As the new intern at Ashworth Creative I have been given the task of handling all things social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and this blog. Part of my daily routine consists of keeping up to date with all of our favorite bloggers. As I was reading through the hundreds of new posts this week, I came across an interesting trend: a battle over the life of social media.
According to the blog Duct Tape Marketing, social media doesn’t matter anymore. The blog is based off the Duct Tape Marketing book by John Jantsch, which claims to give simple, effective and affordable small business marketing tactics. John claims that small businesses are lacking in the adaptation of social media, agencies are over-adapting to social media, and in reality it’s all irrelevant. He goes on to say that the reason why social media doesn’t deserve the hype is because it doesn’t exist beyond a label. Social media was mislabeled, and really it is part of the new way of marketing; listening to and involving consumers. Social media tools, plans, agencies, departments, and experts are drawing focus away from marketing strategies and tactics. Instead of wasting resources on the hyped-up social media trend, marketers should be focusing on engaging prospects, customer experiences, collaboration with communities, and fusion between offline and online activity.
So right about now I feel pretty useless, but as I continue reading through the blogs the life of social media (and my job!) starts looking up.
I came across a post from Brian Solis in honor of National Small Business Week. Brian claims that social media in small business in anything but small. He discusses how social media is helping small, local, and emerging businesses increase visibility and value. People and businesses are connecting, consumers are participating, and customer-bases are unifying all from opportunities created by social media. Results from a study published by the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and Network Solutions shows interesting statistics about social media adoption among U.S small businesses. According to the study, the rate of small businesses adopting social media has increased from 12% to 24% over the last year. More interesting statistics from the study: 61% of small business owners use social media to identify and attract new customers, 75% of those surveyed have a company page on a social networking site, and 45% expect to see profits from social media integration over the next 12 months.
Now I’m beginning to feel better about my love for social media (and the importance of my job!). I disagree with John; I think social media does still matter, and can be used to reach and start the conversation with your consumers. However, it is important to note that social media alone can’t be your only marketing strategy. Social media can be utilized as a supplement to other strategies such as search engine marketing, optimization, traditional advertising, public relations, and other marketing tactics. Brian found fascinating statistics about the use of social media in small businesses, and made an interesting point: social media help businesses and people connect. If your business doesn’t have an online presence, you might as well not exist. This online presence doesn’t just include social media, but a website, searchability, general contact information, and perhaps even some multimedia. The Internet is the first (and probably only) place consumers go for information.
Even Facebook is becoming a search engine, and not only for people but businesses too. According to Eli Goodman, a blogger for SearchEngineWatch.com, Facebook hosts 600 million U.S. searches per month! Currently the majority of searches on Facebook are for people, but Facebook can further develop their search technology so that when an individual searches “cars,” a list of their friends’ “liked” related pages such as BMW or Toyota appear. This type of social search doesn’t exist yet, but as consumer behavior changes we may see Facebook redefine search and become a key search market player.
All of this social media buzz may seem overwhelming to you, but have no fear Ashworth is here to help! I came across a blog post by Michele Linn from MarketingProfs Daily Fix . She gives some great tips to remember when you consider starting a social marketing plan:
(1) Start small. Don’t jump into every social media vehicle at once, you will be overwhelmed. Try setting small goals: check out other blogs first, try writing possible blog topics, observe how others are using Facebook and Twitter, do some research on your target market to see where they are interacting.
(2) Realize opportunity cost. Starting a social media campaign is time consuming, and sometimes hard work! You will have to spend hours researching, developing, and maintaining your presence.
(3) Get others to help you. Have a group of people at your business help maintain your online identity. Or hire outside marketing agencies (like us!) to design and develop a strategic online marketing plan. Once established, think about hiring someone internally to keep your online presence going and up-to-date.
(4) Commit. Once you have your website, social profiles, and online existence, you must keep it going. Engage and interact with your consumers, keep information current, and grow your customer base.
Want some more tips? I found a post on Mashable.com that describes 6 tips for effective recruiting on social media sites. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, we are always posting useful and interesting information. What do you think about the importance of social media? Should marketers stop using these vehicles all together? Do you think social media is effective? What do you think could make social media more effective? Any comments, suggestions, questions? Let us know what you think, we love hearing from our fans! Until next time, keep tweeting, liking, and posting, it’s good for you