Where’s Social Media Headed?

So what is happening in the Social Media world right now?

Well, first of all, social media website use has exploded with millions of people using popular Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and dozens of others. I personally “play” and “work” on many, but my favorites remain Twitter and Facebook.

social-media-marketingCelebrities and politicians seem to have found a way to pontificate one-way to their audiences. I say pontificate because most of these are rarely engaged in a two-way discussion, more times sending out their updates but not really engaging with others who may wish to interact with them. Politicians and celebrities across the globe have taken their messages to their fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook.

However, millions of users and dozens of so-called SMM experts later, small businesses remain offline and are positively scared of using social media websites.

The business owners I interact with when I’m speaking at an event or when I’m networking offline (yes I still do that) are concerned about using social media websites to promote themselves. They are worried about the lack of privacy and a misconception that they need to be technically savvy to use such websites as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. These same business owners also mention lack of time and lack of trained “marketing” resources which prevent them from taking the social media marketing plunge.

For marketers, social media marketing means a huge opportuníty. The opportuníty comes from being able to demonstrate actual results to end clients in the form of visibility and generated buzz. For small businesses who have taken the social media marketing plunge, it means visibility at low cost. For everybody, Social Media Marketing means; buzz, visibility, website traffic and leads, assuming SMM is executed properly.

Social media marketing is here to stay and can bring tremendous value to those who know how to leverage it. From gaining new clients, to gaining visibility, branding, and credibility, not to mention leads, social media marketing is one activity that everybody needs to “find” time for and “create” a budget for.

As an individual seeking a new job or as a business seeking new clients, here are some very basic yet very key strategies to keep in mind when embarking on the social media marketing journey:

1. Reap what you sow: This saying applies very well to Social Media Marketing. If you don’t begin leveraging social media websites to promote yourself or your business and especially if your competition is, you’ll be left behind in the dust of their visibility & buzz.

2. Make Time: Either make time for social media marketing for yourself / business OR find an expert who can do it for you. Not doing anything is not an option. Find a marketer who knows social networking.

3. Land your next opportunity: Remember the impression you want to cultivate online. You wouldn’t go to a face-to-face networking meeting and complain “how tired you are”, “how sleepy you are” etc. Then don’t do it online either. Online networking has reached a new level and you need to show your “networking” savvy by creating an impression which will land you the next connection, a new client or whatever you seek.

4. Don’t end up in jail or unemployed: If you don’t want to end up fired or end up in jail, be careful about what you say online. Professional behavior should be the norm (even for teenagers who don’t realize the impact of what they put out there on Facebook). Prospective employers, prospective clients, current clients, and anyone who wants to look you up, can and will. Once you’ve put something out there, it is out there forever.

opportunity-tracking5. Frequency matters just as much as content: Blogging once a month or writing a tweet once every week or posting a FB status once every other day is not the way to grow your visibility. All marketing activities require frequency, consistency, and long-term effort. You wouldn’t expect one advertisement in the Detroit Free Press to generate leads immediately or ongoing. Similarly, marketing online requires consistent, frequent, and long-term effort.

Again, remember, not doing anything is not an option.

Just like email and voicemail, yes, those now archaic technologies that we don’t even think about; texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging, and audio & video podcasting are all slowly becoming mainstream. Social media marketing is also fun, quick, and a cost-effective way to get visibility and it provides the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world.

Implement Social Media Marketing correctly and you’ll find that practice does make us perfect!

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There Is NO Social Media Shortcut. Admit It Already!!

NO-Social-Media-Shortcut

This post isn’t meant to be an attack on Seth Godin or his online effort “Brands in Public”. After all, many are already attacking him for his decision to launch a site which basically aggregates social chatter about a brand into a public facing site, which they then have to pay $400 a month to customize. Some have called it a game changer, while others have declared it outright brandjacking.

The problem I have with “Brands in Public” is that it feeds into a myth… a myth perpetuated by frustrated marketers that just don’t want to admit that in the current digital landscape, we have our work cut out for us… it’s the myth of the social media shortcut.

So, why is Seth’s effort both ineffective and against best practices:

1. Aggregation isn’t conversation. Pulling a bunch of feeds together does not create a story about the brand, or open the doors for a new kind of communication.

2. Fishing where the fish aren’t. Seth suggests that brands add to the “conversation” in a platform where no one is currently listening.

3. It goes against integration. If any site should be pulling in twitter feeds and YouTube links, it should be the brand’s website. Wouldn’t it be a much more of a game changer to see brands putting their twitter feed under the “customer service” section of their website?

Marketers want so badly for a $400 month solution that just brings everything together into one place. They want there to be only one channel they need to respond in, rather than several dozen. But there is no easy out, you have to roll up your sleeves and prepare to spend hours and dollars to do social media right.

Maybe that’s why 84% of marketers don’t measure ROI. They are still looking for the easy solution, and don’t want to admit that it doesn’t exist.

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