The immediacy and “always-on” nature of social media can be consuming and addictive (it’s designed that way). So many social media channels, so little time – but is social networking right for you and will it grow your business?
The Medium is the Message
Large and small businesses alike are flocking to engage their customers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Is there an authenticity cap on their interactions with us humans or are corporations corporeal enough for audiences to suspend their disbelief? In the 1964 publication “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,” communication theorist Marshall McLuhan describes the “content” of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. The medium itself shapes and controls “the scale and form of human association and action”.
Do I really want to become a fan of Walgreens? As a Gen-Xer I am staunchly anti-brand, so, no. On the other hand, social media can be useful to small and local businesses who really do interact directly with their customers.
As individuals and small businesses we have much more flexibility to respond directly to client needs and adapt to trends – even to create trends. We are in an excellent position to gain a local advantage through social networking if we take the time to cultivate readers and provide them with useful tools and unique information.
The strongest “pro” of social networking, overwhelming its negative psychological aspects, is that it is a free and targeted way to market your business.
Don’t try to do it all. Choose the service that works for your communication style and meets your audience where they are.
- Facebook: Create a separate page for your business. This is great way to attract fans for your business and develop content and promotions just for them. Facebook is so user-friendly and popular even its irregular users probably login at least once per week. Boosting posts is relatively inexpensive and you can do a lot to target ads. Great if you have events. Older demographic these days.
- Twitter: Really good to network with professional in a specific field – like technology, art, news or politics.
- LinkedIn: A good way to establish a strong professional presence and connect with people with related positions and experience. Joining groups and finding questions to answer in your area of expertise all add to your credibility. Would recommend maintaining this if only to establish that you are a legit person and professional.
- Instagram: Great for artists. Pretty much have to do video content and post selfies to get traction.
- Tumblr: Making a come back! Short form image heavy micro-blog.
- YouTube: If you create video content, tutorials, or other educational services – YouTube can be a strong direction to move in. Don’t forget to caption your videos and provide a transcript.
None of the above services should replace your website as a single source of truth and ownership for your content.
More than the sum of parts.
Your website, your profiles on the above sites, blog posts, e-newsletters and print promotions (as regular as you can make them) all work together to build the business that you want to become.
People navigate the world and the WWW dynamically and selectively. It is important to stay in touch with those people, even if you feel like you don’t have anything new to say or show. If it has been awhile since you have visited your website, it’s a good bet that your web traffic has slowed as well.
Invest time in your web presence. Write a blog article or refine existing web content. Look at what comparable sites are featuring and learn to find trends in your business that you can speak to.
“You can do anything, but not everything.”
– David Allen, productivity consultant
You can’t participate in everything so choose to do a few marketing/social networking tasks regularly. An ongoing effort will grow your business and help you to create a dynamic, mutually valued/valuable relationship with your clients and readers.