The short answer is yes. And no. Let me explain…
Social media can be an extremely useful tool. It helps you to connect to your target audience in real time and to engage on a personal as well as a professional level. Social media can help you to grow your personal brand, your business brand and your career opportunities. It can help you to get to know your target audience and to communicate with them directly.
There are many benefits to using social media, if it’s used wisely.
On the other hand, you need to remember that social media is not the only tool available to you. Don’t be tempted to forgo other forms of marketing and communication and to focus solely on social media. You will lose out.
While social media is a growing phenomenon, it’s not always the most appropriate channel for any given activity. For example, if you run an IT services company, you might find that social media is a fantastic tool for customer service. If a client sends you a tweet about an IT issue and you are able to deal with it quickly and effectively, it’s a win-win situation.
But sending out strings of tweets promoting your services may just see you marked as ‘spam’ by the Twitter folk. There are more appropriate ways to market your services, such as getting coverage for your company in a magazine read by your target audience or giving a keynote at a business exhibition.
Rather than risk pushing away potential customers through insisting on using social media as your primary marketing channel, stick to what works on social media and use other platforms for activities that don’t work well on social media, like networking, for example.
I found it interesting that when interviewed one of South Africa’s social media gurus, Mike Stopforth for my book, Branding & Marketing YOU, he said that he urges people to build authentic relationships offline.
He gives an example of how he ran Afrigator.com – a global business – and how more was achieved in the two face-to-face meetings where the founders of the site were in the room together than ever got done online, because there’s no substitute for real-world interaction.
In my workshops, I always tell people that face to face contact is king. While social media is a valuable way to build your profile and visibility, it can never replace building close personal relationships.
There are so many platforms available to you to build and market your personal brand, from advertising to PR, networking, writing articles or a book, leading workshops, giving speeches, writing reports or white papers… the list is endless.
It’s important to play to your strengths in terms of deciding what channels to use. It’s also critical that you don’t dilute yourself over too many channels and lose your impact. Rather identify one or two platforms that work best for you and focus on using them as best you can. Use social media. But make sure you use the other tools available to you as well.
Donna Rachelson is the author of Branding & Marketing YOU.
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