As a woman business leader and founder of a strategic communications company, I work with my team to develop concentrated marketing campaigns for clients on a regular basis. As communications experts, we obviously focus on every aspect of strategic communications, including social media, in its various platforms. But even with all the “buzz” about social media, I agree with what Joe Pulizzi said in his recent blog– social media is a great marketing tool, but it should be used in addition to your website, not in place of it.
He cites ideas gathered from a book by Shama Kabani, who has some great reasons why companies should never abandon their websites in favor of social media marketing. I agree, and I think Shama’s points are so well thought-out that I wanted to share them with you here:
- Consumers may use social media to get initial reviews about your company or product, but your website is where they will make the final decision. I think Shama makes a very good point when she says, “Your website is the place where you SELL your products and services. Social media is the place where you introduce a potential customer to your brand.”
- Your website is owned and controlled by you. Social media platforms aren’t owned or controlled by anyone! I don’t know if any of you have had your Facebook or Twitter accounts shut down for some unknown reason, but I have. And I can tell you it’s not fun. Shama is right when she says that the only thing you have complete control over is your website, so keep that in mind.
- Social media is a great way to amplify your brand. I agree with Shama’s observation, “For something to be amplified, it has to exist first.” What she means is that your brand needs to be identifiable and accessible somewhere first, and only then can its existence be built upon through social media.
- Your targeted marketing efforts are delivered to the audiences YOU choose. With social media, it’s the other way around. I understand Shama’s point when she notes that social media sometimes delivers a “partial” message and not the whole story. Social media buzz about a particular event might not give important details (for instance - no one under 21 can attend), whereas a targeted marketing campaign is designed to reach a specific audience (like an e-mail blast sent individuals over-21 who responded to a survey, for instance).
- Social media is a great viral promotional tool, but it’s not very deep. I think we can all agree on this point. How detailed can you get in 140 characters? It’s a challenge and not easy to do, so use social media as an opportunity to link to your website, your YouTube channel, downloadable content and more. You’ll engage consumers further and draw them into your brand.
I think you should definitely use social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and other emerging social media platforms to “assist” you in your brand marketing. But I also believe it would be a huge mistake to ignore what should really be the centerpiece of your corporate brand: your website.