For most businesses, social media audiences have to be grown and cultivated

For most businesses, social media audiences have to be grown and cultivated

Once in a while I hear, “I do all of my advertising on Facebook.” Or, feel free to add in the social media of your choice. This is akin to the printed directory service that once told me in a sales pitch, “With our directory, you don’t have to do any other advertising.” As an informed marketer, I responded with, “If that is the case, then why is your company advertising on the radio?”

Yes, there is a place for social media. I am not against it at all. There are those who have a large following and use it effectively. They have a specific market and target to their customers.

In the early to mid-1900s, radio had shows – comedy, drama, news, sports and other events. So when television gained popularity in the 1950s, radio was rumored to become obsolete. Television was also going to put the cinema houses out of business. Radio adapted. Movie theaters still exist. Even television has changed a lot. We have more avenues of entertainment and news than ever before, and they’re all viable. Social media has its place in this media mix.

There is a scene in the movie “Field of Dreams” where Kevin Costner’s character is walking through a cornfield and a whisper comes in as a voiceover saying, “If you build it, he will come.” I think of this scene when I hear people talking about their social media sites because the phrase from the movie runs contrary to creating a social media site. For most businesses, social media audiences have to be grown and cultivated. Audiences won’t just flock to the site because it is there. Building the site is planting the seed. Like any storefront business, social media needs traffic. It needs followers. Keep an eye on the number of people who are followers or subscribe. This number needs to grow. The messages that are sent out to the audience must have meaning.

I pause when I hear “I do all of my advertising on Facebook” because there is a large untapped market that is not seeing the posts. And, like the sales representative for the directory service, it’s not truly the whole story.

Social media allows a business to connect with its customers in a way that some of the other media cannot. Conversations can be started on social media. As potential customers get answers to questions that are posted, others can follow along in the conversation. Questions are helpful to businesses because it shows there where there may be a lack of communication when promoting their product or service. Where one person will post a question, there are many who have the same question and may not be comfortable asking in a public forum.

If you are checking out a business or service online through social media, allow for a margin of error in the ratings. Not everyone who has experience with a business will rate it. Poor ratings are always a challenge because the general viewer will never know the whole story. It’s also a challenge for the business to find out why it may have received a poor rating so that it can talk to the dissatisfied customer and made an appropriate course correction. My preference before giving a company a poor rating is to call and talk to an owner or manager about my experience to give them an opportunity to have a private conversation about what happened. Most of the time, this works well.

Regardless of the social media platform, it takes time to grow. It has to be fed with postings, nurtured with relevance, and be seen blooming in a field which has many other sites competing for attention. Work with it, pay close attention to it, and you will reap the benefits of it.

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