Numbers show that blogs are being created at an ever increasingly fast rate, Twitter has reached a new high in tweets, and more and more users are hopping on the bandwagon. Does that mean you should hop on as well? Not necessarily.
Every company will differ in terms of their needs and objectives, and as such, each company must evaluate the importance of social media, the outcomes, and the overall benefit of using the tools available online in relation to their company and situation. As I’ve mentioned before, something that worked for one company (or even your own company previously) most likely will not work this time around. Even if you were successful with your last PR plan/campaign, you must start over when looking to launch a new campaign. That means that you must begin at step one (doing your research) in order to create a valuable and high-quality plan.
Once you’ve done your homework and found the social media tools that will be beneficial for your company to use, it is time to implement them. Create your profiles, upload your information, and if you’ve chosen a blog to implement, begin writing and researching what readers are reading online. You can do this by analyzing Google Analytics of other sites you have up and running, using Google’s keyword tool, or simply perusing other blogs for their most popular content.
Thousands of blogs are created only to be forgotten, ignored, and in the end, abandoned. Many companies or individuals who created those blogs became discouraged when results were not instantaneous and found other things to devote their time to. Half of the problem may have been that they simply created the blog and waited for people to stumble upon it to market it for them. Unfortunately, that’s not how blogs work. Even creating a Twitter account or Facebook group requires you telling people where to find you on those sites. Some of your customers or competitors may find you when searching for you online, but for a majority of your social networking efforts, your existence on these sites will go unnoticed unless you share with others that you are present there.
That leads to the title of this post: Your Social Media Efforts Will Not Sell Themselves. Much of what you do must be hand-fed to customers and buyers; many of your buyers simply don’t have the time or desire to seek you out. So make it easy for them to find you by linking all of your accounts together. List your profiles on the others and link to them on your blog. If you have a company website, link to your blog and profiles there as well to start making connections. Be proactive and connect with other bloggers, people on Twitter and Facebook, and engage your customers/buyers.
Getting your accounts recognized and your blog popular takes time and effort, but it starts with you and your efforts, the content you create, and the value you offer and provide to readers and buyers. Every once in a while comes a product that creates its own buzz and generates massive amounts of WOM (word of mouth), requiring little work from the company itself to generate PR around the product, For the most part, companies and products need a little push to get on the map, so to speak. Once you’ve made it easy for buyers to find your company or product, the WOM will generally start from there. Remember to be persistent and consistent in whatever venture you take on.
The Value of Social Media
There seems to be a very conflicting consensus as to whether or not social media is useful, worth the investment, or if it even produces results. As an employee of a small business, I see how social media affects our business and how we benefit from it; this blog alone helps to bring traffic to our other business ventures, and my Twitter accounts help to bring traffic to the blog. It is a fairly small investment of my time to keep an eye on my Twitter accounts (though, admittedly, I spend more time on some accounts than others), but to increase my blog traffic, which it does, I have a relatively low amount of effort I need to exert. I know too, though, that my traffic would probably be higher if I did invest more of my time there.
However successful these tools are for me and for the other blogs and websites that our company runs, I know that it doesn’t work for everyone. Furthermore, I know that it does work for some. Unlike some statements I read in a Wall Street Journal post, I know that social media is effective and worth the investment, even if just for increased traffic. From the WSJ’s post titled “Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media”,
“The hype right now exceeds the reality,” says Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.
Also from that WSJ post were some findings from a survey:
Meanwhile, a separate survey of 500 U.S. small-business owners from the same sponsors found that just 22% made a profit last year from promoting their firms on social media, while 53% said they broke even. What’s more, 19% said they actually lost money due to their social-media initiatives.
An interesting question arose when I was reading this: How much effort was put into these “social-media initiatives”? As with any initiative in business, you cannot expect success or positive results from something you do not fully participate in. Were these social media initiative things they began but soon abandoned? Did they expect their initiatives to do all the work on their own? Like I mentioned, social media is not for every company, nor will it be successful for your company if you do not do the necessary steps to ensure that success. Your social media success is directly correlated to the amount of promotion you use, your efforts, and the time you invest in them. You can definitely lose money on your social media initiatives if you spend the money to invest in social media and fail to correctly maintain it.
WSJ’s post also wrote:
A business owner’s time and energy spent on social-media marketing—Folbot’s Mr. AvRutick says he dedicates about an hour a day—could also go to waste. Fifty percent of the latter survey’s respondents say it requires more effort than expected.
Throughout the life of this blog (and others who have blogged on the topic of social media), I’ve been pretty honest and straight-forward about the amount of effort it requires, as are others who have been successful using these tools, as well as businesses who know the reality of marketing and public relations. (There are rarely ventures in marketing and PR that take little effort; social media is not an exception.)
Social media wasn’t meant to be a magical answer to our marketing and PR problems; rather, it was to increase our communication with our buyers and target audience. Social media allows you to put the public back into “Public Relations” since it encourages so much collaboration and communication between the public and your company.
Creating a blog or spending your time tweeting and not helping people find it is like creating an advertisement you never air on television or send to print; what is the point of doing it? Social media takes patience and a time commitment.
What’s your take? You’re here reading this blog post, perhaps referenced from someone’s tweet linking here. How important is social media? Do you think it is useless or dependent on the company’s efforts?