Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shamelessness Part 2: Why Social Media Marketing Matters & Who Should Use It

There's been a ton of talk lately about how people can use social media to grow their business. Thanks to the web you don't have to have an expensive marketing budget, you just need to create a few accounts to services like Facebook and Twitter. Last week I wrote part one about social media,  a success story about my client Kevin O'Malley. Next week I'll reveal more details on how to do this stuff yourself. Now I want to explain WHY you should care about social media marketing and explain WHO really needs to use it...

How social media marketing works

Yesterday on my favorite NPR show, the MidDay show, they had an expert speak about Social Media and Viral Marketing. Jonah Berger did a great job at explaining the "viral effect" and demonstrated that social media does indeed work.  But Jonah forgot to explain HOW to USE social media which I will reveal in part 3!

Here's how it works - Right now millions upon millions of people are doing this... joking, criticizing, reviewing, recommending, and sharing something with each other in conversation.  The internet itself is structured around writing, and the most successful websites, even YouTube, are designed to perpetually foster active chat style conversations. So internet marketing works because it exploits a very popular and natural human activity - talking to each other.

WHY you should care about social media

The question I get asked from people the most is "Why should I care? What's the point of this, for me?" The answer is different for different people (see the WHO section below).  If you're running a business, you need to manage your reputation on the internet. Why? Aside from being a great tool for growing your business, if you don't manage your online reputation then other people, and internet forces completely out of your control can and will hijack your online reputation if you don't take control of it yourself.

Imagine this time 1,000,000 and then imagine your business being mentioned in these chats.  

So let's use an example of restaurants. Restaurants really need social media marketing because complaints and bad reviews online could literally shut them down. Conversely, praise and good reviews will help them grow. Aside from that, people can make reservations and write reviews all from their smart phones with almost no effort. So customers expectations for restaurants - on the web -  are already very high. Admit it, you read the reviews too so you know they work. They also help businesses communicate with their customers and be better.

There are at least 7 major websites (or apps) that let people criticize restaurants:
  1. Yelp
  2. Google 
  3. OpenTable
  4. Zagat
  5. Foursquare
  6. Facebook
  7. Foodspotting ... does anybody use this site?
  8. Plus a LOT of local websites like your local newspaper

WHO should care?

Although internet and social media marketing is easy - it's still work.  If you want to grow your business you should use social media because it is the cheapest and most effective way to promote anything, period. But (I am going to dispel one myth that traditional marketing people won't mention) most people don't need to use social media.  So figure out if you need it before investing your time.

Who needs social media?
Any business should care about social media marketing but some businesses benefit more than others.
  • Writers, Authors and Bloggers make the best use of social media to grow their audience on a budget. 
  • So should Artists and Designers for the same reason as writers. 
  • Any new business that needs to grow quickly should use social media to get the word out. 
  • Restaurants, Hair Salons, and Shops because they interact with the public.
  • Job seekers, for competitive reasons, can benefit from social media. My friend got a job with the National Parks Service because she ran a blog... about her baby girl.
  • People like me who do internet development and marketing need to. 
  • Anybody in a public leadership position, like a professor or head doctor because they have important information to share and they are in a position of authority. 
  • Tiny local businesses like a neighborhood landscaper would also benefit from a very small and free web presence and a little social media.

Who does NOT need to waste their time with social media?
  • Individuals in general don't need social media marketing. 
  • Doctors don't need to market themselves.  
  • Therapists or any profession where privacy is essential should stay away from social media. 
  • Lawyers mostly don't need social media although they can be interesting. 
  • Isolated successful businesses like my neighborhood bar which is already popular. They don't do happy hours and they never have specials. They do not need social media or any marketing whatsoever. 
Fun fact: Did you know that more "data" has been created in the past decade, than has been created in the entire previous history of the Earth? That's a lot of joking, complaining, reviewing, and conversing online! What does this have to do with you and your "online reputation"? Everything, it's all about you... and me... and us. So TAKE CONTROL of the the web and make it work FOR you.

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