In today’s cyber-connected world, where someone taking an Instagram™ picture creates content that is consumed by anyone who is connected with them—instantly on their smartphone—many have made the mistake of believing they can and should manage their business in social media. What makes this an even more widespread occurrence, is the fear of having to create a website. If you are one of those thinking this, beware! To do so is to relinquish control of your business to the ever-fickle social media companies, who DO NOT have your best interest in mind; but rather, their bottom line. Don’t let the fear of creating and managing your own website relinquish control of your business.
Marcus Sheridan, President of The Sales Lion, said, “In today’s information age of marketing and Web 2.0, a company’s website is the key to their entire business.” Now why is that? After all, with the smartphone in the pocket of the majority of Americans and the world, you have a readymade, instant mobile-content delivery system, why would you bother with anything else? Right? Wrong!
Now, I’m not advocating you not use social media. While using this readymade system is smart business, HOW you use it determines your business acumen. Human nature is to flow towards what is easiest and fastest to get up and running; not necessarily what would be most equitable. You see, in social media you own nothing; they own you. You are an asset that allows them to raise the price of their ads and to have content to repurpose as they see fit—within reason of course. If they see their bottom line is not as robust as they would like, they change the rules to ensure your reach is limited and your content doesn’t compete with them.
Recently, Facebook has done this very thing and it has affected many a business (read Facebook arrives where it wanted to be all along: Pay for Advertising). If a company had a campaign which cost them nothing—other than man-hours in content creation and dissemination—that was very productive; it was pretty much shutdown with a maximum 2% reach with Facebooks latest change, in order to force them to pay for advertising.
You have no control, you own no database and you’re gambling against the clock when the next change will come, with no certainty as to what it will bring. How do you run a business like this? How can you plan? How do you control the user experience for maximum effectiveness? How do you build an asset you own that allows you to project future sales? You don’t.
Have you ever realized that no matter where one finds information about anything (social media, newspaper or magazine, radio show or commercial, TV, direct mail, etc.) EVERYONE eventually lands on the company’s website? Why? Everyone does their homework before making a buying decision. They want to see:
If there’s no website (or worse, a bad one), they will move on and your bounce rate will tell the tale (read What does Your Bounce Rate say about Your Website?). After all, there are plenty of choices and you’re nothing but noise—until you prove otherwise.
Therefore, on your website is where you make sure:]
And all three have a specific and different purpose, but the same ultimate goal—sales. So let’s take a look at each.
Steve Jobs was a master at marketing and he was absolutely correct when he said it was all about the user experience. With rare exceptions, and you can’t run your business on the one-percent, people are looking for an enjoyable way to consume content. Since the three reasons people use social media are to be entertained, informed and helped, and since almost everyone is engaging in content marketing; how do you break through the noise? You see, there’s so much vying for the attention of the consumer that your user experience has to be better than not just your competition, it must beat everyone else!
If someone comes to your website and it’s bland, chances are they are going to just click away. So by ensuring that it’s appealing, the colors and images are well chosen and applied, the spacing makes it friendly on the eyes and the content is spoon fed by hiding it in plain view; you will make it a more enjoyable experience. These things can’t be managed on social media when you are fitting your brand into a template.
This almost sounds nefarious; but it’s not. First, it’s the basics of marketing to build a database and know who you’re talking with. However, in the modern paradigm shift, this is not done with underhanded tactics; it’s done by exchanging value for value.
The value you offer is the great information that will entertain, inform and/or help. Moreover, the user experience they enjoy while consuming all your helpful content. The value they bring to the table is their email address. Since no one buys on the first go around, you must maintain the conversation, so when they are ready to buy (or know someone who is) you have a chance to compete. You do this with your blog. Now the quality of the blog will dictate whether you do this effectively and what you write about. Remember, it’s never about you; it’s ALWAYS about them (read You Know You Need to Blog, but You Don’t Know How).
The most important part of your website is your message. It is what will deliver the credibility, gain the trust and persuade and educate your public. This is where you need to pay the most attention and not settle for just putting stuff up for information’s sake. It needs to be well written, to persuade and not sell; after all, no one likes to be sold.
Your articles have to be of the caliber you would submit to a magazine. Do not settle for fluff, because it’s your blog and website. If writing sales copy from a persuasive standpoint is not your strong suit, you need to find someone who can do it for you (read Are You Selling or Persuading).
Facebook recently decided to change how you would use a headline. If you write a creative headline to capture the attention of the public, and they deem it to be “click bait,” they will block it. Now any marketer, blogger and/or journalist worth his or her salt will write the best headline possible. As David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy and Mather advertising agency, once said, “If I have nine days to work on an ad, I use eight days on the headline, one day on the ad.” Why? If the headline is not worthy, the ad or article will not be read! But in Facebook’s world, if your article works to pull readers to your website, you’re getting the traffic you seek; hence why would you buy advertising from them? Therefore, they have to do something about it. On your website this is not an issue.
So while social media is a valuable and viable venue for marketing, remember that you are using someone else’s business model, with their permission. Therefore, you are at their mercy and it’s not always benevolent. Take control and never relinquish that kind of power over your business, by ensuring you have a well-thought out website designed for maximum effectiveness.