I read a lot about social media marketing. I find this area of my discipline fascinating and I have a thirst to learn as much about how to use these tools to effectively market a business as I can absorb. But every so often, the information is presented in such a way that it implies that social media marketing is a replacement for the more “traditional” marketing activities. A “tug of war” between the two, so to speak. And this concerns me.
For someone with less knowledge about marketing, this view could be taken too literal. These business owners may believe that social media marketing is the “new marketing” and that other marketing tactics, such as direct mail, advertising, public relations, events and word of mouth no longer work and are getting replaced by this shiny new media.
These beliefs are similar to what I saw earlier in this decade about Web sites. I heard many people talking about the Web site as the end goal rather than the means to an end. I heard business owners say things like “I spent a lot of money on my Web site but it doesn’t work. I haven’t gotten any customers from it.” I saw Web developers creating Web sites in a vacuum, not viewing the site as a marketing tool but as the end product. Everyone who approached their Web site with this view was disappointed in the outcome of their efforts.
I want to ensure that business owners avoid a similar kind of disappointment with social media. If social media marketing is going to help you grow your business, it needs to be a part of your overall marketing plan. Social media is one type of marketing that you can select to market your business. And depending on your business, it may work for you or it may not. But unless you look at all your options, who your target is and how you best reach them, social media may just take up your time and not produce the results you are striving for. Although it will be true that some social media activities will replace other marketing tactics, you need to look at the big picture, make informed decisions and tradeoffs and understand how your marketing will help you achieve the vision you’ve defined for your business.
In your marketing plan, look at all the different marketing strategies available to you:
- Public relations
- Internet marketing
- Social media marketing
- Direct marketing
- Word of mouth
- Strategic alliances
Within each strategy, review the tactics available that are feasible for your business and budget. Then make a conscious decision on which types of marketing you wish to implement and when.
Social media marketing is a valuable marketing strategy for many businesses due to its reach, cost and effectiveness. However, like all other types of marketing, it is a means to an end. The end better be more visibility and credibility for you, resulting in more clients and revenue for your business. Otherwise why bother?