The basics of online marketing.

failThe development of social media has only been with us a few years, yet Facebook, Twitter et al are all firmly ensconced in our communications . True or false?

The truth is that many of the professional communicators I talk to still feel uneasy about social media as a part of the communications mix.

Sure, not many people still send paper press releases out to journalists – the mass use of email has largely put paid to that.

But many communicators – particularly those of the generation who grew jup before computers and the internet became ubiquitous, still struggle with the concepts of social media, and its bewildering pace of change.

Facebook and Twitter have been around for a few years, as has YouTube. LinkedIn is perhaps the easiest for professional users to feel comfortable with, but Pinterest, Whats App, Snapchat Foursquare and some of the even newer ones can just be baffling.

Should an online marketing strategy for a large or small business be using them? Or are the risks of something backfiring just too great? The mainstream media is littered with stories of big corporations such as Nestle and Dominos Pizza who have fallen foul of social media in one way or another. Is it safer , as many communicators have concluded, to just leave them out of the mix and try and pretend they don’t matter?

Or should they be used individually, selectively, one at a time? What may appear on the face of it to be a ‘free’ way of marketing can be very time consuming to manage. Bigger organisations may need teams of people to run social media pages and sites.Those who embrace social media in all its aspects may not like the size of the bill at year end.

twoIt’s easy to assume that communications people by now have a good understanding of the pros and cons of social media and its use in the comms strategy. Many of those that I have spoken to still have a poor grasp of the basics, and some of them dare not ask younger, more junior people for advice.

With that in mind I thought I might set out a personal view of how social media can be used in business communications, whether you’re in the private, public or not-for-profit area. I have run social media strategies and web communications for some large and small organisations, and while there is no definitive way of doing it, some basic rules of how to do it – and not to do it – have emerged.

This blog series is intended for those struggling to find their way in this very new arena, one strewn with pitfalls. Let’s take it one at a time – keep watching.

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