By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
There’s no question that social media have become a major channel for marketing, public relations and customer service. For most businesses large and small, having some kind of social media presence, along with a website, is a must. However, most businesses are not all businesses, and perhaps you’re wondering whether social media is where you need to be. The answer is—I bet you’re already ahead of me—it depends. Let me tell you why.
It depends on what you expect to accomplish by using social media. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and to some extent Twitter are great tools for establishing and promoting your brand, extending your reach, attracting the interest of new potential clients, and demonstrating your expertise. If you expect to win a lot of new projects using social media, then you are going to be disappointed. Social media is about establishing relationships, not necessarily landing sales, though it does generate leads. Think of it as online networking.
It depends on how you go about using social media. Like any kind of marketing, you need to start with a plan. You want to be clear on what you hope to accomplish, your goals, and how much time and resources you are willing to commit to achieve the desired result. Anyone can quickly set up a Facebook page or upload a bunch of images to Instagram or Pinterest. To attract attention, you need a strong brand identity (and standards), high quality professional images, a clear message, and captivating content. Remember, there’s a lot of competition out there, so you need to be able to demonstrate what makes you unique.
It depends on whether you are engaged or just sharing your business card. Social media sites are fast moving and ever changing. They thrive on novelty and trends. A Facebook page that gets updated once a month is like a listing in the Yellow Pages—static. The chances of someone finding and contacting you are serendipitous at best. You have to be a constant contributor, interact with others, and stay current. Someone who comes to your Facebook page and sees no activity for the past month or two is likely to assume you are no longer in business. You don’t have to post every day (unless you’re trying to create a lot of buzz on Twitter), but at least once or twice a week.
It depends on whether you are looking for a quick return or are in it for the long run. Like being the new kid in town, it takes time to establish a reputation as someone whose content is worth checking out. If you click with a certain group of followers, however, attention can snowball quickly. Consistency, quality, patience and tweaking as needed are key to social media success.
On the other hand, if you rely primarily on referrals and personal contacts for client development, are not interested in taking on projects outside your immediate area, are satisfied with your current level of business, believe that marketing is a waste of time and money, are intimidated by technology or the idea of having an online presence, or are worried about competitors or DIYers stealing your designs, then social media is not for you. After all, social media sites are just tools, and if those tools do not work with your business model, then don’t use them. Be consistent if you do use social media.
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