The Twitter and FaceBook Marketing Myth

How many times in the last two years have you heard people tell you that if you are going to market online today, you HAVE to use Twitter and FaceBook? How many times have you heard people extolling the virtues of those two platforms for marketing a business?

I’ve got news for you. EVERY SINGLE PERSON who says that is SELLING something to do with Marketing on Twitter or FaceBook. They have motive to tell you that.

The truth is, Twitter and FaceBook are both VERY POOR marketing mediums. They both violate one of the most important rules of marketing:

Put your message in front of an audience who is likely to be interested in buying what you are selling.

People on FaceBook or Twitter, for the most part, are NOT THERE as consumers. They are there to party. So unless you are selling Red Solo Cups, it isn’t going to be a highly effective method for marketing.

There. I said it. I expect I’ll get a storm of denials from people who are selling FaceBook and Twitter marketing services. But my clients generally agree with me, and they are real business people, selling the typical products and services around which business in the US largely revolves.

Five years ago, we were able to tell our clients to go to forums and sites where people congregated who were interested in the general topics around which the client’s product or service revolved. For us, that meant we would go to small business forums, and we’d chime in with helpful information regarding website and marketing. We gained an entire client base this way. Literally hundreds of good, solid clients came our way through this means of marketing.

Enter FaceBook and Twitter. Exit most forums. The business forums simply dried up. They went away, and NOTHING came in to replace them. Oh, some people may disagree, but the few that are left are lethargic at best, and pretty much a waste of time.

You can spend and awful lot of time talking to nobody, with the illusion that someone is listening, but it won’t help your business grow. And right now, you have the choice of participating in old forums where nobody IS, or participating in new social media where EVERYBODY is talking, EVERYBODY is there, but nobody is LISTENING.

So now we have a disappearance of an incredibly effective marketing tool, and the replacement of it with a social tool. Sure, you can reach a LOT of people on FaceBook. But they are NOT targeted listeners. They are there to party, and if your marketing messages interfere with their party, they’ll just tune you out. They have short attention spans, and are looking for distraction, not for practical help in their lives.

FaceBook users are basically two types:

The ones who are addicted to it. They use FaceBook as an online party, where they go to simulate real life. They want distraction, and they want things to keep moving. They have NO attention span, they do not want to have to act on ANYTHING, and they like freebies. They are quick to subscribe to pages – in fact, most of them have SO MANY on their lists that there is no way they could ever keep up with them all. They are equally quick to forget what they just subscribed to, and to turn it off in their feed.

Those who use it for business, family, or friends, to keep in touch, but who limit the amount of time each day that they spend there. They are going to unsubscribe from anything that wastes their time, they won’t be there to be marketed to, and they’ll skim over things and get to the stuff from people that they know. If they KNOW you personally, they’ll sometimes leave your page feed visible. But if they don’t know you personally, they probably won’t even subscribe.

If you get past that, and actually get subscribers to your page, the chores have only just begun. You can post to the wall on that page, and you can work at getting more and more subscribers. But that isn’t the same thing as getting CUSTOMERS. Because most of them do NOT want to listen to the sales pitch. They want you to bring the drinks to the party instead. And if you do, they MIGHT like them enough to buy them later – but most of them won’t. Most of them will just go looking for the next free drink instead. And you’ll have to give away a LOT of drinks just to sell a few.

If you HAVE a FaceBook page, you have to post things to it on a regular basis, or it won’t help you sell anything. Posting ads won’t be effective, your prospects will ignore them. Remember, they are there to party. The big companies hold contests, do giveaways, and are constantly offering “fun stuff”. They aren’t exactly bringing drinks to the party, but they are bringing pencils and a fun little word puzzle. Cheap stuff. Lots of it. An endless flow of trivial little bits of distraction for an audience with the attention span of a gnat.

For a small business, keeping up with a constant stream of that kind of thing is EXHAUSTING! Especially since the return is so low. And the return IS low.

When we ask our clients if they are using FaceBook or Twitter as a marketing tool, most say yes. When we ask them if they have ever made a sale that they knew resulted from FaceBook or Twitter, they say no.

As a direct marketing tool, they are pretty much useless for 99% of businesses in the US. Oh, don’t comment with hot denials unless you are using FaceBook and Twitter for a business that is NOT involved in selling services related to FaceBook and Twitter, AND you can verifiably show that you are GETTING active customers or clients from them.

So what is the answer? Do they have a place in current marketing?

I think they do. But it is not in having a cute and active FaceBook page, or in posting to Twitter every half hour with your latest product. Honestly, those two things are probably nothing more than a waste of your time.

Both can be used in developing relationships. Every once in a while, a conversation will allow you to share your expertise, and at that time, it may benefit your business. But this is weak, and circumstantial at best.

The real reason to USE them for business has to do with search engines. They now index websites higher if they are mentioned on FB or Twitter. And they also rank sites higher if they are LINKED to a site mentioned there. I do NOT recommend trying to game the system here – but if you are smart, you can use it in natural ways, to cover a lot of ground with a few simple tasks each week.

1. Create a blog. Post to the blog one or two times per week. It does not matter WHAT you write, as long as it is YOUR writing, and NOT someone else’s. It must be completely and totally unique and original. The more interesting it is the better. The more it relates to your lines of business, the better. But there is NO NEED to have a separate blog for each topic, that will just make you neurotic because it will be too much to keep up with. One good solid multi-purpose blog is sufficient.

2. Feed your blog into Twitter. This will create a post automatically every time you post to your blog. But it will also give you the ability to feed your blog into ANYTHING that accepts a Twitter feed.

3. Feed Twitter into FaceBook and LinkedIn. Just feed it into your FaceBook profile. A FaceBook page for your business isn’t really necessary, and it isn’t even helpful for about half or more of business owners (you have to have a purpose for it if you want it to be successful). Now your blog goes into FB and LinkedIn, automatically.

4. Feed your blog into your website, into the sidebar, IF the topics you cover on the blog are relevant to the website. If they aren’t, then skip this. This does NOT help your search engine rankings! But it does provide a way to make use of your content to inform your website visitors. It can also increase calls and emails if you put the feed right below a Contact Us box, with a phone number, and a link to your contact form, because recent blog posts indicate that someone LIVE and REAL is behind the site, and it encourages people to call.

5. Link your website to your blog – put it in the blogroll, in a category called Related Sites, or My Websites, or something like that.

6. If you have more than one website, you can interlink all of them. Again, just create a box called Related Sites, or Our Other Websites, or something like that, and put a link to each site in there. Put this box on every page of the site, at the bottom of the left or right sidebar, or in a box at the bottom of the site. DON’T hide the links, and don’t put them on more than once.

This combination of tactics really works. And unlike the pre-Twitter/FaceBook days, it is actually fairly quick. It used to take a year or more to see significant results from this. If you do this now, then Google will pick up your blog post from Twitter within hours, and the blog will benefit every site linked to it. You can see an increase in website traffic to a linked site within 2 weeks.

The great thing about this system is that you basically set everything up, and then just post to your blog. Sure, it also helps to promote the blog through blog directories, where they also pick up the feed to your blog, but basically, with the exception of posting to your blog on a regular basis, it is a “set it and forget it” marketing method.

Content marketing is still the most powerful and stable marketing method online, and this system gives you a means of using a single effort to its maximum potential, in a way that is fairly simple to do. Not only that, there is absolutely NO backlash or negative effect to it. Search engines LIKE it, you aren’t manipulating ANYTHING, you are doing it all open and above board. You are helping your customers through helpful and fun information, provided through your blog, there’s no pressure sales, no sales pitches. Just good stuff, that people and search engines LIKE, being presented where people can either read it or not.

Now that, is smart marketing!

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