Is Social Media Valuable for Businesses?

Businesses should be intelligently involved in social media networks but it should replace other proven marketing strategies. You just have to find the right “social media expert.”

Business Insider posted an article by Peter Shankman completely ripping apart “social media experts.” Here’s a brief excerpt from his article:

Being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.

While Peter definitely makes many valid points in his article, I think that it is unfair to completely downplay the role of social media as a marketing strategy. It’s also unfair to assume that all people who specialize in social media for companies lack business sense. Sure, blindly entering the social media landscape without clear goals is pointless. It can even be detrimental when hiring a social media expert who “can’t string a simple sentence together.”

But as more and more people use different social media outlets on such a regular basis, it would be foolish to ignore the potential for new and more loyal customers. At the very least, social media is about brand recognition. Simply interacting, in a constructive way, with different communities increases company awareness. Arguing that all social media is worthless is similar to arguing against, say, magazine ads that feature people laughing and partying rather than focusing on the product or brand. Everything works towards the image of the brand. Hell, one of the most iconic television commercials simply featured a woman throwing a sledgehammer at a large TV screen.

I’m not saying that you should start pouring all of your marketing funds into simply interacting in social media communities. But it can be used as a good tool in addition to tried and true marketing strategies. Having an adverse stance to hiring a knowledgeable individual to get your company involved in widely used social media websites is similar to having a stance against email marketing in the mid-90’s.

A “social media expert” should be a mash-up of numerous roles within a company. Not only should they be aware and active in online communities, but they should also have marketing skills, sales skills, copy writing experience, and a customer service background. A proper social media presence for business should have the ability to make sales as well as relevantly assist current and potential customers. Business may be all about the money, but social media allows companies to get personal. Every individual client counts.

At the end of the day, running a business really is all about making money. If you lose sight of this goal, then you really are being brainwashed by the people taking advantage of this second internet bubble. When your “social media expert” starts begging the twitter-verse for new followers, it’s time to let him/her go. But when you use twitter to reach out to people who are already discussing your business or to create a more personal relationship with existing customers, then you’re starting to tap into the potential of this new medium.

People “follow” and “like” companies for a reason: they want to be involved. To ignore this obvious opportunity would be a shame.

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