Technology is amazing! Who would’ve thought just three to four years ago social media would open a door for businesses to reach consumers directly with their message, bypassing traditional media and advertising—effectively? However, social media alone is NOT the answer. If you don’t have a plan for capturing the data, it could cost you plenty should the cloud fail.
Many hear Google, Digg, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (among others) and think they could never fail. After all, they are the leaders of cutting edge innovation and technology. They think, “So if I build a following in the social sphere, I will always have that resource for my business!” While I cannot say that a disaster WILL happen, what we can say is that there’s history of lost data from major networks that have had terrible effects on business people.
When you consider that all “the cloud” means is instead of the data being hosted on your computer, it sits on someone else’s. However, it’s still a physical computer that can be infected, surged, crash from wear and tear, or have any number of other issues that plagues technology. So why would you solely trust these services with your database of followers for marketing?
On February 27, 2011, Gmail had a hiccup that made them lose less than .02% of all their user’s e-mails, contacts and data. You might think .02% is nothing; however, when you’re Google, back in 2011, less than .02% represented more than 100,000 people—many of whom were business people who lost leads and agreements that amounted to millions of dollars in lost business. While many were eventually restored, the time lost in productivity also has a huge dollar value.
On June 1, 2012, the 800 Lbs. social-network gorilla, Facebook, was hacked and went down for several hours. And today, July 3, 2012, Facebook decided to change everyone’s e-mail address from whatever the user deemed, to [their profile name and number]@facebook.com—WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE ABOUT IT! Well needless to say, many people were not getting crucial communication, because it was being sent to their Facebook inbox and not their standard accounts. How many deals were slowed or lost due to that faux pas, I wonder?
Okay, you get the point. Am I saying don’t use social media? No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is, while using social media to deliver your message and build your following, you want to capture as many of those identities as possible to build an in-house database YOU own. You do this by having a social-media friendly website and blog. Not a third-party, freebie-blog website; but a blog on your company or personal website—where you want the traffic to go.
The blog is your main driver of traffic. However, once you get them there, you want to make sure that it’s so well designed it will pull them in and make them WANT to subscribe for future articles and posts. You also want to have a “request info” conversion form (on every page), ensuring if they have a question, they don’t need to figure out how to ask it—it must be in their face to make it as simple as possible. How you capture the data is irrelevant (whether by subscription or inquiry), just make sure you get it!
While there are other dynamics that makes a website marketing effective (read What Makes a Good Website? Part 1 and Part 2 for more details) ensuring you make your website the priority of your marketing program, followed by a robust social media program, will allow you to build a strong database that will be your goldmine for future sales.