You need a strategy. You need a team. You need assignments, tasks, and priorities. Otherwise you can waste hours, wandering around figuring out what to do.
4) Social media is the new “search.” I can’t tell you how many times in the last few months somebody has pointed out that they are seeing more growth from media channels than they are from search. Does this mean that Google is about to collapse? No. But it does mean that the fastest communciations growth rates are on social, with the big three taking the lion’s share: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Theres a reason their valuations have soared in the last three years (no, I’m not saying they are fairly valued now).
5) Social media works. When done right. Of the people I’ve done business with, I’ve probably connected with at least a dozen of them over social channels in the last six months. It’s a great way to find people with shared interests, and to start the process of developing a business relationship. It’s also a great tool for expanding your brand. Don’t ignore it.
Let’s not overcomplicate things — social media is just another way to connect with your audience and potential customer base. It takes work, but it needs to be done well, with thought, and it needs to be real and genuine. Otherwise, it does not work.