Back to Basics – With a Virtual Twist
By Cindi Alpert
I remember not too long ago I posted something on my business Facebook page and 30 percent of my fans would comment. Now I’d be lucky to get five “likes” unless there is a contest going on or some silly photos from a recent event. The landscape of social media has drastically changed in the last three years from an efficient and inexpensive way to get the word out to a virtual mess of self promotion, offers, notifications, invites, and event pages. It brings to mind an uncomfortable situation that took place recently.
I ran into an acquaintance who was clearly disappointed in me that I missed her party. She gave me the stink eye in front of some other friends and asked me straight out, “Did you not get my Facebook invite?” Here’s a word to the wise. If you send me a Facebook invite, I will probably never see it or just forget about it altogether. Send me a real paper invitation. Not only will I respond, but I’ll put it on my refrigerator AND bring a bottle of wine. I realize I just sounded like the late beloved curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, but I’m just being honest.
Facebook has become as common as email. Every business now must have one. Like it or not, it has become a necessary part of doing business. However, one of the most recent changes that came with little fanfare is the new “promote” button for status updates on company pages. The promote button gives page owners an option to pay for more exposure and increase the likelihood that posts will be seen by more of their network. It has been explained to me that the number of people who see brand posts is determined by an algorithm based on who regularly visits your page, likes your posts, and comments. Those people will be the most likely to see your posts in the newsfeed. In other words, your posts are only accessible to 5-10 percent of your followers. Those fans that do not regularly interact with your posts will most likely never see your posts, making it difficult to reach new customers or even existing customers who are too busy to search out your page and comment regularly.
A client of mine recently shared her frustration with social media with me. She said she spends three or more hours a day posting and interacting and gets very little back in terms of response. I refer to this as “the fool’s gold” trap. There was a time when we all thought this free form of promotion was the Holy Grail of advertising and would save us money. You feel like you are really helping your business by spending so much time posting, liking, and sharing, when all that time you could be doing more effective things to market your business. In other words, I feel like I’d reach more people if I threw on a t-shirt with my logo and walked up and down Kingston Pike. The funny thing is that I’d probably get more honks than “likes” in three hours. I’m not saying it is a waste of time to interact using social media, but if you think it is the only thing you have to do to promote your business, you are missing the virtual and actual boat and swimming in some very choppy water.
This is why I always come back to traditional media. It almost sounds strange to me that radio, TV, and print is referred to as such, but these are the times we live in. As much as we seem to chase a moving target when it comes to marketing, one thing remains constant: people still turn on the TV, they still listen to the radio, and they still pick up magazines. With traditional media, people are going to see or hear your ad whether they want to or not. There is no algorithm determining who sees or hears your message. I like to think of TV and radio as pleasantly intrusive.
The questions most business owners have are how do we blend traditional media and social media to create effective media campaigns and, most importantly, sell our products or services? What good is a creative, well-planned, and exciting Facebook contest if no one knows about it except for the same five people who comment on your posts? How do you get new people to your page?
Tina Courtney, owner of CMC Marketing, had this to say about the subject: “Creating relevant content and cross-referencing with other social media venues has been successful for the growth and engagement of the Facebook pages that I manage. I always include the Facebook links, and others, in my traditional marketing. It’s been my experience that a well-researched and creatively executed social-media marketing plan along with traditional marketing is a necessity for making your business successful. After all, the goal is to put you in front of as many people with an interest in what you have to offer as possible. Make your business a part of the community at large and online. Keep it fresh, real, and informative!”
Whether it’s 1972 or 2012, it is still name recognition and customer service that pays off whether it is through traditional or social media. As my pop always says, “Get your head out of your FACEPOD and go sell something face to face.” I think he and Andy Rooney would have been fast friends. The bottom line is the savvy business owner will figure out a happy medium between the two, where one drives the other. The best thing to do is to keep on talking, face to face, on the phone, on the radio, on the TV, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in the magazines… and give people a reason to “like” you.