Social media marketing is a trend, not a fad. But, most small to medium-sized businesses have yet to participate fully and enthusiastically.
We have just written about a powerful new research study that paints a picture of how thousands of smart companies are already benefiting from the inclusion of social media. What’s clear from that research is that when we evaluate social media, we are not talking about the marketing longevity equivalent of the hula hoop or the Lambada.
Social media marketing is here to stay. Because you want your organization to be here for the long haul as well, you need to move now. Not next week. Not next month. But now.
Here are the six reasons that dictate your need to begin social media marketing now:
Your customers are using it to make buying decisions. Millions of web users, both in the business to consumer and business-to-business markets, are reading blogs and listening to podcasts daily. They are relying increasingly on social media for buying information in both the b2b and b2c worlds.
- Smart news organizations are with the social media program. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and almost certainly your local newspaper have made social media fundamental to how they learn and how they report. If it’s good enough for their information gathering and sharing where it really counts, it’s certainly good enough for the rest of us.
- Most small and medium-sized companies are still not using it. You won’t always have the chance to get the jump on your competition. Imagine yourself back in the early days of TV and you were the first car dealer, furniture store or air conditioning company to run local advertising opposite I Love Lucy or the Lone Ranger. You would have demolished the competition. You still have a small window of time to be early enough to create competitive advantage. Hi Ho, Silver and away!
- Your smartest competitors are using it. You’re almost certainly paying attention to your smartest competition. I’d be surprised if a high percentage of them are not at least putting a toe into the social media waters. Organizations as diverse as law firms, interior designers, real estate agents, and roofing companies are using blogs, podcasts, videos, and user communities such as Facebook to demonstrate their expertise and thought leadership. Don’t let those tough competitors outmarket you via social media.
- It can be your most cost effective marketing strategy. The required financial investment in creating a blog, for example, can be close to zero. The real investment will be in time and thought required to craft a content marketing strategy which provides valuable information to your customers and prospects. You may need to a hire specific content creation resources either internally or externally. But this will probably be less expensive than a many traditional advertising outlets.
- Your old-style marketing is less and less effective. Because buyer behavior has changed, you cannot expect traditional advertising alone to drive buyers to your business as it did a decade ago. You may certainly want to use it to drive them to your online home. That’s where you can prove to prospective customers that you are a reliable supplier who can be trusted, based on your knowledge and understanding of your their problems. A regular blog or a series of informative podcasts may be just the ticket to prove that you are the best choice to provide essential solutions.
You may still think it’s risky or unproductive to make an investment in core social media components such as blogs, videos,podcasts–or communities such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. I suggest that the real risk is in waiting too long and being left in the dust. After all, some very smart marketers have already proven the power of these online tools.