There has been a lot of hype about social media over the past several years. And a lot of skepticism and debate amongst business owners about the value of social media as it relates to driving revenue growth.
We hear the comments; “I don’t want to tweet about what I had for breakfast this morning”, or “Facebook is just for twenty-somethings”.
So is social media important for business development purposes? The answer is…..yes!
To understand why, business owners and executives must acknowledge that the buying process has fundamentally changed.
According to Marketo and eConsultancy respectively, “93% of B2B buyers use search to begin the buying process while 37% post questions on social networking sites when looking for suggestions”. “Nearly two-thirds of consumers (61%) use search engines to help them with their product research decisions leading up to purchase”.
Effective use of social media is an integral element of any online marketing strategy because it can increase your visibility and credibility with both potential and exisiting customers. Social media has also become essential for search engine optimization becuase search engines are now considering social activity in their search results. If you want to be found online, your chances are better if you are visible and active on social sites.
With online marketing, one plus one equals three. The key to success is to use multiple tools that work together to achieve your objectives. But the best approach is quality over quantity; so you must concentrate your efforts on social media platforms that have characteristics that are best suited to your business.
A good starting point for any social media strategy is to assess whether you should be active with any of the “big five”. This brief synopsis will assist in determining which ones are applicable to your situation.
Provides the ability to easily “tweet” 140 character messages to a community of followers. Twitter is about the “here and now” as the average active life of a tweet is about twenty minutes. Some of Twitter’s practical business uses are driving traffic to your web site, developing thought leadership and authority, promoting events, introducing new products or services and on-going customer engagement.
Facebook has over one billion users. This social platform allows you to build a company page using its multi-media capabilities, and can be effectively used to present products or services, showcase enthusiastic customers who share their experiences via testimonials and success stories and for running promotions or contests.
LinkedIn allows you to create a public company profile that can include recommendations (testimonials) that bolster your credibility. Its key attribute is it offers access to a significant network of potential prospects. If you have 150 contacts in your LinkedIn profile, you could be only one introduction away from over 50,000 warm contacts. This platform is better suited for “B2B” companies.
Prospects are becoming accustomed to using video, rather than text, to review information about products or services. Video is also becoming more prominent for search engine optimization, ranking ahead of web sites for many searches. If you do a Google query such as “how to use a chainsaw”, you will find the top results are videos.
This social network is Google’s answer to Facebook, and is important for search engine purposes. Google +’s audience tends to be more educated and skewed towards technology and professional audiences.
The Bottom Line
You must embrace online marketing if you want to remain competitive and grow your business over time. And social media is a critical component of any online marketing strategy.
Stop fighting it, pick your spots, and get committed to taking advantage of these readily available and powerful business development tools.