Let’s talk about social media marketing for a bit. I know, there are plenty of articles about the use of social media for businesses, so you’re probably sick of this topic, but if you’re interested in one more thought on the subject I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
For many businesses, particularly those without the budget to hire a digital agency or marketing professional to manage their accounts, social media can seem like a major time commitment. You know that to do social media right, you can’t just broadcast a message, you must communicate with and respond to your customers. Of course, if you’re part of multiple networks, you can’t neglect one or two of them, so suddenly the work is multiplied. Next thing you know, you’ve lost countless valuable hours on Facebook, you haven’t even gotten to Twitter, and you’re behind deadline for one of your customers.
So you ask yourself, what is the #1 network we should use? If you have worked with a digital agency, you know the answer isn’t always simple. We try to prioritize social media networks based on our client’s goals and their target audience. But you want a simple answer, right? One that works for every business, regardless of goals. The bare minimum you must do to gain customers. Is it Twitter? Is it Facebook? LinkedIn?
Well, I think I finally have an answer, and it is probably different than what you’re expecting. But before I tell you, I have to begin with a story.
I recently returned home (and to work) from my honeymoon in Belize. Belize is a beautiful country, and despite its young age (they just celebrated 35 years of independence) they have all of the amenities Americans would expect while on vacation. This includes cell phone signal, mobile data and Internet service.
Now, while there is Internet and wifi throughout the country, the service can be shaky at times. I tried to avoid using it whenever possible, but I was a little lost without it. I am a digital marketer after all, and I can’t go a day without connecting. So there were times where I just had to use the internet to research, plan activities, or find a restaurant on a beach.
The internet connection was inconsistent at best, frustrating at worst. Many times I couldn’t load websites or would lose connection before loading a second page. Essentially, I had one search, one-page load. That’s it. In that search, I had to find all of the information I needed to make a decision. First world problems, am I right?
In that search, the businesses with Google+ and Google My Business profiles stood out. All of the information I needed was right there on the search engine results page and even some of their latest social activity. Google My Business and G+ were not as universally adopted in Belize, so often I wasn’t even able to find the information I needed, but when I did it was like a breath of fresh air.
For example, there was one restaurant all of the locals suggested we visit. One night, we didn’t feel like walking the 2 miles to visit, so we took a look at Google to find out more. Because their Google My Business and Google+ profiles were up to date, we knew they would be closing the next night for “Slow Season,” and we wouldn’t be able to visit for the remainder of our trip. It prompted us to make the trek and visit that night
That’s why I’d say if you only had the time or budget to manage one social media platform, I’d suggest Google My Business/Google+.
With an updated Google My Business profile, you can keep all of your business’ most critical information right there on the search engine results page. It collects your contact info, website info, location and hours of operation all right there. For more advanced profiles, you’ll even be able to collect customer reviews. All of this is valuable information for your customers. Here’s the Google My Business card for emfluence for example.
Since your Google Plus and Google My Business accounts are linked, the information you share on the social media platform is directly tied to your account. Sure, Google Plus isn’t being used nearly as much by customers, but the search still reigns supreme, and your profile will directly effect your search results.
I know what you’re going to say: “Alex, this is a special situation.” You know that in the US, we have abundant, reliable internet access. Therefore you shouldn’t worry that much about the information on the first search. But the reality is most people never make it past the first page of search results and are always looking for the simplest path to the information they need. The island internet just forced me into behaving like most consumers.