Social media is a powerful marketing tool that can be used to reach potential customers and increase brand awareness. Because of this, many small business owners have been led to believe that having a presence on social media is enough to successfully market their business online – unfortunately, this is simply not the case.
Although social media marketing can be seen as a relatively easy and low-cost way to promote your business online, for it to produce any tangible results it must be used as part of a larger marketing strategy. Used alone, it just isn’t enough to market your company - at the very least, you will need a professionally designed website if you really want to experience success online.
Still not convinced? Here are 3 reasons why solely relying on social media won’t get you very far:
1. Social media is rented space that doesn’t truly belong to you
One of the most obvious dangers of depending on social media alone for promoting your business is that you have no control over it.
Sure, you can customize your profile and create your own posts, but ultimately you are using somebody else’s platform to build your business, which means the fate of your company rests in their hands.
In other words, you do not own your social media account.
You may not even own the content that you post on there. You have no control over which of your posts your customers see in their news feeds. You have even less control over the way that you use the platform – rules and regulations can change at any time, with little regard for how this will affect the marketing strategy that you’ve worked hard to put in place.
The clearest example of this is the continuing decline in organic reach. When social media first began, businesses could expect their posts to reach a wide audience of potential customers for free, but nowadays brands must increasingly pay for the privilege to reach not just new audiences, but also their established follower base as well.
At the end of the day, social media is a business, not a free service. This also brings with it the risk of your chosen platform failing, as any business can – if the social media network you’ve been using shuts down, or falls out of favor with your target audience, you’ll lose the community you’ve invested in and will be left with nothing.
Accepting these risks also means accepting the limitations of social media. Whilst you can customize your profile to some extent, the reality is that you have little control over the appearance of your company’s social media presence. This means there are limits to how you can communicate with your audience and market your business through design.
Likewise, you cannot personalize your profile and content based on different target audiences. Everything you post will be displayed in the same place on your page, so potential customers will have to search for the information that’s relevant to them – without a tailored approach, you’re likely to lose out on customers who can’t find what they’re looking for.
With your own website, you have total control. If social media is rented digital space, your website is your permanent digital home.
You have full ownership of all content, and can dictate how you connect with your target audience, whether this involves creating different landing pages to reach specific customer bases, or building user-friendly navigation menus that make it quick and simple for potential customers to find the information they’re looking for.
That’s because the appearance and design of your website is down to you, giving you the freedom to promote your business on the web exactly as required. A high-quality website also has the added benefit of boosting your reputation as a credible company, something that social media will not do.
This is because having your own professional online presence shows that you are willing to invest in your business and that you take it seriously, which will encourage customers to do the same. Having your own dedicated website is therefore essential to online success – but that is not to say that social media shouldn’t still play a role in marketing your business, as discussed in our next point.
2. Social media is a bridge between your customers and your company
If the measure of your online success is in turning members of your target audience into paying customers, then social media is only part of the journey – it is not the destination.
This is because social media should be used as a lead generator, with the ultimate goal of sending visitors to your website.
As your permanent online property, your website needs to be the home of all your content, and indeed, the center of all your online marketing efforts. When social media users visit your website, this will then give them the opportunity to see everything that you offer, learn more about it, and eventually convert to customers.
Your website is therefore the end point of your customer’s journey, as it is here that they will complete measurable actions such as buying your products, enquiring about your services, calling you directly, or signing up for further communication. Social media is merely a way of reaching out to these customers, and steering them in the right direction.
However, this does not mean that social media should be your only lead generator. After all, a diverse marketing strategy is the best marketing strategy of them all.
One of the most effective ways you’ll experience online success is by adapting a content-oriented approach. As the foundation of your online presence, your website needs to feature keyword-rich content that has been written with your target audience in mind. Regular blog posts and original SEO content will help your business to be searchable online, and will establish your authority and encourage customers to make return visits in the future.
Social media can then be used alongside other online marketing methods, such as email, to distribute this content and raise awareness.
A key advantage of adopting a broader, content-based means of promoting your business is that you stand to reach a greater number of people. This is because not all of your potential customers will use social media, so it is best not to limit yourself to this one form of communication.
Instead, by regularly creating search engine optimized content for your website, you’ll make your business easily accessible for just about anyone using the web. When your target audience run a search on Google for products and services like yours, your business website has a much higher chance of appearing in search results with a content marketing strategy in place.
This will help you to generate many more leads than you would through social media alone, as another drawback of social networks is that your follower base will mostly come from people actively searching for your profile because they know of your business already. A well optimized website, on the other hand, enables your business to be found by people who have never even heard of you, but who are looking online for the products and services you offer.
These are not the only factors limiting social media’s role as a marketing channel, as we explore in our next point.
3. Social media is offering a lower return on investment year on year
One of the key selling points of social media is that it provides a chance for brands to amplify their message, but unfortunately this is also one of its pitfalls – with so many voices clamoring for attention, it’s often a struggle to be heard.
Unless your business is a household name, it can be difficult to gain much traction on social media, and the time and effort involved to yield any real results is often greatly disproportionate to the payoff.
To make any sort of impact on social media, you would have to be posting multiple times a day, especially when you consider the short lifespan of any piece of content across various networks. From just 18 minutes to a couple of hours, your posts won’t hang around for long in the timelines of your followers, giving you a very small window to promote your business.
As we mentioned earlier, organic reach is also in decline. What this means is that it’s now getting harder and harder for businesses to reach potential customers, as the number of people being shown each post through unpaid distribution is rapidly shrinking.
Social media marketing is growing more competitive, and as a result many networks are evolving into paid marketing platforms in an effort to capitalize on the number of businesses using them to target customers. It is thought that organic reach will eventually come to a standstill as a result, and so if you want to experience the benefits of social media marketing, you’re going to have to invest in paid advertising to boost your posts and supplement your organic efforts.
The return on investment for social media advertising can often be quite low however, so it is important that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It can require a lot of time, effort, and money to make a difference, which is why it is best used in moderation as part of an all-embracing online marketing strategy.
A professional website will also require some effort on your behalf to keep it up to date and performing well, but this will be far less time-consuming than social media, and will also offer you a higher, and often more measurable, return on your investment.
So, by using social media alongside a professional website, SEO, blogging, email, and any other marketing tactics that apply to your business, you stand your best chance of succeeding on the web.
This way, you’ll have your own personal space on the internet acting as your 24/7 sales and marketing team, and you’ll be able to reach a wide range of people regardless of whether or not they’ve signed up to a social network. After all, with so many ways to communicate with your potential customers, there’s no need to restrict yourself to just one means of conversation.
For more information about social media marketing, read our blog post on 10 tactics to improve your social media strategy, and if you’re looking for your own website to promote your business online, get in touch with TheMillCreek.net today!