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Is social media right for your business?

September 10th, 2011 · 21 Comments · Business Owner/Leader Stuff, Social Media, Strategy

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…is social media right for your business?

There are a lot of social media “experts” out there who will tell you that every single organization on the globe should be participating in social media.  They will point to the cool Facebook fan pages they’ve made or the funny videos their clients have on YouTube and say “see, you can do this too.”  And they’re right.  You can.

The question is:  Should you?

The real answer to that question is “it depends.”  It depends on whether or not it can do one of two things.

  1. Save you money
  2. Make you money

If it isn’t going to accomplish one of those two goals, then you have no business engaging in it.  Why?

Participating in social media is expensive.  I know everyone talks about how cheap it is…but that’s because they are not thinking like a business owner.  They’re thinking like someone who knows how to open a YouTube channel account or sign you up on Twitter.   It’s true, creating an account on many of the tools and networks is free.  But that’s where free ends.

To integrate social media into the rest of your marketing, which is an absolute if you want to consider it a business tool, you are going to have to expend some resources.  Social media requires care and feeding.  It requires brand integration.  And it requires a well-conceived strategy.  All of those are going to cost time and money.

Don’t misunderstand.  I believe in the power and reach of social media and most of our agency’s clients are using social media tools as part of their overall marketing strategy, but I am not bullish on the belief du jour that everyone must do it and it’s free.  Neither is true.

Here are twenty questions to ask yourself as you consider melding social media into your existing marketing strategy.

How will it save us money?

  1. Will it allow us to stop doing something we’re currently doing?
  2. Will it allow us to extend/expand something we are currently doing?
  3. Will it lower our customer acquisition costs?
  4. Will it connect us to existing customers in an efficient way?
  5. Will we be able to use social media to create a community specifically for our customers?
  6. Will it be easier for our customers to rave about us/create positive word of mouth?
  7. Do we look behind the times to our customers if we aren’t there?
  8. Will it introduce us to new potential customers at a low lead generation cost?
  9. Will it make us more findable (either within the social network or on search engines)?
  10. Will it impact our search engine results? (so we don’t have to buy results)

How will it make us money?

  1. Will it shorten our sales cycle?
  2. Will it create credibility/trust faster among prospects?
  3. Can we establish ourselves as the expert?
  4. Will it shorten customer service response time?
  5. Will it create a sense of accessibility for our customers?
  6. Will it increase trial of our product/service?
  7. Will it allow us to connect with more prospects at once?
  8. Will it increase repeat buying?
  9. Will it increase up sells?
  10. Can we collect/use testimonials?

If the answers to those questions indicates that social media would be a smart investment for your company to make, then you should be there.  But now you will enter into it knowing that there’s a return for that investment.

Now we’re talking smart marketing, not marketing hype.

 

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21 Comments so far ↓

  • Mae Loraine Jacobs 

    This is a terrific post and absolutely timely, considering I’ve met plenty of clients who spend a lot of time in social media websites without really generating any sales from them. Just because everyone is doing Facebook and Twitter doesn’t mean they are the only best tools to use.

    • Drew McLellan

      Mae,

      Hopefully the list of questions forces business owners/leaders into thinking through both the obvious and the not so obvious ways they could utilize social media. I worry that everyone dives in, thinking it will be the holy grail to new sales, when perhaps customer service or some other aspect of it would actually benefit their business much more!

      Drew

  • Dick Davies

    Governing is deciding what not to do.
    Your post nicely concentrates the discussion required to take action.
    Masterful!

    • Drew McLellan

      Dick,

      Hmm, I’ve never heard it expressed that way before, but you are so right. We’re faced with so many choices. It is about being selective and focused. Thanks for the food for thought!

      Drew

  • Kneale Mann

    Excellent post, Drew. Yes, there is much ado about the social web and the prognosticators who scoff at any company in their right mind that hasn’t jumped in the deep end of the social web. One (okay, me) often wonders how many have ever owned a company where millions hang in the balance or even if they have sat across the table from someone who does and explained the measured business case for embracing a new channel.

    And you are bang on – not his not free. If you want social to be part of your business, ensure it’s not all you do because other mediums remain viable, be prepared to embrace it across the enterprise and not just toss it to Jimmy over in the marketing department because he has a cool laptop and a blog.

    • Drew McLellan

      Kneale,

      The longer I am involved in the digital space, the more I realize it’s not a tool or a medium — it’s an attitude. (One my my next blogs posts, me thinks!) And if you aren’t going to go into with the right attitude, you’re going to find yourself bewildered and frustrated.

      Drew

  • Ray

    Great post – I often hear from clients that they’ve “heard about social media” and want to get involved; but sometimes it’s just a waste of time and not the right fit. Thanks for the read.

    • Drew McLellan

      Ray,

      My pleasure…hopefully it will help business owners and leaders make an informed decision, as opposed to jumping in because everyone else is there.

      Drew

  • Connor Keating

    I remember reading an article by Yury Mintskovsky saying that ever since the introduction of social media online marketing has completely changed. And this is the truth. It’s free, it’s easy and the viewers and potential clients are almost endless.

    • Drew McLellan

      Connor,

      True….to a certain point. It’s not really free. It times time and effort (and sometimes some money) to make social media a part of your marketing mix. But assuming you’re willing to invest a little, it can be a powerful tool!

      Drew

  • Emily Carter

    Drew,

    I agree with this completely. At Grass Roots Marketing, we have found that social media is a great way to not only create a community for customers, but it’s an efficient way to communicate to them. We provide valuable content to them, which establishes us an a subject matter expert. Doing the same for our clients has proven to be an effective way to drive customers to their websites. In our eyes, social media has become a positive means of networking and lead generation.

    • Drew McLellan

      Emily,

      If it is done well and consistently, it can be a powerful lead gen tool not to mention great for reputation management. But as I’m sure you have seen, not everyone does it well or consistently. Then, it can cause problems.

      Drew

  • Ragnarok

    One negative thing about social media though is when you have a lot of competition for the product your trying to permote you also have to make sure that someone doesn’t swoop in and steal all of your customers by adding all of them into a group and trying to out perform you by providing something that you do not have. So while you can use it as a open door opportunity to permote at the same time someone else can mess you up so you have to also be careful with social media as well.

  • Dallas SEO firm

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web.

  • Commercial Building Services

    Great blog – totally agree with y0our sentiments here – is social media going to make me money? and how much do I need to invest? Wise words!

    Thanks

    Jason

  • Commercial Printer Berkshire

    Crucial questions that every business owner should ask.

    Thanks for sharing

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