Why you need more than just social media
Nick Lewis explains that while marketing your firm through social media is vital, you must utilise more traditional methods, too
As a social media marketer my biggest frustration is sometimes not being able to influence other key essential marketing functions of my clients. Whether the client works in the accountancy sector or in another it does not matter. Social media on its own is often not enough to reach the desired audience.
A modern fallacy is that social media is the ‘deus ex machina’ of marketing. Have a Facebook page, get posts going ‘viral’ (i.e. widely distributed to other social media users), sit back and wait for the leads to come in. All for ‘free’ too!
However, ask anyone who has tried to replicate this perceived wisdom and you’ll either get a disenchanted reply and or only half the story. To start at very first principles, if your service or product proposition is not attractive or not in demand, not even the best social media campaign would get clients knocking on your door. Your messaging and proposed services need to be thought through and stress-tested, and then applied universally and consistently to all your marketing activities.
Missing potential leads
Assuming you have thought through your marketing strategy and you’re confident in your services’ appeal to possible clients, if you just implement that strategy through social media you are missing a huge swathe of potential leads. For reasons I will explain later, social media is vital for other marketing functions to succeed, but on its own it is ineffective. Take accountancy for example: do people honestly go onto Twitter or Facebook to look for an accountant? I would argue not. Therefore pursing a social media only strategy for an accountant would be both eccentric, optimistic and self-defeating.
That said, social media is still very much needed by accountants to market themselves effectively. This is because social media supports other marketing processes that are essential in brand awareness and lead generation, even if the social media channels themselves may not yield any direct leads or conversion in their own right.
Fundamentally, social media marketing is effective in supporting the prominence of your website and your real world activities, as it is your web presence and your face-to-face selling that will yield the conversions of clients. Without social media, your website runs the risk of being invisible and your own professional brand will remain anonymous and unsubstantiated to those who may try to research either your company or your own professional reputation online.
For example, social media is a key component of effective search engine optimisation or SEO as it is known by. In short, SEO is a series of techniques and disciplines that will help influence where your website (and specific individual pages appear) in search engine results on websites such as Google. Effective social media generates lots of links to your website, which is one of the key criteria used by companies such as Google when evaluating how relevant your online content is for people searching for specific information. Without social media, this would not happen, your website would be less prominent in search results, in turn resulting in fewer visitors to your website, leading to a reduced opportunity to make a conversion via online means.
Of course, one thing to stress is that if you are not concerned about SEO, your competitors probably are, and their websites will be appearing above yours in search engine results. Not only are you not putting yourself in front of clients online, you are in effect fertilising the ground to your competitors who will get the business instead.
Your website is the cornerstone of your online marketing campaign and, by extension, the bedrock of your social media marketing messaging. If the purpose of social media is to support your website, the website itself has to be interesting, engaging and regularly updated in addition to being technically built to the right specifications for accessibility and SEO considerations. If your social media is directing people to a mediocre website, the whole exercise becomes counter-productive.
Your website should also inform the messaging of your social media. If you don’t have a website or a clearly thought-out marketing strategy, you will not know what to say on social media or to whom you are trying to communicate with. Social media does have a symbiotic relationship with your website and can inform modifications to your marketing strategy, but social media on its own does not suffice as a surrogate for everything else.
- Nick Lewis is the Marketing Manager of Get Seen Now, a marketing & promotions company with exclusive offers for ICPA members. See www.getseennow.co.uk
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