an opinion piece i wrote for one of my clients, but it is my opinion!
The buzz around social media can be very misleading, especially for small businesses with a limited marketing budget and no digital marketing expertise in-house to call on. As a business in this situation, it would be very unwise to invest heavily on social media unless you have your digital foundation and your digital mix in place.
This is something that is often overlooked by SMEs, particularity when it comes to the user experience offered on websites. Traffic alone shouldn’t be a key metric for your marketing, you need targeted traffic and a usable website designed to convert users to customers and useful content to keep people coming back.
No amount of social media is going to increase sales leads if your website offers a poor or complicated experience. In fact, it could create a negative effect. We all know how fast bad news spreads, far quicker than any marketing and sales messages you want to push out.
Quality, accessible content
In reality, the digital space itself has not changed. Users are still looking for quality content that either entertains, informs or helps them in their work. The only change is the devices that are now used to access content. We need to go back to basics with some of our digital communications. The key part of your strategy should always be providing users with quality content regardless of the touch point. Therefore, your website needs to be usable, easy to find and have the ability to be read on any device.
Businesses almost need to forget it is their website and hand it over to the customers. Design your site for your customers, speak their language and think about how customers found it in the first place. Then engage with your customers through digital channels with an ultimate aim of long-term advocacy and repeat sales.
Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. If you’re looking for a new job, new car or a Christmas present for your partner, where do you start? If you are like most people, you will start looking on Google, not social media. You may seek the opinions of others via social media – in fact 46% of users say they do*, but you will start with Google.
It is therefore paramount that your goal is to appear on the first page of Google. Bear in mind that position 1 gets 32% of the clicks. You can obviously use PPC to complement your strategy but SEO has to be a key part of the mix.
That’s not to say social media isn’t an important tool, if used properly and backed up with a strong digital foundation; it can be a very important tool and should form part of your digital mix. In many sectors, companies are using social media to gain new customers but that however, is usually after having had a positive website or customer experience.
While social media should be used, it should always be remembered, that as businesses we have to work hard to gain followers and work even harder to engage them.
* Source The Drum May 2013. Image Courtesy of Rosaura Ochoa