Throwing the marketing baby out with the bath water…

While search engines seem to be taking social signals into account, there’s no need to throw the marketing baby out with the bath water.

If you haven’t got to grips with social media marketing yet, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve missed the boat. You’d also be forgiven for thinking search engine optimisation is dead, as online marketers working at the sharp end head en masse, lemming-like, to new pastures like Pinterest.

Marketers have always had a tendency to drop proven tactics in favour of the next big thing. As an ex-marketer myself, I’m allowed to say that! But common sense is really important, however exciting things get.

The real life benefits of social media

All you need to do is join Twitter or Facebook to see thousands of brands fighting to gather as many followers and ‘likes’ as humanly possible. But how many of them have a handle on the real-life business benefits of marketing via social media? How many ‘likes’ and followers convert to enquiries and sales, ultimately improving their bottom line?

45% of Brits don’t want to interact with brands on social media

A recent report showed that 45% of Brits don’t want to ‘interact with brands’ via social networks. Which is no surprise when they were designed with pleasurable, personal social interaction and networking in mind, not sales and marketing. And while millions of us enjoy social networks, even more of us don’t bother.  When you concentrate exclusively on SMM, you miss out on a big pot of potential customers.

Search engines love shares

Then there’s search engines, who need all the information they can lay their hands on to help them classify, rank and rate websites fairly and accurately in a crowded commercial landscape. There’s no way they’re going to drop boring old search engine optimisation, inbound link building, unique content and so on from their algorithms’ repertoire.

Exercising common sense with marketing budgets

If your online marketing agency starts making noises about shifting your entire budget into social media marketing at the expense of SEO, DM, SEM and other comparatively old hat media, just say no. Innovative new media like Pinterest might be shiny and exciting but they’re extras, not replacements. The jury is still out as regards solid, reliable, readily reproduceable empirical evidence of social media’s marketing effectiveness. As such it really shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for established, better understood practices.

I know I sound like a broken record. But the best marketers always TEST a new medium to the nth degree to establish its performance and potential beyond doubt before rolling it out. And social media marketing is no different.

As I’ve said a tedious number of times before, variety is the spice of successful marketing life…