Why Social Media?
In the past few articles, I’ve been focused on online basics; websites, search engine optimisation, blogging, and combining the three- blogging on your website for SEO. By now we’ve got a website, we are hopefully blogging regularly, and are creating and publishing pages and content that Google loves; high quality, relevant, and eventually linked to and read by a growing number of people. What’s next?
As much as things seemingly change, I find it amazing how some fundamentals remain constant. Before the computer age, before the internet, if someone wanted to set-up a business or organisation they would first have to come-up with a product, service, or a message, build or rent a brick and mortar office or store, and then they would have to get the message out that people could get this awesome product, service, or message at their office or store. How would they let people know? Traditionally, there would be newspaper ads, magazine ads, direct mail, and if they could afford it- billboards and TV; every single method costing (often a lot of) money.
The core of this has not changed. You still need a product, service, or message, you still need a place for people to come to get them, and you still need a means to let people know that all of this is available. What has changed is that in some cases, a website can replace the need for a physical store. What has really changed is that almost all of your advertising can be done on the internet- much of it for very little or no money. This is where social media comes in.
Social media can be much more than a never-ending stream of cat videos, selfies, pictures of someone’s dinner, or the latest Darwin Awards. Social media can also be used to spread your message through a vast-potentially global audience of people -this is important- who have chosen to hear more about topics or products such as yours. This is marketing to an audience predisposed to hear and like your message. If you quickly do a mental comparison of the return on investment of a message sent out on social media to people already interested in your message, product, or service, to putting an ad in the newspaper you will begin to appreciate the value of social media. The newspaper ad might reach considerably more people, but how many of those people will either read or be interested in your ad? The same ad on social media may not reach as many people but each person it does reach has already shown interest in your business or organisation by liking or following you. (**I will speak about paid advertising on social media in a future article)
What Social Media Should I Be On?
As a minimum, here are the social media accounts that I recommend to my clients:
- Facebook: Love it, or hate it, Facebook represents an overwhelming majority of social media traffic on the internet today. Facebook is making it increasingly difficult to reach your followers without paid advertising, but just as my blogging and SEO mantra goes: if you publish quality, useful and/or entertaining content on a consistent basis, more and more people will like and link to your content. If you’re not on Facebook, you’re not really doing social media.
- Twitter: Twitter is the other social media behemoth that attracts a portion of social media traffic large enough that you really can’t ignore it. Again, quality, useful, and/or entertaining content consistently posted on Twitter will increase your reach and your audience.
- Google+: I have nothing against Google, they have some great and essential products. Google+ in my opinion, is not one of those great products. If Google had not made it essential, I’m pretty sure it would be carpooling with the Zune on its roadtrip through the land of obsolescence (what’s a Zune?- …exactly!). Google+ is confusing and unintuitive, but because Google is the undisputed master of internet search, a Google+ account is required. The upside is that if you automate your posting in WordPress, Google+ can take up very little of your time!
- YouTube: I don’t recommend YouTube to all of my clients, but if they have a smart phone and a brand or products they want to promote, YouTube is a great tool for getting that content out there in an exciting and entertaining way. There are all kinds of ways to make content for YouTube, from using a webcam or a smart phone, all the way up to professionally shot and edited video or animation. If a picture is worth 1000 words, just think how many words 25-30 pictures/second are getting across!
Instagram and Pintrest could almost be on this list, but I did promise a bare minimum. If you have a lot of imagery, or your content is very visual, I would suggest taking a look at these two as well. I will include also, a quick shout out to LinkedIn if you are a professional looking to network, or offer professional services.
Just as the Yellow Pages used to be the first place people turned to for information about businesses or organisations, most people these days turn to the internet and Google to do their search. An optimised website and regularly blogging will establish you on the internet, but social media is now the place to turn for extending your reach and communicating you message.