How Objections to Social Media Are Killing Your Business
One of the most common objections to social media is that it’s a fad; here today gone tomorrow. There is truth in that the social media sites we have today grew out of other sites: LinkedIn (2003) evolved from SixDegrees (1997) and Friendster (2002), then MySpace (2006) gave way to Facebook (2004) when it opened itself up beyond college students in 2006. And this is not the end of the list by any stretch.
As long as human beings have the need to reach out and communicate, they will discover and push technologies to achieve that. I am still waiting for the technology that makes Star Trek’s transporter replace airplanes! In the meantime, the best way to do business globally is to pull together a social media strategy. Yet, a lot of business owners haven’t done so because of their objections to social media. However, these objections may be killing your ability to generate leads and new customers and ultimately, be killing your business.
1. There’s no return on investment in social media. What is the ROI for your phone? If you don’t have a phone or a website or a social media profile, you do not exist on the business landscape of your customer. That doesn’t mean that you just throw money at social media and hope it delivers results. Use sound business principles. Set business goals and start comparing the investment you currently have in getting and keeping customers with new social media tools.
2. We don’t have the money or the time to waste on this new thing. This is another ROI question. If you currently make cold calls, send sales reps into the field, go to networking events, travel to trade shows, gather business cards, make sales calls, make appointments, drive to appointments and make more appointment to generate a new sale, then you might actually be saving time and money by using social media tools. I still have face-to-face meetings, but these often come AFTER a lengthy relationship building series over LinkedIn, Facebook and even Skype. I’ve just calculated my mileage for taxes and have seen a 50 percent decrease in travel miles over the last three years. The same is true for my “meals” category!
3. We can’t control our message. Yes. Tony Hayward from BP had this same objection and we see how much good it did him. The way you control your message with social media is by putting it out there in the form of blog articles, guest articles, Twitter posts, Facebook updates, LinkedIn updates, answering questions and simply being present online. Think of Google as your homepage. When people search on your name or your company name—the content that you created should overwhelm the page. On a personal note, when I searched my name back in 2005, there was a soap opera star ahead of me and (of all things) a blow up doll! I certainly didn’t want my customers to see THAT! Now when I search on my name—it’s only my content.
4. We’ll lose privacy and expose ourselves to the competition. You will lose as much privacy as you would by sharing information at a networking event or a customer presentation. In fact, social media is a sales and marketing tool—the last thing you want is privacy! Worrying about privacy is like sending your sales rep to a trade show and saying, “Don’t tell anyone we’re there.” You wouldn’t do that at a trade show, why do it online? Maybe you’re stuck on the Twitter idea that people share what they’re having for breakfast. That might have been true in the early days, but overwhelmingly Twitter is a place where conversations happen about brand. There are marketing research tools out there designed to pull and analyze what products and services people are talking about. They wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t there and important.
5. We’ll open ourselves up for legal problems. This is a valid concern, especially for companies that are in heavily regulated industries like financial services. Instead of saying that it’s too difficult, get legal advice on what is acceptable in your industry. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued general guidelines for social media that will help you start thinking about what the best way is for you to address your social media strategy. I recommend coming up with objectives and plans for your social media marketing strategy and THEN consult your legal team. This way you will get them to think of ways for you to achieve your objective instead of focusing on what you cannot do. Finally, create a social media policy that clearly states what’s acceptable and what’s not for your organization. Create social media identities for those employees who are eager to promote your brand online and be clear about how they are to represent your brand.
Don’t let uncertainty or doubt overcome the need for your business to gain new leads, prospects and customers. Instead of approaching the world of social media with an immediate “no” and then finding excuses as to why it’s not for you, start with “yes” and see what benefits suddenly open up for you.
Social Media Now Top Marketing Pick for Local Businesses
Social media marketing is the big winner with local businesses in the marketing method sweepstakes, according to a new survey. But social media’s win comes at the expense of traditional offline marketing methods, which continue to decline.
The survey data revealed that local merchants, who usually have very limited time and money for marketing, are increasingly gravitating toward marketing methods such as Facebook and other social media, as well as toward tried-and-true online methods like search and e-mail marketing.
According to the MerchantCircle quarterly confidence index of 8,500 small and local businesses across the U.S., more than half of local merchants are spending less than $2,500 a year on marketing, and 60 percent have no plans to raise their budgets this year. This places a premium on cost-effective marketing.
Facebook is the clear category leader, according to the survey. Because of its huge consumer adoption, ease-of-use and low barrier to entry, the social media network continues to be a popular way for merchants to market their businesses, with 70 percent using Facebook for marketing, up from 50 percent a year ago.
Twitter has also grown in popularity over the past year, MerchantCircle said, with nearly 40 percent of local merchants using the platform to build awareness and community around their products and services. This is up from 32 percent in the last quarter of 2009.
Offline marketing has been the loser with local businesses. During 2010, print advertising dropped by 33 percent, use of print Yellow Pages decreased 18 percent and use of direct mail fell by 26 percent.
What to do if you can’t afford SEO
Many small businesses are trapped. They know their companies could grow by marketing online more effectively but they do not have a big enough annual budget to get an agency to work for them.
So what can they do? Knowing they are missing out on considerable potential revenue but not having enough spare cash to chase that revenue must be frustrating.
Hire a fresh face
You may not have sufficient monthly budget to afford the work of an agency but you might be able to hire in your own talent. This gives you a full-time SEO service – so even if you could afford a basic agency package, this could be better value.
SEO is becoming an increasingly competitive sector and there are many hungry graduates and marketers out there who want to add success stories to their own portfolios.
Find a freelancer
A growing number of low-level search executives are all trying to raise their heads above the competition to bag jobs at major firms and agencies.
Like fresh graduates, many of these would be willing to take on a freelance SEO project in their spare time in order to boost their portfolio, as well as earn a little extra cash.
Do it yourself
There are plenty of ways a small business can enhance their own search engine rankings, even without bringing in some outside help.
Admittedly, you’re a beginner and so you’re less likely to see rapid success than you would by bringing in some expertise. However, there are plenty of ways that you can work the web without outside help.
Paid search advertising
Build a blog
Using a blog can help both with social media marketing and organic SEO – a term that means boosting your rankings in the free search results.
If you want some instant success and easy wins, paid search (the paid-for adverts at the top and sides of the search results) can bring immediate results.
Write guest blog posts
You can also start offering guest posts to other relevant blogs, also building links back to yours.
While you may want to embrace SEO in order to target a wider audience, don’t overlook the value of increased marketing to your local community.
You may not know much about the more technical aspects of SEO, but you can talk, can’t you?
Communicating through channels like Twitter won’t just help you gain those online customers you interact with, it can also help with your SEO.
By tweeting links to your pages (where appropriate – Twitter isn’t a spam engine), you can encourage people to share and discuss your online content.
This helps Google see the value of your pages, helping you rise through the ranks.
My answer on Quora to: What are the differences between sales and marketing? http://qr.ae/27AW
Sales and marketing are two entities used hand-in-hand; one fuels the other and they both promote and move the business. Failure to focus more on one entity is usually an indication of organizational structure thus the company/corporate goals. Sales markets the company every time they touch a potential or existing customer, same as marketing initiates a sales process with every research, analysis, planning and promotional activity. The common understanding of marketing is its power to either boost or drain sales by consuming the organizational resources; in which actually still remains as the only “myth”. Keeping the balance on organizational resources will show the differences between sales & marketing mainly by analyzing the past data and performance outcomes. A marketer at the end has to be a salesman as much as a salesman has to understand her/his stand on organizational marketing efforts. There are no differences but life-cycles in which every end is the start of the next sales/marketing effort.