The Importance of Social Media: A Letter to My Client
R ecently, I spoke with a client regarding his website project. As are many people who are new to social media, he is frustrated, bewildered and does not see the importance and impact of it. I totally understand this, as when I was first figuring this whole “social media’ thing out, I too was frustrated and procrastinated. However, today, my business would be struggling if it were not for this medium.
So this article was my response. After writing it, I realized I had some really valuable information to share and decided to share it with all of you. I hope you find it enlightening and informative.
It was my pleasure to share the insights and I hope they were helpful! But I must not have done the job well enough, as you still have concerns about social media. While you may not get the whole social media thing, in America (and this is where your target market is) it’s crucial. Today, the lack of social media is like not having a website in the late 1990’s. There are very good reasons for it and I wanted to share those with you.
Now keep in mind, if you don’t want to do social media, I will do what you ask; it is your site. However, I want the project to be successful and not languish on the vine. I’ve seen that happen all too many times, because the client did not want to do certain things that were recommended and then wondered why it was not successful.
Unfortunately, just having a website means nothing. While it’s the most important part (it’s the hub of all your marketing efforts), like a business plan has to take many facets into consideration and connect the dots for success, the same applies here. If the dots are ignored, you might as well not bother with a website… unless all you’re looking for is a good looking online brochure no one will know about, unless you direct them their personally.
First, an example of the power of social media. Marsha Friedman of EMSI had a big company CEO contact her about public relations services. After a conversation, he asked his VP of Marketing to see who this “Marsha Friedman” was. Her response was, after doing her homework, “I don’t know who she is, but anyone who owns the first 50 pages of Google when you search for her, HAS to know what she’s doing. I would hire her.” She got the business.
While the VP never went into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+, all the content she found was from Marsha’s blog and activity in social media. In other words, even though it was NOT found in the networks, it was still social media that resulted in that contract.
The reasons for social media are several, not just to gain prospects for a possible sale. They include:
- Ranking on Google (SEO)
- Reputation Management
- Credibility and Trust
- Branding and Awareness
- Media coverage
Let’s look at these separately.
Ranking on Google (SEO)
Google has changed its algorithm, again. What they said about their update was, “… if you want any serious traffic to your website, it better have high quality content on the level of a good book or quality magazine article.” However, just having quality content means nothing. It’s just the first criterion (which I believe is your strongest suit).
You see, traffic to your website, back links, comments of quality and penetration are all looked at to decide what your ranking should be. The way they measure this (because they are not only competing with Bing, but with Facebook also) is they’ve made having a Google+ account with an authorship profile mandatory. When you create a Google+ account, you are issued a 21-digit ID. Mine is 108627678446705438603. This needs to be embedded on your website. When you create new content on your blog and post it in Google+ and other networks, Google’s bots connect the dots. It sees you have new content, where it is and what the activity derived from it is. The more you create original, new, quality content, the more Google sees you as a serious player. So when someone searches for your topic of expertise, you come up as an authority, higher in the rankings.
In this crazy eWorld, anyone can post anything about you online. Once it’s online, it’s not going away. If someone thinks your message is wrong, crazy or distasteful and posts about it, it not only hurts you with possible prospects, credibility and trust; but with Google as well.
Google does not only see HOW MANY links go to your website, but the quality of them. For example, if a porn site decides to share your info, because they agree with your message, Google will hurt your ranking. If someone writes a negative review about you, it has the same affect.
Now Google knows there will ALWAYS be some negative about everyone. However, if there is little to no positive to counteract it, the damage is done.
More importantly is the court of public opinion. If a negative pops up and you do not address it, the public assumes you’re hiding something. Well, how will you know what’s being said about you? Social Media will notify you about anything anyone says about you in the networks you belong to; allowing you the opportunity to answer any allegations and capitalize on any praise, in plain view. Moreover, Google Alerts will also notify you, but if you don’t have an account in the network with the offending post, you cannot respond.
Finally, the more content you are sharing, the fewer negative content is found. Most people will not surf past page (2) two in search results. Aggressive surfers may go as far as page (5) five. The newer content supersedes older content; hence it will push any negatives below page 5 and eventually further down, where it won’t be found.
Credibility and Trust
If someone was looking to buy your service, product or book, negative comments make you lose credibility and trust. When there’s doubt, one will err on the side of no purchase.
On the flip-side, people tend to believe what they see online – unless your packaging is substandard. It’s the old, “If it was on TV, it HAS to be true!” syndrome. So by sharing your message and content, you not only build credibility, you also get the opportunity to deliver your whole message in bite-sized pieces. This will keep you on the mind of your public, have them learn what you know, and if they agree with your perspective, to build trust and loyalty.
Branding and Awareness
If people are not aware of what you have to offer, how will they come to buy? Now, some say, “But all those people are not my public.” That is SO true! However, to think that your public is not among those masses is shortsighted.
Just because one offers a niche product, does not mean that those who would buy that product do not engage in the average pursuits as well. Remember, people use social media to be entertained, informed and helped. Social media delivers that trifecta well, in the recesses of the networks. Currently, the fastest growing demographic overall are adults ages 35 to 55, and among those, women using social media are growing faster than men.
Today, news breaks on social media; Twitter in particular. Journalists live on Twitter, looking for breaking news and trends. When they see something of interest, they scour the Twitterverse looking for any reputable bloggers who can speak to the topic of the story, so they can either:
- Quote them
- Excerpt their blog
- Use the entire article
- Or interview them
When they do, they give full credit and credentials, to include your Twitter account, blog and website address and short bio. This not only brings more credibility, awareness and trust; but also many high-quality links and visits to your website. So the benefits are not only exposure, but also better search-engine results.
Finally, each network has a different purpose. Facebook is the 800 lbs. gorilla; hence you have to be on there, because people expect it. However, in my experience, unless you offer an impulse purchase item or are in entertainment, it delivers the fewest prospects.
Google+ is for SEO purposes; which I covered pretty well previously. But keep in mind that even though it was not taken seriously in the past, it is now a full heavy-weight contender.
LinkedIn is the professional network, where business-minded people and intellectuals live. This is the network I get most prospects from and for my clients as well.
Twitter for its ability to attract media, deliver a message in bite-sized pieces and be added to multiple lists. A list in Twitter is like someone’s private group. If you post good content, people will want to share it with their people, because they are also looking for good stuff to keep their followers happy. This increases your reach. For example, I belong to 93 lists and I did nothing to do so, except share good content. You don’t ask to be added; it just happens. While my personal Twitter following is about 9,000, those 93 lists add up to an additional 21,000+ who receive my information (I counted).
So I would recommend you reconsider social media. Many people, myself included, in the beginning get frustrated and overwhelmed, because they don’t have a game plan. However, once you do, you will find it rewarding; especially with tools like HootSuite that allows you to automate a good portion of it.
I hope you found this letter to be of help to you as well. I will see you on the retweet!