Are you a social media skeptic?

If you said “yes” to that question then let me stop right now and say – I totally get where you are coming from. I understand because I was unmoved by the hysteria around social media that appeared in every workplace about 5 years ago. I used to feel like the only person in the room that hadn’t drunk the social media punch as people got more and more excited about the endless client possibilities and limitless networking potential.

It wasn’t stubbornness that led to my skepticism. Rather, it was the whimsical nature of it all – lots of really broad claims by some with no data to back it up. By nature I am the kind of person that likes to see data and given my background in research and statistics I don’t mean data based on personal anecdotes. I mean actual data based on groups that accurately represent a population and with sample sizes that are large enough to determine if there are some significant findings.

Whats the Point of Social Media
Whats the Point of Social Media

In all the meetings, webinars and presentations I sat through there was little to no evidence to suggest that social media was having a positive impact on lead generation, establishing strategic partnerships or client engagement and retention. I did, however, see that social media had created lots of self-proclaimed experts that confused an increased number of followers or likes with adding value to the business. I remember sitting in a meeting and asking “What would be the primary reason for a business to focus part of their marketing on social media?” The answer I got was “Everyone is doing social media.” Seriously!? The best way to convince me of doing something is not by saying everyone else is doing it. I couldn’t help but hear the voice of my Nan saying “If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?” Of course I wouldn’t, not when I was 14 and not now either.

My turning point was the first time I read about content marketing. I could instinctively see the value in creating website content that would highlight unique expertise and speak directly to the target client. The strategic and personalized approach to content marketing made sense to me in comparison to the “all or none approach” to social media that seemed without focus. As an extension of content marketing I also saw the value of a blog and how it provided an opportunity to share even more valuable content with clients and potential clients and become a website asset.

I needed to arrive at this turning point to then see the value of social media. Platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are a great way to share and highlight the content you have created and drive more visitors back to your website. I still believe it’s important to keep your website as the anchor of your social media marketing. Your website will always stay within your control and be optimized for your business needs. In comparison, Facebook or Twitter will make whatever changes are best for their business needs and I would rather keep control of my marketing strategy in my own hands. At least now I appreciate that there are strategic uses for social media and that significant data can be obtained when you take the time to understand the analytics behind the platforms.

Jennifer-ArnoldBy Jennifer Arnold

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