There are several camps of thought when it comes to the benefits of social media. Some feel it is the only way to go, while others shy away from it completely. So how is a business to know what to do?
Let’s take a quick look at the different schools of thought regarding social media.
THE “SOCIAL MEDIA IS WORTHLESS” CAMP
Those who belong to the Social Media is Worthless Camp feel that social media is nothing more than a bubble and will recede into the sunset along with the other internet bubbles. Remember Friendster? Case in point.
Many in this camp feel that social media is the next big thing and, therefore, cannot last. They prefer to put their energies into time-tested, stable practices such as Search Engine Optimization, PPC, and SEM.
THE “I SEE VALUE IN SOCIAL MEDIA” CAMP
The folks in this camp are the most reasonable of the three camps, the happy medium, if you will. Albeit somewhat of a bunch of fence sitters, this group realizes that there is value to be had in social media and tries to tap into it.
The benefits of social media, from their perspectives, is that of research and announcements. Social media sites such as Facebook hold an enormous amount of information about your market segment and customer base. It is a window into the homes of your buyers and potential buyers. And they’ve left their window wide open.
Is it also a great place to spread the word about your company, a promotion, a contest, an event where friends share and invite their friends to join in the fun (if you’ve done your work and actually made your content fun and inviting).
There is value in social media, but is not the driving force of their SEO and marketing efforts.
THE “I (HEART) SOCIAL MEDIA” CAMP
Those who belong to this group spend more hours talking with their friends on Facebook than with real, live people. They believe a well-executed ad campaign on Facebook or a witty video on YouTube is the rainbow which will lead them to the pot of gold. One’s time is best spent on social media sites.
Their biggest argument for this are the rather large handful of cases of people experiencing huge ROIs and success from their social media efforts. Many artists have been discovered on YouTube, such as Zee Avi. Many companies have seen sales go up 100 fold after posting a video. So it’s possible.
There are lessons to be learned from all three camps. Social Media is a powerful tool bu it can also be a waste of time.
What sucks so many people into focusing all their efforts on social media is that the time spent doing it is rather pleasant and the rewards come with more warm fuzzies than, say, link building.
Social Media should be implemented along with a full blown SEO and SEM campaign. It should complement your advertising efforts, not be the main source. Think of Social Media as a crisp glass of Chardonnay with your meal; it complements, not sustains.
Things Social Media Can Do For You
1. Helps you get to know your audience
Social media is an incredibly powerful learning tool to help you find out more and understand your target audience.
Social media sites have forums, chat rooms, and fan pages that are filled with nuggets of information from people already interested in your industry. Join these groups and get in on the conversation as an investigator, a detective, NOT as a salesman. Ask questions and read what people are saying about certain products or companies. Social media has also given people the self-appointed power of being critical and all-knowing about everything and they have no qualms about sharing the opinions with the world.
2. Get Free Incoming Links at a Click of a Button
That magic button is the Digg, Reddit, or other kudos-type buttons you should have at the top of every post. If something likes what they read, they can Digg It and share it with friends. This generates links and even better, traffic.
3. Come Up First on SERPs
If you write a killer article and lots of people Digg it (in both senses of the word), that Digg article can come up high on the SERPs, even if your website doesn’t. And having an article with lots of Diggs generates loads of traffic.
There is great power in social media, however, don’t get carried away and spend all your time trying to add more friends to your profile. Social media can quickly eat away at all your time.