Will Facebook take over from websites?

Alice

The short answer is No. This question is asked because, with some businesses, it appears that their Facebook page is getting more hits than their website, but let me assure you these statistics appear to be deceptive.

But let’s start at the beginning. To succeed on Facebook depends on your product (and that includes services) and the kind of customer you are targeting. Certainly in the States, where social networking takes on a totally different culture than in this country, Facebook has a much larger presence and some businesses are thriving on there, but to what cost?

Facebook is an excellent medium to excite initial interest in your company and what it has to offer. As a social networking site it is, of course, interactive and new content is automatically placed on subscribers’ walls. It is ideal for defining problems, socially empathising with them, and with effective communication tactics gather a suitable following. But, as with all social media, selling and marketing is not tolerated; once you’ve captured your audience your Facebook should act like a squeeze page, directing them towards your website where the necessary marketing activities can be put into practice.

Social networking is all about forming relationships and interacting with these new connections. A Facebook page should perform as a microsite, a landing page, a community portal back to your website. It is excellent for lead generation, and your website should collect these likely candidates through its newsletter signup or whatever method you have, so you can communicate your marketing to them later over time.

Unlike your website, Facebook is only temporary. How long will it last before it disappears, changes or is taken over? Although you may have effectively branded your Facebook page to suitably reflect your corporate image, it is still not ‘yours’, Facebook owns it, hence all the adverts in the sidebars. You don’t have control over the navigation as in your own website, and you have to abide by Facebook’s terms and conditions. Your website is a medium to reflect your own image and brand, let alone market and sell your product or service, whereas your Facebook page is purely promotional, a social networking voice for interaction, networking, feedback, customer collecting and lots of fun and creativity!

Advertisements

Is tweeting a waste of time?

Alice

To the uninitiated Twitter may be considered a useless pursuit. The idea of reading these little ‘messages’ that rapidly zip past your eyes, all seemingly unconnected with each other, blathering on about nothing in particular, would seem like a waste of time.

Until you analyse why people do twitter. Social networking is about being sociable, and forming relationships with each other. It’s about spreading news, sharing information, meeting new people, learning what’s happening, finding out what others are doing or have achieved, reading what others have written – all enabling you to engage without the expectation of gaining.

You could trundle along with your business totally unaware of what is happening outside your doors, or you could, from the comfort of your computer chair, be alive to all that activity online. It can be focused within certain areas: local issues, your niche, a particular subject, your competitors, your friends or enemies, your hobbies, political news, the latest gossip – and you aren’t expected to be able to follow everything, or it will drive you mad!

So how does it help your business? Of course raising your company’s awareness online is always good, and you can feed your blog posts onto Twitter to reach a larger audience, link up to your website to bring in more traffic, and connect from your other social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn) where you can write more than 140 characters. You can undertake market research by asking questions or following trends and topics, tweet your problems to receive immediate solutions or a link to relevant resources, find out the latest news before it breaks, and learn about other people’s thoughts and aspirations on particular subjects.

But all this twittering would be a waste of time if you didn’t have a focus (this is true for all marketing activity). Are you using it for brand awareness, or for research purposes? Do you want more visitors to your website, or to increase the subscriptions to your blog or newsletter? Are you curious enough to keep an eye on your followers, or just chancing on interesting conversations? Many networking meetings have been arranged through Twitter, with business formed from the results. Many conferences and workshops have gained increased attendances through focused twittering, and skills and expert statuses raised from poignant and relevant tweets.

So who now says tweeting is a waste of time?

How to get ROI through social networking

Alice

Social media is an online method of networking, which is, by its nature, a long term activity. It’s the word ‘networking’ that should give you a clue, which, as every veteran networker will tell you, is all about forming relationships, gaining trust, building your reputation and raising your expertise status within your industry or niche.

Novices and sceptics of social networking often ask about how do you get a ROI (return on investment) within this activity. This is because they have failed to understand the concept of ‘networking’, and have mixed it up with ‘sales’, which it definitely isn’t. It’s also a more relaxed form of marketing, spread over the long term, with any results (or ROI) materialising as you become more successful and expert at it, and when people learn more about what you do and the kind of person you are.

If you are canny, and provide plenty of examples and case-studies within your articles and blog posts, showing through online activity what you’re like and what you can produce, what you’ve done for others and examples of their success, you will build up an extensive list of followers, friends and connections, which all aid towards sharing and extending your audience and therefore your business’s visibility.

Two more things to consider: 1) it’s adviseable to have a proper focus for your social networking, and 2) it cannot succeed through short, intensive burst of activity with long periods of slack in between. Networking works best through long-term drip-feed marketing strategies over a period of time, with consistency having more effect than sporadic quantity. 

Social networking works best with a sociable focus in mind. Forget all your business processes for a little while and concentrate on recognition of those you are following by showing an interest in them, remembering your past conversations and their activities, with plenty of altruism which can go a long way. And it’s certainly worth your while taking the trouble to learn the etiquette of your chosen form of social networking, as each are different for their own reasons, and one method may not work or be appreciated within another.

Now your business mind can clock back into action, and start meausuring your activities (discreetly) to see how you are improving and how much your activies are noted, shared, actioned and talked about. Use the focus you have chosen wisely and remember not to sell, and eventually, if you do all of that, you’ll get your ROI.