Many businesses have to employ internet marketing agencies for their online marketing and promotion, simply because they do not have the time nor resources to expend on these activities. In addition, in this fast-paced world of change, it is difficult to find the right staff who can devote their time to keep abreast of developments as well as conducting campaigns.

Whilst search engine optimisation and Pay Per Click remain the staples of many search marketing agencies to deliver effective client campaigns, the advent and staggering growth of social media may be one place where we still are not seeing business focus nor the necessary skillset to take advantage of the opportunities.

Even established agencies struggle to develop strategies which can be economically deployed to help clients, but whether operating with an agency or using in-house resources, it is not as difficult nor as expensive as it may seem to create and maintain a social media strategy.

Before deciding on which tools and processes are required to run an effective campaign, any business should consider what results are desired as outcomes. Obviously, most businesses and budget holders want to know before committing to any expenditure what the return on investment will be, but one of the most important things to realise about the social aspect of the Internet is that it can very much prove to be a world of unintended consequences.

It is clear that certain social media approaches e.g. using Twitter for your consumer helpline, rather than having an expensive call centre, can directly reduce costs. However, what also needs to be factored in to the financial equation, and which is very hard to assess in pound signs, is the direct correlation between tweeting and hence being featured in searches on Google, and the impact of social signals on the SERPs and search engine algorithms, as well as the brand perception or awareness changes that can occur from this activity.

As the social network that the Internet is today evolves, it is clear that being present on as many bits of online real estate as possible is important. Not just for SEO, but also to enable your brand, products, services, company name and so on to reach the widest audience possible. Google have verified that these ‘social signals’ of your activity are taken into account in the search algorithms.

Therefore, realising how the different aims and objectives of your entire marcomms strategy can be holistically interlinked through social media marketing is key to making a strategy work for you, your customers and the search engines. Whether your end game is to increase sales, reduce costs, increase brand awareness, conduct positive public relations, or communicate more effectively with your potential audience, social media needs more than a passing consideration.

In Part 2 of this series, we will look at the different approaches, tools and resources that will help you to achieve a blend of marketing aims, using Twitter, without breaking the bank.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology