Here we go, yet another pundit telling you how social media has changed the world, how everything will be different, how traditional media is dead, etc. I admit it, I believe some of that stuff. And yes, I plan to discuss certain aspects of it; however, it’s not going to be my primary focus. Instead, I want to share with you how I use social media as a business tool, how you can use it to generate attention for your business and/or brand, how it can help you spend less money on advertising, and, most importantly, how you can use social media to create attention. But first, we must get something straight.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons to be learned regarding online success is that while the Web was at first a place for people to hang out and socialize, it’s not that way anymore. You can still do those things, but if you’re coming to the Web from a business standpoint, you must think differently.
Success on the Web means that you need to use Web tools as business tools. Initially, social media sites were not designed to “do business,” but smart marketers and businesses now realize that they can absolutely be used as such. Too many people deride the possibility that social media can be used in this way to their detriment. Stop viewing sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin as time wasters, and instead as valuable and free tools that can help you build your brand, share your messages and help you generate sales, leads and publicity in a HUGE way. There’s a switch that must be flipped in most people’s heads that finally convinces them that social media opportunities can change their success-to-fail ratios. So, snap out of it! Once you do, you’ll be on your way to meeting your goals faster and cheaper than ever before.
One of the reasons it’s difficult to begin using social media is because the old way was so much easier. In the past, if you wanted to grab the attention of potential customers, you simply wrote a check to your local newspaper or radio station for some ads. Then, people would read or hear your message and come running into your establishment with open wallets. Or, you’d drop thousands of dollars on a TV spot because that’s where the eyeballs are. Makes sense, I know, and you shouldn’t stop using those methods completely if they’re working for you. But know there are other ways to get it done, with social media being at the top of the list.
You know why you liked marketing the traditional way—it was easy and it just worked. You wrote the check and customers came running. But that model is changing, or, shall we say, moving. Social media is a much harder game for sure, but the benefits outweigh the work involved if done correctly. Imagine being able to build your brand without having to pay a PR firm hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees. Now you can do it yourself—faster and cheaper!
If you decide not to utilize social media, don’t be surprised when your competitor begins connecting with customers and spends far less than you on marketing. Instead of spending a significant portion of his or her budget on marketing, your competitor spends all of that money on product development, which means you’re toast.
Did you realize Pepsi decided to forgo spending money on a Super Bowl ad in 2010 and instead spend that $20 million on a social media campaign? That’s a clear sign that the landscape is changing.
Fact: Everyone has a lot more time than money. Your business is not always going to have a significant marketing budget. At some point, the budget is going to get cut and what you’ll be left with is your time.
I know what you’re saying: “I’m busy enough already, how am I going to spend any more time on social media?” So, let me ask you this question: Would you rather spend $100,000 on a traditional media campaign out of your budget or take that $100,000 and invest it back into your company and spend a few more hours per week working to get the word out through the Web?
It’s your choice, but you already know the answer.