MARKETING MATTERS: IS SOCIAL NETWORKING A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING TOOL?

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TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS AND GROWTH

 

By Rama Beerfas

 

July 23, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Social networking seems to be the newest big thing in the marketing world. People are spending several hours per week (or day) updating their profiles, looking for connections,  tweeting, and more in the hopes of building their businesses.

 

While proclamations of marketing success due to social networking efforts abound, I am skeptical about the merit found in these claims. Yes, I am absolutely positive that there are a lucky few that have landed a great sale based on a connection they made through LinkedIn, or someone they “friended” on Facebook or something they tweeted about on Twitter. Nevertheless, the majority of us have not had this type of success.
 

Working with clients on their marketing plan, I have heard claims of great social networking success. When we drill down into the statistics of what was achieved, however, more often than not, the greatest success from these networking sites lies in the number of connections, friends and followers that have been amassed. Generally speaking, no actual personal contact with these people has been achieved – in fact, most of the people on these lists are completely unknown to the account holder. We are making “friends” with people that we have never met, don’t know, and will, in all likelihood never meet. In some cases, we will never even know their real name!
 

If one of your marketing goals is to grow your social networking fan base, then by all means, count this type of activity as a win. If, however, you are interested in more traditional business growth as defined by increased sales, customer loyalty, an expanded customer base and better branding, then perhaps more effort needs to be put into other marketing outlets. After all, you may have tens of thousands of people following you on Twitter, but if your business doesn’t turn a profit, can you really say that this is a successful marketing tool for you?
 

Don’t misunderstand, I do believe that social networking sites have a place within a comprehensive, well-thought out, integrated marketing plan. Active participation with people linking back to you and/or your posts are a great boost to your website rankings. These sites also give you the opportunity to brand your business at no cost to you. They can also be used to drive traffic to other marketing media in your arsenal (e.g. your website, a promotional event, a TV/radio/newspaper advertisement).
 

If social networking is a part of your overall marketing plan and your branding and message are consistent and professional within the parameters of those sites, then you can certainly glean some type of success from them. If, however, you just sit at your computer updating your sites and letting people know of your latest adventures in anticipation of your thousands of connections, friends, and followers to start doing business with you, then you may be in for a very long wait.
 

Rama Beerfas is Chief Solutions Specialist for San Diego-based Lev Promotions, offering marketing consulting, promotional products and more. Rama also offers seminars and training in marketing and customer service related topics. She can be reached at (619) 697-2045 or at rama@levpromotions.com or visit www.levpromotions.com. Column requests and comments are welcome.