I was recently asked to contribute an article to a local business publication. One of the suggestions was an article on the utilization of social networking as part of the marketing mix for small businesses. My first reaction was, “not my thing.”
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly use social networking sites (specifically Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) within my overall marketing mix. I think that these types of sites have a place and a certain role in almost any company’s marketing plan.
My problem is with those people who believe that social networking is the only marketing medium they need in order to be successful. Some of these people spend hours every week, or hours every day, doing nothing more than updating their profiles, looking for friends/connections and tweeting about something (or nothing). I’ve worked with some of these social networking addicts as clients. They’ve sworn up and down that their efforts have been very successful for them.
Sad to say, though, not one of my clients who thought they were running a successful marketing campaign solely through social networking was actually seeing any business. They considered their growing base of friends, contacts and followers to be a metric of success. If their marketing objective was to have a certain number of people in what I call their fan base, then, yes they were successful. If, however, the goal was to increase their customer base and revenues, then not one of them could point to a sale that had been generated from their fan base, unless it was from someone who was already a customer!
Now I am sure that there are those few who have landed a great sale or client through their social networking efforts and nothing more. For the majority of us, however, social networking should be just one arm of a multi-pronged, comprehensive, integrated marketing campaign that further establishes our brand and allows us to get our message out to a greater number of people.
My greatest success from the three social networking sites I am on? Increased hits to my website (and three resultant sales) due to higher SEO rankings caused by mentions of and linkbacks to my company.