The Importance of Social Media and Blogs

KellyShibari_SocialMediaRace

Isn’t social media just a place for kids to chat with each other, or adults to reconnect with former classmates (and stalk ex-lovers, and find new ones)?

Not quite.

Here’s a quick list of reasons why social media marketing, social networking, and blogging is beneficial, and more and more becoming crucial:

  • It’s free, and you can start today. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Myspace, and a plethora of other social networking sites are all free to use as long as you have an internet connection (and if you’re reading this, then obviously you have that part covered). Blogs are relatively free – you could, for instance, use any of the established blog sites such as Blogger or Blogspot, but remember, you’re going to do better if you get your own domain name and host it yourself (I’ll explain this in a bit). So there’s the cost of buying a domain and hosting it, but we’re talking numbers like $7 a year for the domain and $5 a month for hosting. Like I said, it’s free to relatively free.
  • Immediate results. I’m not talking immediate results as far as SEO is concerned (that takes a little time depending on things such as frequency of posts and chosen keywords, etc). I mean you get real-time results and reactions from your consumer/customer base. You release a DVD, or a new product, or even a commercial or trailer for it, and post it on your social networks — that will yield you an immediate return as far as customer reaction, potential interest in purchase, and possible changes you might want to make before release. It’s free R&D as well as customer service.
  • People don’t browse IRL any more. As Hubspot recently said, “Surveys indicate 90% or more of people begin their purchasing process in search engines.” Just think back to the last time you considered buying something. Did you use a search engine to see where it’s sold, customer reviews, and/or where it might be available cheaper? Social network posts and blogs, done correctly, hit the search engines in such a way that your product is what people will find when doing their searches online. If you’re not there, or not on the first page or two of a search engine, the likelihood that your product is found (and purchased) is dramatically lessened. Do you really want to wait until someone finds an open afternoon to go browsing in a brick and mortar store to come across your product?
  • Old media is going out the door. People who have spent enough time online, either through search engines, social networks, or even email, understand what spam looks and sounds like. We’ve gotten accustomed to not answering the phone when it’s clear it’s a telemarketer, and Do Not Call lists are a normal thing these days. Telemarketing, direct mail and email lists are all passe and go directly into the junk mail folder and ignored via filters. Television ads are skipped over in DVR and print ads are tossed in the recycling. So why bother implementing (and wasting money on) those methods? New media – that is, inbound marketing – gets the attention of the buyer before you even reach them, and gets them to come to you. From there, making sure they stick around is that name of the game – which can be done via blogs and social media.
  • “First Mover Advantage”. It’s like any business – it’s all about being there first. If you haven’t established yourself as the expert on a certain product, you’re forever going to be working twice as hard to prove that you’re better than the other guy. All you’ll be seen as is as a copycat product. Get there first, online, and get the message out as best you can to as many people as you can, and interact with them properly, and get as far a headstart as possible, and you’ll be the one that customers come to first before looking at the followers.