From Information To Communication Highway
It’s a subject that gets a lot of attention in the online marketing community, and even plays out at summer backyard barbecues on the weekend while non-geeky web folks consider all that’s new on the world wide web. Is Social Media the real deal, and if it is, what the heck is it anyway? It’s even a subject that I’ve touched on more than once here on these pages, yet it continually deserves more thoughtful reflection aimed to help folks separate fact from fiction. And we can pretty quickly confirm the fiction that Social Media is the savior to everyone’s business marketing woes online. That said, it is a fact that Social Media does play a role in successfully being a business online today. In fact, the premise of Social Media has been at play far longer than the craze has been going on – we’ve always been using the Internet to spark compelling interaction between business and prospect. The methods by which we accomplish this just keep on changing, and that’s okay.
Constant change is nearly the only consistency in Internet Marketing. Amidst its ever-shifting landscape there are, however, several recurring themes. How to reach the right customers? How to reach them cost effectively? How to measure the effort? All the while, companies struggle to keep up with the changes, and fear wasted and costly efforts they can’t quantify or recoup.
While Social Media is all the rage, many businesses feel obligated to participate. However, there is no denying that many view it with skepticism, assuming that it is just some passing phase, hoping they won’t have to master yet another Internet tool. Businesses must take care not to miss the Social Media forest for the trees as they watch the comings and goings of things like MySpace or Twitter. The popularity of platforms and applications will always rise and fall, but they aren’t a true indicator to the value of the medium they serve.
Social Media’s evolution is born out of technology’s ability to improve communication. This is the overarching consistency which Social Media serves. Key to business communication is driving a marketing message and encouraging customer interaction, two things that Social Media can directly influence. Reaching customers, delivering compelling content, and fostering a valuable relationship with consumers continue to drive marketing efforts online. This has long been the function of Pay Per Click ads, and display/banner advertising as well. The tools evolve, but the goals remain consistent.
To enable businesses to successfully evolve along with the Internet Marketing landscape, simplification is key. No company can effectively navigate the path while it appears cluttered and confusing. Aligning and prioritizing Social Media tools based upon how they best meet a business’ marketing goals can be a welcome revelation. Staying attuned to your goals can simplify the path. When it becomes clear that no one must do everything all at once, and more importantly, not do things just because everyone is doing them, the path to successful Social Media marketing clears.
Businesses participating in Social Media can recognize that it allows them to engage with customers, share content which benefits their audience, and study the conversations occurring online within their space, no matter how niche. They can not only begin to measure the impact of these efforts as a specific marketing metric, but also reap the more long term, and often hard to quantify benefit of simply joining in the dialogue with their target audience – a concept too compelling to ignore. Using Social Media will soon be as obligatory to business as having a customer service layer, or as building a website in the first place. Getting started need not be daunting, and once prioritizing the tools to business goals is understood, tangible benefits can begin. Keep the goals of improving communication and dialogue in the forefront and it naturally drives down the static and confusion as you approach Social Media.