Social Media Marketing…Five Years Later
May 17, 2017 by Andrew Symes
In May, 2012, we blogged about whether small- and mid-sized companies should engage in social media. The medium was still new and clients were mainly asking “What is it?” and, “Should we?”
While many of our thoughts from 2012 are still relevant today, the business value of social media has become more clear with time, and there are fewer doubts about its staying power. Today, it’s safe to say the following:
- Social media is not “just” a trend. Five years ago, no one could say with absolute certainty whether social media was a core marketing activity or merely a fad. It’s now evident that companies of all sizes have found valuable ways to integrate social media into their marketing efforts.
- There’s more than one audience. In the past, many B2B companies objected to social media because they did not have evidence that their customers or prospects were using social media platforms. Today, however, many companies are using social media to reach out to specific stakeholders – regardless of whether they are direct customers or not. For example, a company may sell exclusively through distribution channels, but still have a need to reach customers and end-users directly to build or extend relationships with them. Others use social media to demonstrate a corporate identity or culture in order to attract new employees and create a positive image for prospective partners, stakeholders, or customers.
Moreover, since 2012, it’s become even more evident that social media can:
- Expand brand awareness. An effective social media strategy reaches well beyond your immediate communities as its members share and recommend information to their personal networks. (Remember that old shampoo commercial, “…she told two friends, and she told two friends…”?) With the click of a button, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram users can share or endorse your information with their networks and expose your brand to an additional set of contacts.
- Build communities of interest. Part of your business and marketing plan may call for becoming a recognized thought leader, or an industry hub for a certain kind of community of conversation. Social media will play a key role in building such communities of interest.
- Improve search engine optimization. Given the right strategy and execution, social media marketing is an effective element of search engine optimization, improving page rank and online reputation. Poorly implemented, though, it can have the opposite result by drawing attention away from your primary online properties, diluting your website optimization, or harming your online reputation.
How Should Social Media Fit Into Your Mix?
Today, the question is less about whether your organization should use social media, but how it should use it. Are you looking to build awareness of your brand by getting it in front of as many potential customers as possible, or is your goal to demonstrate thought leadership to a specific audience? Do you want to generate additional web traffic of any kind, or do you want to attract only a particular community? Should you use Facebook and Instagram or should you choose Twitter and LinkedIn?
Random acts of social media will get you no further than any other ad hoc marketing activity will.
No matter how you decide to use social media, one piece of advice we gave five years ago still applies: as with any other communication vehicle that you choose to invest in (nope, social media is not “free”), social media is not a silver bullet, and random acts of social media will get you no further than any other ad hoc marketing activity will. Figuring out if the investment in social media marketing is worthwhile for your business is not unlike determining whether you should invest in print advertising, a new website, or any other communication platform.
If you have questions about how social media can fit into your business’ marketing and communications strategy, please contact us!