A few days ago, Peter Shankman wrote a post lambasting all “social media experts” as irrelevant and worthy of dying in a fire. So Peter….you don’t like ‘em, eh?
But if you read through his post, it seems clear that he actually thinks that social media activity is important, he just doesn’t like the way it’s often done: he doesn’t like when marketers aren’t transparent, are irrelevant, can’t write, and don’t know their customer. Oh, and he also thinks marketers shouldn’t forget about the end goal of making money while engaged in all the social media coolness. Well, anyone who conducts marketing activities like that is not only a poor social media marketer; they are a terrible marketing professional and should find another profession. ASAP.
So let’s assume that most people involved in social media marketing on a professional level have half a brain and understand the basics of marketing: if the goal of marketing is to make money, is social media the way to go? Studies repeatedly show that the online marketing activities with the best ROI are search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing. Social media comes in way after them. So how is the social media frenzy justified?
Social Media is the new Website
It is hard to prove that websites make money for companies. I don’t mean ecommerce sites, but sites that say who the company is, what they do, etc. Yes, these types of websites can be optimized for conversions, but in many cases they’re not. And even if they are, do the few clients who were directly and measurably converted by the website (i.e. they contacted the company via a form on the site and eventually became a customer) justify the costs of maintaining a good corporate site? The answer is yes: websites are important, and it’s accepted that every company and organization needs one. The reason for that is that it serves an important supportive role in sales – it’s an important stage that potential customers go through to assess whether a company is right for them. Social media marketing is approaching that same level – an important supportive element in marketing and sales, that potential customers, and existing customers, seek out.
Social Media Makes SEO and Email Marketing Better
Social media activity is increasingly being shown to be an important signal in a site’s ranking; it can also be a relatively large source of traffic to a site (which is generally the goal of SEO – to increase traffic to a site). Social media “outposts” can also help you increase your email marketing mailing list by encouraging people to sign up, and sharing past newsletters.
Social Media is the New “New”
Social media marketing is so new, and changing all the time (thanks facebook), that it’s impossible to know where it’s headed and what the potential really is. The only way to find out is to test, and then test some more. Like in every other area of online marketing, discovering new opportunities demands a few brave souls who are willing to risk their marketing budget and take the plunge. They’re definitely not idiots: they’re trailblazers. They should be applauded, not ridiculed. This is a necessary part of innovation.
Social media is not just a cool new toy – it’s a new and important part of the web. And people who understand it – as part of the online marketing mix – will be hired.