Social media might be the ‘new kid on the block’ but it has certainly developed in popularity. I have a lot of friends who are addicted to social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, but what about social media for online businesses? Online business gurus frequently argue that having a social media presence is absolutely essential for being successful within the online environment, but is this actually the case? With so many different social media platforms available, how does one even know where to start?
Why social media anyway?
Social media does have its advantages. It provides you with a way of connecting with a large audience and engaging their interest. This lets you drive traffic to a website effectively, traffic that might not have found your site through a direct search. If you are trying to get traffic to your website, social media can be very effective, particularly if you already use social media. This approach also provides you with an effective way of building up a following and a brand overall.
Because of this, social media can help to make a website more noticed and more popular, particularly by people who use social media on a regular basis.
What is involved?
The challenge of social media is the time involved. Every social media network you engage in takes a little time, and this adds up quickly. Additionally, you have to be very careful not to lose your focus and simply end up browsing social networks for hours at a time when you are meant to be working.
When it comes to social media engagement, you have to main options. The first of these is actively engaging in a network. For example, with Twitter, engagement would involve following people, replying to tweets, tweeting about popular topics (Trendsmap is fantastic for this) and being active in general. The second option is to simply share on the network, which involves posting links and information whenever you post on your website.
The second approach can be easily done through website addons, but does not create nearly as much of a following as the first approach. However, engagement can be time-consuming, particularly if you are engaged in more than one social network, or have more than one website. This means you need to pick a few (or one) social media networks to be involved in actively, and another three or four to simply share on. The most popular ones at the moment are Facebook, Google + and Twitter, with Pintrest rapidly growing in popularity, so those are good networks to consider.
Do you have to?
Social media networks can be important in promoting your website, but they are not essential. They are also nowhere near as important as content. If you keep posting good quality content, you will eventually get traffic, while focusing online on social networks strongly undermines any websites. The balance between the two is different for every person, and you will probably find you need to play around with it before you make your decision.