We all hear the social media marketing shtick calling to us like a flock of seagulls crowing on the pier: “Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook! Join our Circle on Google +! Feed me, feed me!”
Large corporations and small businesses alike embrace this attention-calling method. But does it really work without a clear marketing message? Is your audience benefiting from connecting with you via social media?
Marketing without a message is like trying to drive a car without fuel. It just won’t work. And without a hook to attract and maintain audience interest, any message would be useless. But social media marketing can be very effective with the right tools and the right strategy.
One of the most effective tools in any internet marketing arsenal is the blog. Blogs allow for the timely creation and publishing of unique content. And they often have social media sharing tools built-in so that readers can share with friends. So it is essential to create engaging content! After all, if your audience isn’t interested in what you have to say, why should they connect with you via social media?
They shouldn’t. You must persuade them to connect with compelling content.
Many companies believe that “likes” and “followers” mean automatic money! And they often don’t realize is that to make money off of social media, you have to know how to convert “likes” and “followers” into customers without making them feeling like they’re constantly being marketed to.
So do “likes” and “follows” alone create value in your social media and internet marketing campaign?
The answer is a resounding “no.” But you would have a hard time believing it if a recent survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is to be taken into account. It stated that “the percentage of companies that maintain blogs fell to 37% in 2011 from 50% in 2010, based on its survey of 500 fast-growing companies listed by Inc. magazine.”
In short, companies are turning to social media as a replacement – rather than a supplement – for professional blogging. Why would they eliminate a source of unique content, when it’s the driving force behind social sharing?
UMD Professor Nora Ganim Barnes believes it is because “blogging requires more investment. You need content regularly. And you need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, defamation.”
She’s right. Blogging does require significant investment. But then again– so does social media marketing and management – a point that’s overlooked by many businesses. You have to come up with content to start conversations on a social media site. So the question arises: “Is it worth it to ditch blogging when it is such a valuable resource for social media sharing?”
The fact is that blogging is an essential tool in any internet marketing arsenal. The search engine optimization (SEO) benefits alone make it a worthwhile investment, without taking social media sharing into account. But with a self-hosted blog, you own 100% of your content. The same cannot be said for content posted on the major social networks, which have been caught in privacy and content ownership debates for years.
And with the expanding social media integration with major search engines Bing and Google, your content and how it is shared could fundamentally change the way you market yourself online.
The real question is: “Why should blogging and social media marketing be mutually exclusive?”
It’s no secret: They shouldn’t and can’t be mutually exclusive if you want to succeed.
Posting to a social network isn’t just about sharing a link or throwing out a one-liner about the weather. It is about providing a more personal line of communication to your audience—a safe place to start a community conversation. And you simply can’t have a conversation without having something to talk about. It is essentially an informal version of public relations.
That being said, posting to a blog without having a social media campaign is a waste of potential. No matter how great your posts may be, without a method of distribution, you’re limiting your audience. By sharing your own content on a social network, you vastly expand your potential reach!
“Then what is the secret weapon? How can we ensure we succeed?“
If you own your content, you own your audience. I mean really getting to know your audience, what their needs and interests are, and adapting your content strategy to fit what they want.
After all, it won’t do you or your audience any good if the content aspect of your internet marketing strategy is purely based on being “easier” or “cheaper.” People can smell that, and will react accordingly. If you want to succeed, you have to own your performance and make it the best it can be.
So don’t let social networks take what’s yours. Create compelling content or have a professional writer take care of it for you, and connect with your audience.You’ll find that getting personal with your clientele really is worth the investment.
But you have to do it well, and you have to really own it.