Understanding The Risks & Limitations of Social Media

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Understanding The Risks & Limitations of Social Media

Social media can be a wonderful way to spread the word about your business, products and services. It is certainly recommended to use the relevant social media platforms that will most suit your target market: Pinterest for stay at home mums, Twitter for short burst messages, and so forth. Social media marketing can be great for communication and information sharing. With that said, it is important to understand what you’re getting into the bargain.

Facebook Switch-A-Roo
In the last couple of years, business owners and marketers took to Facebook eager to develop as many followers as possible. Their thinking went that if they could develop tens of thousands of Facebook followers on their Facebook page, then they’d be able to tap into that group consciousness whenever they wanted to implant a new thought about their latest product release.

These same people often bought Facebook ads to entice users of this platform to their Facebook page and to get more Facebook “Likes”. Then Facebook turned the tables on them, restricting access to subscribers and what messages they could send to them. Charges started to be levied for mass contact via big brands.

Warning Shot Across The Bow
Before this incident, business owners and marketers tended to think of their member pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms as part of, or an extension of, their own web site. Build a following, market to that following or update regularly with relevant new goings on in their business.

Then those involved started to realise that they didn’t “own” their pages on these social media platforms. They merely rented them. In fact, companies like Facebook were free to delete their page and their profile if they saw fit. This didn’t really occur to many people who invest a lot of time and money. For those who it did, they quickly waived it away as a trivial concern that will never happen.

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What Brand Ownership Means Online
Marketing using social media is a completely valid way to promote a brand and the product and services offered by the company behind the brand. Users of social media platforms will often hug them close and not want to change. This phenomenon has happened with email where users sometimes tell their friends to private message them through Facebook as they don’t use email any more.

The old marketing rule to “go to where your audience is” is completely valid here. If your audience is congregating in key areas of social media platforms, then you should be there too. You should have a presence there. This presence should be updated with relevant links to quality content from peers and yourself. Don’t be sparing with the “link love” because potential customers appreciate a good referral. Just don’t slip back into the notion that you own or in any way control the profile or page on the social site because you do not.

Social Media As A Marketing Tool
Social media is an exceptional soft approach marketing tool where useful information can be shared in a non-confrontational manner. Increasingly, the latest socially shared information is pulled in via mobile devices throughout the day. Be part of that information stream in your niche. Have a voice. Get noticed. Because if you don’t do that, you can be damn sure that your competitors are.

Does Blogging Still Make Sense?
Blogging still makes sense because it can help to humanise the people in your business. In a world of online anonymity and automated telephone answering “dial 1 for this, 2 for that…”, we often are lacking human contact.

Blog posts help to show the current (and past) thinking of the principals in the business and also any guest posts from influential industry contacts. Subjects that cannot easily be broached on an individual customer basis over the phone or by email can be far more easily touched upon using effective content creation in a new post. Images, slide-shows, video clips and other multimedia may be added to help explain ideas and concepts in a clearer way too.

For e-commerce sites and other online web sites that do not change much, it can appear that a web site is stagnant and no one is home. This can create issues for these types of web sites. How to show that the business is still alive from an online perspective? A list of recent relevant blog posts can do that very effectively.

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How To Think About Your Web Site Presence
It is a good idea to think about your online presence for your business as being your web site at the centre with different marketing channels surrounding it. Each marketing channel should be there to help promote the brand and its products and services.

A Facebook page should appeal to Facebook users, share useful information in a shorter form than your web site would, but set-up with the intention to funnel visitors eventually to your web site.

Equally, a Pinterest page and various pin boards for it should provide a source of fresh traffic for your web site where the image teases and the link to a page on your site provides more detailed information.

A blog can also act as another marketing channel and visitors may then follow through to the more commercial areas of your web presence.

And so on…

In each case, site visitors opt-in to a newsletter where you can update & promote or visitors make online purchases through your web site. Without getting visitors through from the social platforms to your online home, your web site, you have no real control over the interaction or an easy way to contact them in the future.

Avoiding Overly-Concentrated Marketing Plans
With this type of thinking and approach, it avoids business owners becoming confused about what platforms and pages that they have control over. With their own web site they control the message, the way it is presented, what products/services are sold, how they’re sold and for how much. With social media platforms, they can decide to make unilateral changes and your marketing plan is in tatters. This is why a multichannel marketing approach is needed to remove the dependence on any single social platform causing trouble for your business.

An email subscriber you can contact. A buyer you can contact. Someone who subscribed to your social channel or liked a post, you may not be able to.

Separate Landing Pages For Different Social Visitors
Depending on your business and the products and services offered, you may want to think about having separate landing pages for each of the social media platforms. Why? The reason for this is because visitors from different platforms usually are looking for different things. By having separate landing pages, you can smart development to increase your conversion rates for given actions.

If you learn through time that visitors from Facebook don’t ever buy anything right away but are not adverse to opting in to your weekly newsletter, then a landing page that uses web design to squarely focus on that action goal is likely to boost opt-in rates.

For Pinterest-based visitors who are usually very visual and quite often women, a page can be adjusted to use softer colours, different fonts, with more graphical content rather than statistical product information.

Understanding what social media can do and cannot do for your business is key to making the most of the possibilities.

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