the art of social media for business part 1
Understanding the difference between social media types and how to leverage them for your digital marketing is the single most critical skill in modern day business promotion. This series breaks down the How's and Why's.
Author: Frank Wazeter, Dec. 2, 2020
There is a seemingly endless list of social media out there these days. Once upon a time, you had MySpace and this quirky little start up that permeated from college dorm to college dorm throughout the country (I’m talking about Facebook). Now the short list of social media that you have to care about is almost a mile long.
Let’s try and take a crack at the list:
...and a dozen more I’m probably being forgetful about.
Oh, yeah, and then Podcasting platforms like Apple iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Spotify...
Plus, all kinds of specialty social media that pop up from your industry or specific world view, like Parler for conservatives and deviant art for artists.
But, with the de facto advice being you should post daily at least to build an audience (which is particularly brutal when you’re starting out with no followers, since you’re broadcasting to crickets) and the fact that every single social media has its own special quirks in community and engagement, it gets really overwhelming really fast.
As a business owner, you might just be saying “I only want to do Facebook” or we’ll try “Facebook and Instagram” and if you’re being honest, you probably don’t want to bother with any of it and just ‘get business.’
Except at this point, with the development of the internet the way it is, and the way that modern business building and business development works, you’ve got no choice but to put yourself out there on social media.
What’s the fundamental benefit of social media for business owners?
Listen, social media may be a pain to deal with, scratch that, it is a pain to deal with. But you’d rather take this era of business building over any other era.
Before the widespread influence of the internet, in the dark ages before Google and broadband (that’s high speed internet for you young people) and a thousand other modern conveniences, the only way to build business was in a very physical, very ‘put in the elbow grease’ kind of way.
If you wanted to get new business, you had to be in the Yellow Pages. Without a listing in the Yellow Pages, you just had zero chance of getting phone calls, because everyone referenced the YP to find phone numbers of who to call, whether it was to order a pizza, get a plumber or find a computer repair person.
The bigger ad you had in the Yellow Pages, the more ‘chance’ you had to get a call, elsewise the more A’s you could add to your name, the higher chance that you’d “rank first” in the Yellow Pages for your section (as everything was alphabetical), which probably explains why so many older Chinese Restaurants are named something like AAAAA Chinese Restaurant.
That was the world’s first ‘search engine optimization’ in practice right there.
But what did you do beyond the Yellow Pages? Well, you could pay big bucks to be on ‘main street’ and be physically located where the most traffic went (like, actual car and foot traffic), which is still applicable today in real life.
Beyond that, you could pay for billboard ads, radio ads, TV ads if you were super sophisticated and newspaper advertisements. All of which cost thousands and had no ‘free’ version and took at least 3 months before you had any chance whatsoever of a result (which you also couldn’t track, you just had to have faith that the ‘billboard produced leads’).
Outside of those things, the way you built a business was good old fashioned networking, in person hustling, and having as many salesmen doing cold calling or door knocking as you could possibly afford in order to reach as many people as humanly possible.
That was it. That was all you could do. It didn’t matter if you were a billion dollar company or a dead broke small business. Your options to grow required your physical presence somewhere physically hustling, spending huge amounts of money to move the needle even a little bit.
The Rise of the Internet
The internet began changing this dynamic. Suddenly you could have a website, connected to this big network of computers, where other people could also view your website, from their home or from clear across the country. It could be anywhere!
Problem was, if someone didn’t know your immediate domain name (your website url), then they couldn’t find you. You still had to manually promote your website and try to get people to find it the old fashioned way.
Search engines began popping up to solve some of these problems, so that people could discover new sites based on what they were looking for that matched the criteria, but things were still incredibly clunky and rudimentary.
You had to search using special codes to properly do the search, it wasn’t really location based and there weren’t many sites of quality to really go through. Finding something like a bakery in your home town just wouldn’t be likely to happen because odds were great that the bakery didn’t have a website and if it did it probably wasn’t set up very well.
The first websites out there were bad. Period. Nobody really was taking any kind of useability seriously (and if we’re being honest, most websites are bad to this day).
As a result, many business owners ignored having a website for a long time because to get them required a lot of technical implementation, with a crowd that, while growing exponentially using the internet, was still struggling to catch relevance to the nearby areas.
Without a source of traffic, your website isn’t doing you any good because nobody is seeing it. It’d be like if you put your store on some weird backroad somewhere instead of on main street. Yes, the rent might be cheap, but you sure aren’t attracting customers ‘organically.’
The evolution and increasing sophistication of search engines like Google helped this out tremendously and to this day remain incredibly crucial sources of traffic and accurate information on finding what you’re looking for. However, there was only a short while in the history of search where it was easy to rank for keywords. Try doing it now and it’s a multi-month if not multi-year endeavor that requires quite a bit of sophistication and technical expertise.
Enter Social Media - Where the internet collides with human nature.
Then, finally, came along social media. Social media at first was pretty simply: you effectively had your own little miniature website (your profile), with crucial information (name, location, birthdate, about, phone numbers), that took less than 5 minutes to set up. No big complicated technical stuff required, the company handles that for you.
Now the crucial part, their primary purpose wasn’t commerce, but connection. Sharing what you were doing, tapping into that primal human need to connect and communicate as part of a tribe. It became like high school popularity contests all over again, just this time, on the internet.
It didn’t take long for Facebook to hit a billion users and penetrate the globe. Facebook, founded in 2004, hit a billion users in October 2012….8 years to be so incredibly effective at connecting people that literally one out of every 6 people on the planet has a Facebook account. In 2017, that number hit two billion. In 2020, Facebook has 2.7 billion...almost doubling AGAIN.
But it wasn’t just Facebook, it was YouTube (videos), currently at 2 billion people, twitter with 330 million active users per month, (and 145 million of those active daily), 1 billion instagram users, and 760 million Linkedin users..and well, if you can’t find your customer on any one of these platforms, you’re really bad at marketing and connecting or haven’t tried at all.
What these social media sites became were sites that fundamentally help connect people together, what that means for the business owner is, they help drive traffic to you. It’s literally the way that people are able to discover and find your business, determine what they need to know about you to make purchasing decisions and discover your assets like your website.
The Bottom Line is, Social Media is a Growth Accelerator
The era of the internet, and the rise of social media benefits you in one crucial way: you can reach more people, for cheaper, in more places, than ever before. You aren’t gated behind a regional location. You aren’t gated by who you know personally and you aren’t limited by your immediate budget requiring tens of thousands of dollars to advertise.
The big “what's in it for me” of any social media network is that you gain access to traffic, access to people, that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to or be able to reach as easily. It turns small local businesses into the potential to be regional and national power houses.
But you have to engage. You have to get over the fact that figuring out content, building an audience and building a network takes time just like it does in real life. You have to get over the fact that it’s going to be annoying to learn, and you’ll have to sit through the fact that you have zero followers and no one liking your stuff.
Because having a digital presence is the way of doing business in 2020 and beyond. If you aren’t doing business digitally you’re a dinosaur that should probably have a retirement plan in order. Literally.
A digital presence means having a website. It means having a presence on as many social media as you can possibly put in to reach as many new customers as you can, and yes, mixing that up with some advertising to expand the reach even further.
Without that, you’re just putting your head in the sand and wishing and hoping your business magically grows.
We’re going to continue to break down how social media works, where you should invest your time, how to leverage your content to get more posts and ultimately how to tie it all together, so don’t worry too much, just sit back, relax and enjoy.
We already figured out the hard part for you, so you don’t have to.