* "Only connect. . ." E.M. Forster, Howard's End

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marketing Your Business: It's Not All About Facebook

Okay, so you’ve finally gotten on the social media bandwagon. You’ve been putting it off and putting it off, but now you’ve finally made the move. You’ve decided social media is where its at and you’ve not only launched your business on Facebook but you’ve paid someone to design a snazzy new custom branded Facebook Landing Page.
Your new Landing Page is the place newcomers to your Facebook Page will ‘land’ when they visit. It’s cool, it’s branded for your business and it even has links to your business website. You’re confident that as soon as people see it they will ‘like’ it!
Now you’re waiting for that big pay off - more customers to discover you and the fantastic services and products you provide! After all, isn’t social media, in particular Facebook, where it’s at these days?
Before you get too excited about social media - and you should be excited! - remember the wise old saying: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
While it is important for you to expand your business reach and reputation through the use of social media, and there is no place better for that than Facebook, at least at this time: don’t for a moment think that Facebook alone will do it all. It won’t - at least not for most of us.
With roughly 800 million on Facebook  (and growing daily), and in Canada more half of the population, the opportunities Facebook provides for you to grow your brand and business are huge.
That said a significant portion of the population is still NOT on Facebook. And of the ones that are, many are periodic users checking in only weekly or even monthly.
So too, the demographics of those who use Facebook less frequently may be more like your target audience - at least right now. And even if they’re not, it rarely makes sense to use only one marketing medium to reach your target audience.
For small business owners with a limited budget, whether on Facebook or not, attractive, concise and well-written emails are another way to help market your business. They can share helpful information, special promotional deals and news with clients and those who have ‘signed up’ for your mailing list. And, they are another way to keep in touch, especially for those who are not on Facebook.
In fact, in recent social media findings (US) published by foreseeresults.com, an international online customer satisfaction firm, 64% of the 12,000 visitors to top e-retail websites surveyed indicated they prefer to hear about sales and promotions through ‘Promotional emails’! Only 8% indicated ‘Social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) as their preferred choice. Click here to request a copy of  the report from Foresee.

That said, it is important we don’t read too much into these statistics. We are still in the early days of social media and social networking sites continue to grow daily. Waiting to get on board with social media will only put one at the back of the pack of all of those companies who are on board, and will get on board, in the coming months and over the next few years.
If you’re still not involved in social media, particularly Facebook, don’t wait. Get up to speed sooner rather than later and continue to grow and develop (either you or a key member of your staff) your social media involvement. This will give you the jump on many of your competitors, now and down the road, who have not taken the plunge into social media. And, it will help introduce you to new people (fans, followers, prospective clients) who, with the right approach coupled with great customer service and a good product, can help expand your brand significantly.
On the email front, services like Constant Contact’s email marketing (for a small monthly fee with online support) and MailChimp's email marketing (free for smaller clients but with limited support) are great resources for sending well designed and informative newsletters to clients and subscribers. They also provide measurement tools that allow you to see if your emails are being opened and if the live links you are including have been clicked.
Of course there are a multitude of other ways to market your business too. All require an investment of time and to greater and lesser degrees an investment of capital. Social media offers huge opportunities for business and is always more powerful when combined with other marketing strategies.
For most small businesses, having a well designed and regularly updated website is a no-brainer. Although not everyone is on Facebook, in today's world most of us research online when looking for information about a business - 68% of us according to NielsenWire.
In summary, consider using Facebook to expand the reach of your business now. And, don't discount but carefully consider, other traditional and not so traditional forms of marketing available to you  that may be well suited to growing your business and reaching your target audience.
Sue Cockburn   http://socialmediatoday.com/suecockburn/381929/marketing-your-business-its-not-all-about-facebook

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