When answering a small business owner’s quick question about what social media is all about, I came up with this explanation: “An average traditional website is like sitting and waiting for someone to find your shop, while social media is like attending a networking party where you can find those people you want to connect with.”
(Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying here that there is something wrong with having a website or that you shouldn’t have one, because I strongly suggest you do! Relying on 3rd party platforms only in your online business is very risky!)
The critical part here is: Whatever web presence you choose to have, it’s only doing marketing for you, if it gets found first! Right?
Before social media, business owners would set up their websites, tell their friends, advertise on papers and pay per clicks next to Google’s search results. Website visitors would search for your page using your keywords and find the most popular results with no problems. And all this worked ok.
That is until the number of websites and online content grew exponentially, ‘spammy’ pages started dominating search results and finding any real content became harder. Search engine optimisation became a field of expertise on its own, but not even great SEO can guarantee that your website is found. Why?
The way I look at it, there are a few requirements that have to be met before your website gets found:
- Your customers have to realise they need your product or service
- They have to believe a solution exists
- They have to look for a solution online
- They have to key in your keywords in the browsers search box
- And your page has to rank high enough to appear on the first page for any chance of the link to your website being clicked
Ticking all five boxes can be difficult especially if you are a small business owner just starting out in a brand new niche and no one has heard of you or the products and services you offer. You can be pretty sure that they are not looking for you and all your website can do for you is to ‘sit and wait’ until they hear about you through some other channel.
Well, that was before social media came along!
The beauty of social media is that business owners can abandon the ‘sit and wait’ strategy as their only option and start using some more proactive strategies – similar to attending a networking party:
- Reaching out and approaching your ideal clients and customers where they hang out
- Joining discussions, learning more about your customers and getting feedback
- Choosing who you want to invite to take a look at what you offer (And no, this does not include spamming every possible business page on Facebook with links to your page.)
- Building relationships and staying in your customers’ mind, so that when they need your services, your page is the one they are likely to visit, because they already know you, like you and trust you.
And it really doesn’t even matter how big or small your business or marketing budget is. Clever ideas, being real and helping others are the currency on social media. It is a much more equal playing field for all!