Social Media hype or a must for businesses?

As many of you who follow Bright Light Marketing on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/pages/Bright-Light-Marketing/214267680357 or Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/brightlightmkg.  I am rather addicted to Social Media and have been for sometime.  So much so that the kids and my husband have a song that they sing to me regularly

“Facebooking it’s only Fiona Drane typing on her iPhone all day long.”

I love both Facebook and Twitter (and my Iphone) and readily admit that my family is correct I am a Social Media convert and addict and the more I use both mediums the more I see the benefits both personally and for business.  However it wasn’t always the case when Facebook and Twitter first came on the scene I was very skeptical about it.  One of the job’s of a marketer is to keep up and forsee forthcoming trends and although I wasn’t sure if social media was for me on a personal basis I could see that it was going to be a key tool for the future.  I wanted to know about it so I could evaluate and see whither it would be a tool that clients could use.  So I did what I always do when I want to learn.  I usually do one of two things go on a course and read a book.  In this case I did both I went on a course and read a book.  Both course and book changed the way that I viewed social media and I went from skeptic to convert virtually overnight and from there to addict.  So I have been a social media addict since 2009!

However I have got used to the fact that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the medium and I have got used to clients and potential clients when I first mention Social Media looking at me with some reservations.  Asking what benefit will it be for them?  Plus why should they use it when Social Media is for young people and their clients are in the older category?  Well as I do face to face with clients I am going to mention in this blog article how social media is beneficial.  But to clarify the younger age view this is simply not true both Facebook and Twitter have significant and growing use in the 30 plus market as the following link shows.  http://www.flowtown.com/blog/social-media-demographics-whos-using-which-sites?display=wide

So with the age argument out-of-the-way what are the benefits of Social Media to businesses?  Well as you have probably gathered I am passionate about the benefits of social media for small businesses.  I was delighted when I attended a South of Scotland Innovation workshop last week to discover that the Lecturer in Marketing David Moyes of the University of the West of Scotland shared my views that Social Media is big for small businesses.  So what are some of the benefits?

Firstly it is free for businesses any business can set up a Facebook business page or a Twitter page and get started on their social media journey.  I would recommend that you do a course or ask a company like Bright Light Marketing to start you on your journey with tips and recommendations taking you through the process so you are ready to fly solo as it were.  All it takes is time and some effort to join in the conversation and you have a cost-effective and if you do it right targeted way of promoting your business.  That should get any small business to sign up straight away it certainly is a major reason why I am so keen to recommend it.

Another benefit of Social Media is that it will draw traffic to your website and if you are targeted in how you set this up these visitors will be  people who you want to become potential customers so you want to draw them to your website.  Google loves companies who use Social Media and it will increase your rankings on search engines thereby again drawing people to your website.

So two key benefits of using Social Media are that it is free to use and it will draw traffic to your website.  A marketing tool that is effective, targeted, will draw traffic to your website and is free?  Makes it fairly unique doesn’t it?  Word of mouth is and will always be the best way to get people to buy from you but you could argue that Social Media has the potential to be a close second.

Why?   Well actually social media is word of mouth online and is all about conversation which is why it is an effective marketing tool.  So let me give you some examples.

Holidays?  Your business is  in tourism well they are talking about holidays on Social Media.  We booked a holiday at Easter.  As a family we were quite clear we wanted to go to the West Coast of Scotland the property (self catering) had to be fairly large, be pet friendly with preferably a view of the sea and access to a beach.  We googled various options and looked at various sites and decided that we were going to try Kintyre.  Next step I mentioned this on Twitter and asked people’s opinions and got lots of feedback on the area.  We continued our google search but we couldn’t find a house large enough so I tweeted again asking for website options.  I was sent various links to potential websites and we found the place that we booked.  It’s large, pet friendly, looks to the sea with close proximity to a beach.  Thanks to Twitter.  People are having conversations about holidays and if you are a tourism business you want to be part of it.

Equally if you are a retailer people are having conversations about what they are reading, eating and buying.  I am an avid reader and regularly tweet with people about the books that I have read.  I bought two business books as a result of recommendations on Twitter.  My local bookshop tweeted that the new Rosmund Lupton book had arrived.  I loved her first book Sister so I went that afternoon and bought it.  Our recent Food and Craft Fayre in St Boswells https://fionadranesblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/from-lawyer-to-baker/was publicised via Facebook and Twitter and people came and bought at the event because of that. I know beacuse I sold bread to them.   We have worked with a local retailer who has found that people come into their shop to buy shoes that have been promoted on Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook in particular is a great way of showing photographs of stock and encouraging people to buy.  A good example of this is Boden https://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/JohnnieBoden.  We have also worked with Food retailers both mail order and high street retailers who have found that it sells their product.

So Social Media is ideal for tourism businesses, retailers, food and drink and many other companies.  Perhaps like Bright Light Marketing you are a professional service company and feel that social media may work for your clients and not for you?  Why?  People are talking about who to use for an accountant, lawyer, vet, architect you name it.  And you won’t get any business if you are not using Social Media.  And if you do nothing you should use LinkedIn as an extension of your networking.

And finally but importantly Social Media is great on a personal basis I love it for business but I also love it to keep in touch with family and friends.  I keep in touch with my cousins and their families and can see their kids growing up.  My in-laws live four hours away and are often away on business.  Yet every day via Facebook they know what their grandchildren are doing and see photos of them on a regular basis.  So Fiona Drane will continue to have her family sing to her

Facebooking it’s only Fiona Drane typing on her iPhone all day long”.

Why because I enjoy it, I get business from it and it brings business to my clients.

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About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. www.brightlightmarketing.co.uk. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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