Unless you’ve been living under a rock like those guys in that great GEICO commercial, you’ve heard how social media is changing the world. And while it certainly is impacting how people spend their free (and not-so-free) time, social media is still in its early stages when it comes to business. Even as new as it is, there are already a few business-related social media statements that we can make with confidence…
1. social media can help brands communicate with current and potential customers
2. social media can quickly help ruin a brand’s reputation
The statement “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” was true before social media. It’s even easier now. “News” spreads like wildfire over the web (especially bad news). For the foreseeable future social media will be important to every brand, even if they aren’t actively participating in it, because it is where people are freely speaking and, more importantly, listening. To manage your business reputation, you need to stay on top of what is being said about your company in social media and you need to be able to react fairly quickly.
But, as important as social media is becoming, not every customer of your business will find you through social media or a Google search. Traditional forms of marketing are still very, very powerful. So while it is easy for companies to get caught up in the social media race, ignoring other marketing methods is a big risk.
Take the other night for example. My family really likes a certain company’s “stuffed crust” pizza but this night we felt like trying something new. Did we Google “best pizza in Tenleytown”? Or did we go on one of the social review sites to find out what people were saying about the local pizza talent? No. Although those were options, there is something about blindly following someone else’s advice that doesn’t sit well with me. And since a lot of the reviews on certain sites are coming from a fairly small pool of voices, perhaps the latest reviewer just doesn’t like what I like. That’s actually more likely to be true than not. You see, the pizza I enjoy most in this entire world (a white pizza with Fontina from the Pines of Rome in Bethesda), my wife Ece doesn’t like one bit! So when it comes to food, I would much rather form my own opinion. This evening I chose to order from a local place that took the time to create and mail us a full color menu. It was an attractive looking piece with high resolution photos of the food. (We’ve all seen this strategy fail miserably when the food looks HORRIBLE, but this was not one of those times.) I love New York style pizza and the pics of that greasy, thin crust really tempted my tongue. We ended up having a delicious meal from a place that we would never have discovered except for their mailer. It probably cost $1 to print and mail this piece and it got them a customer for life. What $1 of social media marketing efforts buys (today or ever) is a mystery.
My point is that if your business depends upon impulse decisions from potential customers (or some of your audience is not even using social media), they may be more likely to make those decisions as a result of traditional marketing. People that research every company they may do business with on a review site are not impulsive. But these folks are not in the majority. A large percentage of the population make the bulk of their decisions impulsively. Many of us just get attracted to something and buy it. So how do local businesses get the attention of these pleasure-seeking folks? Window signs and banners, mailers, door hangers, flyers. Eye catching things. These items have the potential to take somebody who was not even interested in your product and turn him into a customer. And that is a pretty neat concept.
What do you think is a good blend of social media marketing and traditional marketing? Let us hear your thoughts below…