Over the past few months, a number of clients have come to me with slight variations of the same comment “My clients don’t use social media, why should I bother?”
Many add that word of mouth and client referrals are what really grow their business, not random leads from social media or their websites. Sometimes, I feel like they are looking to me to give them permission to ‘ignore’ social media. I am not the type to tell anyone that they MUST do ANY one thing. There is no one single ‘correct’ way to run a business. I understand that we are all strapped for time and looking to get the most out of our efforts.
My goal is to provide practical advice and guidance and in this case, I do highly recommend that you make the time to incorporate social media into your marketing plans.
My reasons are many. First, statistics show that 62% of online males and 71% of online females are using social media. This is not a fad – social media usage has been growing steadily over the past decade and will continue to do so. Social media is fundamentally changing the way that people play, work and do business. Ignoring it will not change these facts. Nor is social media exclusively for teens. While 89% of 18 – 29 year olds are using social media, 77% of people ages 30 – 49 and 52% of those 50 – 64 are also engaging regularly. Even 32% of those over 65 can be found there. These are not outliers but increasingly, social media users are the norm.
My next point is that ‘word of mouth’ does not preclude social media at all. Social media is all about word of mouth!
It facilitates and amplifies word of mouth and should be considered a key resource when you are looking for ways to increase awareness of your business. People have always looked to friends and colleagues for information and referrals – now, in addition to asking at the water cooler or over the backyard fence, people ask online via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!
After receiving a referral, either in person or virtually, most people will now Google you to learn more about you and your business before moving forward. Google yourself and see what you find. This will give you an idea of what they will be finding and basing their decision on. Ideally, when someone is considering using your services or purchasing your products, the info they find online will support, not undermine, the decision to hire YOU. During this consideration phase, they may also be vetting your competition, which is yet another reason to be sure that your online presence is complete and robust. If you were looking for an exterminator, or a lawyer or a life coach and one company had an outdated website (or no website at all) and a facebook page that had clearly been abandoned and the other company had an informative and easy to navigate website with links to a series of social profiles with engaged communities, which would you pick? If nothing else, you would certainly learn a lot more about the one with the rich online presence. Both may have been referred by friends, via word of mouth, but the decision may be made based on the info gleaned during the search.
Yet another reason to have an active social media presence is to stay engaged with and on the radar of, your potential clients. Often, someone may hear about your services before they are ready to follow through. They may be thinking about or planning for a special cruise but are not ready to book it just yet. By inviting them to join a community of like minded ‘cruise -going’ people, you give them a chance to learn more about you and the trips you offer, you give them the opportunity to hear others rave about the great job you did for them and you will be top of mind when they ARE ready to go ahead and book that trip!
There are dozens more advantages to having a rich social media presence, including indexing by major search engines, but these points should, I believe, be enough to underscore its importance and help you decide that yes, in most cases, having a social media presence IS worth the effort.
When you are ready to get started, please give me a call – I will be happy to help you figure out the platforms that are right for you, to show you and your team how to use them to reach YOUR goals and to create an effective plan to monitor and maintain your profiles in 20 minutes a day or less!