Social Media: There’s no Magic Involved (Just Hard Work)
June 7th 2016 | By Sarah McInerney
It seems to be the case that business owners believe they should ‘have a social presence’. But the reasons behind this belief appear sketchy. ‘Everyone is on Twitter’. ‘All businesses have a Facebook page’. ‘My friend says I need to be on Instagram’. But these really aren’t good enough reasons to be setting up such platforms.
Why You Shouldn’t be Doing Social Media, ‘Just Because’
Social media is a form of marketing. You don’t usually proceed with any form of marketing ‘just because’. Without a strategy, it’s more often than not going to be a waste of time and money, because you won’t have an objective or a measuring process in place.
Some businesses think that by setting up social platforms, they will all of a sudden, as if by magic, attain a host of followers which will, again as if by magic, turn into new customers overnight.
The fact is, social platforms don’t come with built in miracles: they require lots of hard work. You can’t force people to like you: you have to engage with them and make it a natural process. And another fact: not all of them work for certain types of business.
Everyone Loves Social Media – Right or Wrong?
Social platforms nowadays are certainly not limited to Twitter and Facebook: their numbers are growing, and each of them has its individual type of audience. Just ask around and you will find some people have one or two platforms they engage with regularly, and they probably don’t touch the others. Then again some might not embrace social media at all. We all have our own preferences, and some of the platforms are more geared towards certain age groups, and other demographics will also apply.
It may be that the service you offer is simply something that people do not feel comfortable discussing in front of a public audience.
It is important to remember that not every marketing channel is going to work for every type of business, and this rule definitely applies to social channels. You may have tried advertising in directories or leafleting through doors and found it didn’t work, but that articles in the local community newsletter brought you plenty of new business. It’s the same with social media: you may try Twitter and find it falls flat, but LinkedIn is great for bringing in new leads. Facebook might be a waste of time, but Google+, Snapchat or YouTube may get everyone talking about your brand.
Research is the Place to Start – and Hard Work Comes Next
Success in marketing is all about audience targeting, and the place to start is with research. Are your competitors or industry experts commanding a presence on certain platforms? If so, you may do well in joining them. If not, there is probably a good reason for it.
Social media is also about hard work: don’t be under any illusion that it will be anything otherwise. Random posts every couple of weeks or so that are not addressing the needs of your audience and that don’t have clear messages about how you can deal with the issues your potential customers face are never going to cut it. The thing is, just like you need to know what you are doing in the rest of your business, so you need to know what you are doing with social media. You wouldn’t allow the delivery driver to take care of the bookkeeping, or vice versa. And so you shouldn’t have someone taking care of social media marketing if they don’t have any experience in it.
It’s probably why so many businesses set up these platforms, give it a few weeks and then, realising that graft and expertise is required, leave them to perish. The trouble is, if you have links going out from your website to social platforms, then it is likely that visitors will follow them. But when they see that the last post was two years ago, imagine what they will think.
All marketing initiatives need goals, and need to be targeted. Plus they need processes in place so they can be measured, and to be managed by people who know what they are doing. This is no different with social media.
Before embarking on a social media campaign, set out your objectives and define your audiences. Work out the best platforms to use. Decide what you are aiming for: whether it’s to get new customers, raise awareness of your brand, engage with your audience or boost your profile as an expert in your industry. Once you know what you want to achieve, work out how you will measure success.
Remember: social media isn’t necessarily the right type of marketing for every type of business. Don’t think you have to do it ‘just because’.
If you could benefit from some help in planning a social media strategy, get in touch.