If you are involved in business marketing, digital marketing or any form of internet advertising, you have had some exposure to the idea of using social media. The truth is that the term, “social media” is frequently misunderstood. Please think about “social media” and how it can help you in your web marketing effort. A business person or entrepreneur should think of social media as being an integral part of their internet marketing and overall business marketing plan.
You should not think of social media in the narrow sense of sites like Facebook or Twitter, platforms that are heavily involved in interpersonal relationships and chatter. Certainly, they cannot be ignored, but web-marketing experts also use web-based sites like Yelp or YouTube. A query in Yelp will get you a local listing for anything from dental offices to taco restaurants, while YouTube is now a primary source of information about almost any subject from patio screen repair to gastric bypass surgery.
The term ‘social media’ should be understood to mean any web-based technology through which an individual or organization might promote their service, business or professional practice. Social media has changed the ways in which customers, byers, clients and patients find the product, business or service they need. Search marketing has made it possible for someone to ask dozens of friends questions like, “Where is the best Happy Hour?”, “Do you know a good dermatologist?” or “Who fixed your shower door?”
“Web-based technology” once meant desktop computers or laptops; more and more, it means mobile devices, especially smart phones. This means that a balanced digital marketing plan must include mobile marketing. Social network marketing and social media marketing are now important parts of online advertising. Because social media grew so quickly, some business people might still think of it as being a passing fad or a minor part of a digital marketing plan. This is definitely not the case! Search marketing is now the primary way in which many products or services are chosen.
Do a quick test. Go to Yelp.com and search for “cardiologists near “ + [your zip code]. Most people do not think of cardiology as a social marketing subject, but this search will almost certainly turn up office listings and reviews for most of the practicing cardiologists in the area. Most cardiology practices will now have at least a web page and many have their own YouTube channel where you can learn about angiograms, vascular stints or how to help control your cholesterol. Both the web page and the YouTube channel are forms of digital marketing and internet advertising.
A presence on social media sites can help your business, non-profit or professional practice in numerous ways. First, it makes you or your organization more recognizable, accessible and familiar to customers or potential customers. The value of this familiarity is huge. Imagine that you are looking at a large store display while shopping for toothpaste. Are you more likely to choose a brand that is familiar or one you have never heard of? People almost always choose the familiar name.
The role of traditional advertising was to establish this brand familiarity. In the past, only large advertising budgets could make names like ‘Colgate’ toothpaste familiar to shoppers. Digital marketing, social media marketing and search marketing have made it possible to achieve this familiarity at a tiny fraction of the cost.
Second, social network marketing provides a chance to demonstrate your expertise, to show that you know your business, be it computer repair or tile installation. A complete internet marketing strategy should include traditional digital marketing like a company webpage, but also informative articles or online video marketing presentations that educate and inform your audience. Social network marketing can make you not only familiar, but also trusted as a source of services, products or advice.
Perhaps the most important reason for giving attention to social media marketing is that your competitors are already doing it. This is true of almost any service, profession, product or even idea. If you are providing a cat grooming service, you will find that entering the term ‘cat grooming’ on Facebook returns dozens of results that include descriptions, maps, directions and other information. Many people turn to Facebook to find this service. If you are a non-profit serving the needs of homeless people, a Facebook search returns dozens of results that relate directly to your local area. Social media marketing provides an effective, low-cost way to reach the consumers of your product, service or idea.
Future articles will take a close look at specific search marketing and social media marketing websites. As a business person, service provider or non-profit manager, you probably do not have the time or skill to devote to social network marketing or web marketing in general. At AXIOM Administrative Services, social media marketing is one of our primary concerns. AXIOM can help your business with any form of web marketing, including social media and social network marketing.
AXIOM understands the needs of small businesses, professional practices and nonprofits. Please visit AXIOM’s Small Business Services page or by calling 800-888-6348.