Social media marketing is here to stay. If you are not already active in venues such as a business blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Slideshare, and YouTube, you should be asking yourself whether it’s way past time to jump in with both virtual feet.
The answer to the question is yes with an important caveat…Before making the commitment to one or many possible social media outlets, it is vital to determine whether:
- you understand the target audience that you intend to reach
- you have something valuable to communicate to that target audience
- you have someone with the time, skill, and enthusiasm to execute a consistent social media program–either inside or outside your organization
- you will make the time to listen and respond to your social media audience.
There is nothing sadder than a business blog whose most recent post was a year ago. And, there is nothing less impressive than a Facebook fan page with only a few fans and hardly any messages to or from those fans.
Yes, social media can be an extremely effective marketing tool. But, you will need to make a serious company commitment to ensure that it is effective for your organization.
Because social media is in a constant state of flux with new technologies and tools coming and going you might feel intimidated at ever trying to understand the essence of social media. But as Paul Gillen explains in his excellent book Secrets of Social Media Marketing, “there is nothing mysterious about social media. The practices that we all use to maintain meaningful relationships in our personal lives apply just as well online. It’s just that the media is different.”
In a sense, social media goes back to the earliest times, when people gathered together in the marketplace and shared information about crops, food, neighbors, the evil King, and rumors of a scary dragon lurking in the forest.
In the 21st century, we talk about the same sort of stuff, but much of it has moved online and become highly mobile thanks to the Internet, iPhones, iPads, and a host of other leading-edge devices. Just a few years ago, social media was a relatively marginal phenomenon. Today, just like the Internet, it is absolutely mainstream and therefore belongs as a core part of your marketing mix.