The Evolution of Marketing Channels for Digital Media

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Caleb hangs his back-pack up everyday when he comes home from middle school. He kicks off his shoes, uses the bathroom, maybe fixes himself something to eat. The remote control gets grabbed, but mainstream TV is not what comes on the screen. Through the Sony Google Net Box, Caleb dials up a list of YouTube videos. He is absorbed as he watches one video after another and then another and another. By time his parents tell him to shut it off and get to his homework, not one single network program has been viewed. The sixth grader can’t tell you what’s on Nickelodeon. Cartoon Network has no influence. YouTube’s immense collection of videos about video games and random funny stuff are his poison.

Caleb’s parents are beginning to wonder about the benefits of keeping cable. Besides the diminishing cable TV interest of their son, the cable company recently decided to take away a few more channels and make them exclusive on the premium package. This came only too soon after another hike in their monthly rate. The combination of cable, Netflix and occasional Red Box now has the parents paying more on home entertainment than ever before. If the family can become more dependent on their Sony Box, then all they’ll have to pay for is the internet service (and possibly Netflix.) Ether way, the impact of YouTube and other video hosting platforms will probably serve as the tipping point in their decision.

Recent advantages in technology have added fuel to this video watching revolution. New video hosting platform websites have been popping up all over. HTML 5 and its built-in video player make it easy for anyone with server space to show off videos. Digital media distributors can provide and package the means for anyone to create their own video hosting platform website. Sites that used to just let you showcase photos are now bursting with video.

Because of all of this, marketing through digital channels now takes on a whole new look. Hundreds of thousands of businesses and other organizations now use video to increase results; and they do it by providing their content to video hosting platform sites like YouTube, Daily Motion, Metacafe and Vimeo. In turn, they share the content through the platform to other sites, apps and blogs, giving the good content out there legendary status. Internet celebrities are discovered overnight. Going viral is now a worthy quest.

The challenge for marketers is how to stand-out when sharing content. Successful ways have included the ever-present list making and interactive ranking. Through the convenient application of embed-able mark-up offered at these hosting platforms, website owners all around the WWW are listing and ranking their top video picks. Even the larger media outlets have joined in the game (see Fox News, Billboard, and USA Today.) Some of the sites doing a consistently good job at listing the best online videos are: mashable.com, Wikipedia and Huffington Post (now operating their own platform – aol.com.) For those not entertained by a mere list, there are ranking/rating sites that get viewers involved. In addition to the video platform hosts offering their own ways for visitors to interact, some of the more relevant high brow social media sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg use the power of collective judgment to filter up the best quality viral video. Other fun video watching sites like Funny or Die and Blip tv let their audiences select winners and losers of popular online videos.

The landscape of entertainment is changing. Soon the myopic conduits of television content will be replaced with the fluid and dynamic content channels that stem from the World Wide Web. With the influx of new devices and brilliantly easy HTML coding, the ability to provide better-than-ever variety and quality will become the standard norm.

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The Power of Social Media in a Globalised World

Much has been talked about globalisation, its pros and cons, its promises and failures, and how it can or cannot help developing countries follow the trajectories of development charted by those who have already achieved the distinction of being officially called the ‘developed nations’. The debates have centred on pure economics of it: the merits or otherwise of market economics based on international trade and investment, with resource allocation mediated by international free market forces. In more sense than one, globalisation is not new – even before the Europeans rode the high tide of globalisation, Chinese and Indian traders dominated the globalised market of pre-medieval world.

There are three important factors that are overlooked in most discourses on the current round of globalisation, although these have potential to make significant impact on the lives of billions of people in poor countries which globalisation has simply passed by. First, when Britain and America led their brand of globalisation in the eighteenth to the twentieth century, they ensured that they were themselves not ‘globalised’ – they developed their domestic market and capacity of the masses to play their role in the market. This helped in broadening and deepening the effects of globalisation by making sure that the benefits were not confined to the rich and the moneyed who went out to ‘globalise’. That unfortunately is not happening in many of the poorer countries now where millions of people remain disenfranchised, and too incapacitated to play their role in a global market.

The second most important departure from previous globalisations, and perhaps the one that holds out the most prospect for the poor and the powerless, has been in the concept of global rights, especially in the global policy regimes on rights to development and application of humanitarian laws. Just as the current chapter of globalisation drew the world closer in terms of free market mechanism and unfettered capital flows, it also brought about a realisation that basic rights to protection, assistance and development as enshrined in different human rights conventions and international humanitarian laws needed global application. These are often referred to as second generation rights involving universal minimum welfare entitlements, as opposed to the first generation rights which relate to individual liberty and freedom on which an universal consensus ideology is yet to emerge. You could not have economic growth and prosperity for some, while turning a blind eye to the denial of basic rights to life and protection for a large majority of the world. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and reshaping of the international aid architecture following the Monterrey consensus are part of this global agenda. MDGs are not just wish lists for donor agencies or governments, but reflect commitments to ensure that various instruments under the international humanitarian laws and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) are met by the governments in the first instance.

For the first time in the history of humanity, the language of rights entered the frame of discussions and policy making at national and international levels in the past decade. The economic, social and cultural rights include a number of claims, like claims to social security and a certain standard of living, including claims to adequate food, clothing, housing, health care, sanitation, education, etc. Prior to this, despite having various conventions and protocols agreed and ratified by governments, these hardly provided any strong reference point when it came to implementation, especially in developing countries. The introduction of rights in development discourse recognised that access to good healthcare is not just something a good government ought to provide, it is a right of the villagers who never see their health workers visit the derelict primary healthcare centre to demand it. Likewise, when the devastating Tsunami hit the Indian Ocean area, the affected families in the Tsunami-hit areas had a right to receive assistance in the form of food, shelter and livelihoods from the national governments and from the international humanitarian agencies like the UN, the International and national non-government organisations. It is no longer the case of ‘a good government’ doing a favour to its chosen subjects, nor a poor woman surviving on the generosity of a large-hearted non-government organisations (NGO). There are rights, duties (duty of care) and obligations that come into the equation. Thanks to globalisation that triggered this global thinking.

This has been the most significant achievement of globalisation: the recognition of individuals as ‘subjects’ of international law, and so of international concern, and bringing into the development equation the economic, social and cultural rights which national and international development processes ought to strengthen.

Thanks to globalisation, global media and public opinion, the renewed commitment to providing basic needs of life and livelihoods as a matter of right has meant that governments can no longer hide behind the curtain of sovereignty and still maintain a facade of a nation which tramples upon the rights and liberties of individuals. China could get away with Tiananmen massacre in 1989, but Chinese businesses and government would shudder to think what would become of their global dreams if the same were to occur in the 21st century. It is globalisation again which by leveraging public scrutiny of war crimes now enables international governance to bring to book perpetrators of crimes against humanity in the International War Crimes Tribunal.

Internet Marketing – A Maze In A Haze?

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Internet marketing, website marketing, call it what you will, can be a bit like a maze. You charge off down one route……dead end. Someone sends you off down another route with a big smile on their face…….another dead end. Another route looks promising…….until it fizzles out and you reach another dead end. You can’t cheat by looking over the hedge, it’s about 20 feet high! A big ladder so you can get a good view? No, they’ve all been hidden. None left on the planet! Except those in the vaults of the internet gurus, you suspect.

So, you keep going around this maze, and at every turn there’s advertising, all about the maze itself, telling you about which way to go. Plans of the maze which, if you follow, may get you half way round, only to find you need to buy another plan to get the rest of the way. So what do you do? Carry on around this maze unaided? Or buy another plan? You buy another plan of this maze, and lo and behold, you end up at a place somewhere near the exit into real open daylight (you think), but how do you get the correct final few turns? Anyway, maybe you’re not near the exit after all? You could be on the far side of the maze from the exit. Sound familiar?

If you’ve been researching the internet from a business point of view for any length of time, you have probably found that much of the advertising, the marketing, is about …………….. internet marketing. This is partly why it can seem like a maze. If you are not sure what is going to work to market your website, or the products in it, how do you know which advice to listen too, which “offers” to take up?

Why is Internet Marketing Such a Maze?

Marketing is a subject I’ve been interested in for many years, long before I was partner in an advertising related business in the early 90’s. Then, marketing was a quite stable world. The most recent “change” of any significance had been TV, and TV advertising had evolved steadily over several decades. It was glossy, glamorous, and………..very expensive. That was good for the big advertising agencies, and they chased the big advertisers with massive budgets for TV advertising. They had their creative departments to come up with memorable TV ads, often designed to be memorable rather than to sell, and their media buyers to buy time on the commercial TV stations.

The glamour was in TV, but every company and every agency would work on a marketing mix: radio advertising, sales promotions, glossy magazine advertising, newspaper advertising, trade ads, direct mail…..all played their part. These all had one thing in common, though: they had been around for a very long time. Marketing was a stable industry, not in economic terms, but in the “tricks of the trade”. There were a few minor variations here and there, but basically, the marketing industry had its accepted, well documented, ways of doing things. Skill levels varied of course, and that’s where competition came in between the agencies and between companies in the same industries. The point is, though, it was all basically stable. Good or bad, it was stable.

Then along came the internet. Being involved in advertising in the mid 90’s, it was obvious to me that the potential was absolutely enormous. Mind boggling. It was difficult to demonstrate, though, as speeds were painfully slow. You’d try to show someone over a cup of coffee or tea, and you’d finish the drink while the second page was loading. Try coming back in 5 years. Well, they did. With a vengeance.

The internet itself came on in leaps and bounds after that. Technically it developed rapidly. Companies started to realise they “had” to have an internet presence. Why? Well, often because their competitor did, or because they thought they should before their competitor did. They were diving in, pretty much blind; they did not understand what they were getting into. The stock markets cottoned on that something big was in the offing, so .com shares were being touted to ever higher levels. Shares of companies with no substance in most cases.

I used to trade shares on a daily basis in those days, and I never touched one internet related company. I cringed every time I saw the financial figures of a listed .com. Prices of shares were often in the stratosphere while turnover was meagre and profits non existent, then and into the future. The traders in the London Stock Exchange and Wall Street did not understand. The internet was new, there was no history to go on. They simply did not understand. They were excited, and were exciting others too. The buying was frantic. The crash inevitable.

Companies all over the world were realising, though, that they must have a web presence. Companies had marketing departments and/or advertising agencies. So they too had to go along with the the tidal wave of internet anticipation. What did they do? They followed the accepted patterns for marketing in those days. TV advertising. Radio advertising. Big newspaper ads. The massive costs of those methods bore no relationship then to the potential for additional income, for sales. They were throwing money down the drain in most cases. Why? They simply did not understand!

The internet was, and is, a revolution in communications. But the marketing industry had not had a revolution, it was too bogged down in the rest of the marketing mix to realise what was really going on here. The printing press was a revolution in communications, but it took many years to spread its influence. Radio was a revolution in communications; likewise. TV? Likewise.

The internet has been more like an explosion, and after an explosion it takes time for the dust to settle. That’s one of the reasons for the maze of internet marketing. The dust is still settling. You can’t see through the dust yet. More of a haze than a maze I suppose! No, a maze in a haze!

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Cable TV 101: The Power of TV Commercials

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As we watch various TV shows at home, there is something that you may notice after taking a break. This is what we call commercial breaks. It is some kind of advertisement that are placed in a TV network during break time. Advertisers are paying the TV company on a pay-per-view basis until the credits expired. It means that for every advertisement viewed by the cable TV customers and subscribers, credits will start to charge. Why is it that lots of advertisers are willing to promote their product, service or company through TV commercials?

First of all, cable and satellite TV providers are having a huge market. The reason that cable or satellite TV is a huge market because of the great demand. In other words, everybody loves to watch TV all the time. This is where the advertisers came in, and they’re willing to spend their money for advertising credits. But how would they benefit from their advertising credits through TV commercials? For example, if you advertise a shampoo product through a pay-per-view basis, you might target a lot of women who are watching cable TV.

The channels that you are targeting for the product must be related to beauty, fashion, lifestyle and other variety channels. As cable TV providers and the advertisers agreed to a deal with this campaign, the commercial mode starts to roll. As you are targeting the right niche or audience, it gives them a lot of interest to check out the product advertised on TV. If there is a possibility that your product or service made sales through your TV commercial campaign, it is a sign of success for your business. This is where businesses are very successful through their campaigns.

However, if you choose the wrong target or demographics, you will get no or less sales from your products or services. It is important for your campaign to be targeted by means of pay-per-view, and it reflects the performance of your product or service itself. There is no guarantee that you may have a successful campaign with any cable TV provider, because there are lots of advertisers out there. In other words, there are some competitors in your niche or area that are running their campaigns through TV commercials as well.

Overall, it is worth for your business to test anything for the best. If you don’t test it out, you will not succeed. It needs you to take action to make your business profitable, especially in terms of promoting products and services. There are lots of ways for you to advertise the product and service, and it has no limits for you. As long you have a big budget to run a campaign for your product or service in a cable TV company, you’re good to go. This is the real power of TV commercials in running their campaigns through a pay-per-view basis. It may give you a real risk, but it’s normal for all businesses.

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Social Media Marketing – Wake Up to the Revolution, Market Your Business Online – Part 1

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Are you stuck in the wilderness of old fashioned marketing techniques or are you part of the new revolution?

You might ask, what is Social Media? I’ll ask you: under what rock have you been the last couple of years?

If you want to be part of the revolution I’ll share a few facts with you that will show you why Social Media is one of your most important and powerful marketing strategies to promote your business online TODAY.

What is this Monster then?

“Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues.” As defined by Wikipedia

It is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, Blogger, Digg, Orkut, Flikkr to mention a few.

Lets ponder on a few interesting facts that will undoubtedly demonstrate the enormity of this ever evolving media that is fast becoming the new economy of the world – A Big shift indeed!

– When you look at the worlds population, over 50% is under the age of 30 and 96% of them joined some kind of Social Media Network.

– Baby Boomers are joining in their masses

– Personal relationships are formed on these networks – 1 out of 8 marriages today met through Social Media

– It grows faster than any other media in history. To reach 50 Million users:

– Radio took 38 years

– TV took 13 years

– Internet took 4 years

– iPod took 3 years, BUT

FACEBOOK alone added 100 Million users in 9 months,

– today it is the number one activity on the web, outperforming the previous number one- pornography,

– In the USA today there are more online students than students who receive face-to-face education (revealed by a study done by the US Department of Education)

– There are 15 Million articles on Wikipedia (Wiki-Hawaiian term for QUICK). These articles is as accurate as the Encyclopedia of Britannica

– It is a truly on the go media/platforms

– People using it everywhere and at anytime

– It is used by young and old

– This will undoubtedly have an impact on the way you market yourself, your business and the quality of the product or service you render

– This bring a truly new meaning to the term “Word of Mouth Marketing”

This is the NEW ECONOMY, driven by people for people. Instead of having a selling mindset you have to shift to a listening mindset before you can even think of selling to that customer.

You have to come to the party. You must focus on providing high value content, product and service. If you get this right you’ll be able to start showing profits. Why?

People will trust YOU!

This is true for your business. It does not matter if you’re a business from home, a traditional brick and mortar business, an online internet business, or a big corporate business. YOU have to get educated.

Look out for Part 2

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Dishing Out Television!

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It’s almost the beginning of July 2006. The Direct to Home (DTH) scene in India is getting ready for the mother-of-all battles. The Subhash Chandra owned Dish TV is going to have a competitor in the Rupert Murdoch backed TATASKY DTH platform soon. Though TATA owns seventy odd percent in the venture we all know where the technical expertise is going to come from.

Newscorp via STAR TV will no doubt be building a strong product for Indian households. Let us not forget that they own and operate BSKYB in the United Kingdom where they are almost considered untouchable in both quality of service and reach. DISH TV too is not sitting still. Only a few months from their launch, they started offering services like Movie On Demand and of course the more recent announcement of the inclusion of extra channels including SONY on their DTH platform.

STAR having stayed off the DISH TV platform with only STAR UTSAV making a token appearance, have made their intentions clear. This year promises to be an all out exciting one for television viewers in the country. Both the players are known to be aggressive. They are not going to pull any punches and surely aren’t taking any prisoners. When BSKYB launched to a lukewarm reception in the UK, SKY started giving the set top boxes free, they also bought all the exclusive football rights for an astronomical amount to bring in the viewers. Free set top boxes plus the only place to watch their football the Brits bought into BSKYB big time making it a thundering success. ZEE on the other hand back home is constantly updating their services portfolio. The latest addition to their list is Mobile DISH TV. Yes, that’s right you will be able to watch all their channels on the move in a car or a bus. They have a year’s head start over TATASKY and are looking to consolidate their lead.

TATASKY on the other hand has deep pockets and a vast library of content to dish out on their platform. It’s too early to tell who will win this fight but signals are out there that the fight will be long and fought hard. Especially now since SONY has joined DISH TV the lines are drawn. Like I mentioned some time back, people do want all the goodies that a DTH service brings but how many will want two different boxes at home is the question? Maybe it will lead to the mother-of-all mergers…the TATASKYDISH TV Network!

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Characteristics of Modern Media Technology

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Media has evolved a lot. Modern media depends on Technology to send information or gather them at a faster speed. The following are the characteristics:  

Speed: The information reaches at a faster speed.     

Reach: The information must have mass reach.  

Preventing Calamities: Modern media broadcasts 24 hours. So high technology is used to beat natural calamities.     

Constant Transmission: Technology is used for constant transmission.  

The following tools of technology is used to achieve the aforesaid targets:  

 

Use of Satellites: Satellite Technology is used to ensure constant transmission. A satellite hardly  gets affected by climatic conditions.     

Use of Video Conferencing: It is used to get live and personalized feedback without physical presence.  

Use of Television Conferencing: It is used to get audio inputs from far off places.  

Use of Internet: Internet is being relied upon for information.  

Use of high end Computer Technology: Computing and high speed processors are used for fast and able data processing.  

Use of Mobile Satellite Vans for News Coverage: Satellite vans are used for high mobility and anytime coverage.    

Use of high end Audio visual equipments: Use of high end audio visual equipments have emerged that leads to clear sound and picture. Tape recorders and high end video cameras are used by media persons to take interviews fast and transmit news ina proper and efficient manner.    

Thus these are the characteristics of Modern Media Technology that has made media more fast, accurate and improved and has made it an indispensable tool for protecting the  largest democracy of the world named India by making it more transparent and accountable to people. Hence these are the characteristics of modern media technology.  

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What Satellite TV Programming Do I Need?

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Because there are typically a number of package choices it may be a good idea to have a good guesstimate of what a person is looking for before making the decision. There are so many combinations that customers can purchase and even add on additional channels to their likening. Programming generally depends on the amount of monthly costs that a subscriber is willing to pay. The more the package the larger number of channels, even additional movie, adult and sports channels. These may include premium packages that are not a part of the regular or lower package deals provided by the satellite company.

The type of programming that is needed is solely dependent on a couple of factors. First, the types of shows, movies and events that are desired will help the consumer make the determination of which to pick from. There are the most basic packages that simply give subscribers channels such as local, regular programming and the bare necessities. Then there are those that have premium channels and allow the ordering of movie events, NFL Sunday tickets and much more. The nice thing about the choices is the fact that there are so many different needs and desires when it comes to television programming. These vast packages allow everyone from single individuals to families with children to decide the type of package that they will have.

Members can also choose between the different pay-per-view and subscription features that are offered by most satellite providers. The pay-per-view is generally those that are ordered on a one time basis. It may be a particular movie or sporting event that the viewer wishes to see, but there is just the onetime fee, not an ongoing one. This pay as you go is very popular because it doesn’t lock the viewer into any recurring monthly charges and gives them the freedom to choose which programs that they want to see for additional costs. If there is a particular channel or programming that the subscriber watches often, then they may consider a monthly subscription. This allows them to watch that channel on an ongoing basis without incurring any additional costs. Sports channels, adult channels and movie channels are all examples of this type of subscription services.

For most satellite providers there is some necessary equipment that allows their customers to choose the type of programming that they receive. Just like the ordering of movies or other paid events must have a box or other equipment to send the signal and purchase the event. It is important for the member to ensure that they have a package that allows for the viewing or paid services so that they can order when they wish. Nothing is more aggravating than preparing to watch an event or movie and find out that it is not allowed because the appropriate programming or equipment doesn’t exist. Prepare early to ensure that the best programming and services are available before being disappointed. There are many programming choices to view and sign up for, the best way to determine the best for you is to review the choices and find the best fit!

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Increase Online Video Marketing Reach Through Social Media

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Online video marketing is increasingly the chosen option of businesses to establish their online presence. One of the most effective video marketing strategies is the use of social media to widen and diversify audience reach. There are many ways to create a social media presence but statistics show that the use of video is the most popular way. There is no question about video’s popularity by now as its claim to popularity is fully backed by impressive statistics.

Another important thing to remember about videos is that it can work well with various forms of social media. For example, a YouTube video that viewer like can be shared with other Facebook accounts, blogs as well as other social media sites. It will be the viewers themselves who will make the video go viral for the following reasons:

1. Easy to Share

If you have a fun, exciting and informative video, viewers will not only ‘like” or click a thumbs sign, they will share it with other people so that they can talk about it later. It’s a natural tendency to share something that makes one excited, sad, happy or inspired. The same thing will happen to those who were affected by the shared video because it only takes a click to share.

Even news videos now have links to share with various social media platforms. Viewers usually want to share videos with controversial topics. Eventually, if more sharing recipients like the video, it will go viral. Videos are not only easy to share, they are the type of content people would like to share. Generally, videos are easier to understand than text.

2. Billions of Potential Video Viewers

You can’t share if there’s nobody to share with, right? But there are hundreds of millions of users in the top social media sites. Facebook alone has over 1 billion users. In 2013, eMarketer forecasts social networking users to reach 1.43 billion, an increase of 19.2% from 2012.

Targeting social media users is like targeting a captive audience for your videos. That’s why it’s one of the most considered video marketing tactics to promote brand awareness.

3. Extended Accessibility

TV commercials are played only based on how much air time you bought. It’s not something that’s available if you want to see it. For example, a friend can only tell you about an impressive TV commercial. You have to watch TV and hope it will be shown. On the other hand, online videos are continuously available unless you delete them.

For instance, Justin Bieber’s music video “Baby” with over 756.4 million views has been continuously available at YouTube since April 25 2010. Until now there are still viewers without the need to buy more air time. It’s the same with the popular Volkswagen advertisement with over 53 million hits and counting. If the Justin Beiber video was shown only on a music site like MTV, it would have been taken off after a few months to give way to newer releases. It couldn’t have been viewed at least 756.4 million times.

If you are not using online video marketing strategies to establish your social media presence, you could be limiting the reach of your online marketing efforts.

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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting A Social Media Campaign

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Starting a social media campaign for your business is like entering into a relationship. For it to succeed over the long term you must be committed to it and have realistic expectations as to what you’ll get out of it.

Current statistics show that that 73% of Twitter registrants have posted fewer than 10 messages and one third have posted none at all.

The majority of Facebook fan pages give visitors no incentive to “like” the page. As well, they rarely develop ongoing communication campaigns catered to their fans.

These trends are a clear indication that both people and businesses are participating in social media with either no plan, no goals, or no idea why.

So before you make your first tweet, create a Facebook fan page, or start searching for Linked In connections, ask yourself these questions. The answers may help you better focus your time, resources, and better understand how to include social media into your company’s marketing program.

Why do I want to participate in social media?

With social media “experts” declaring that any business not tweeting or without a Facebook fan page is losing business to competitors, many entrepreneurs feel compelled to participate out of fear. This just leads to frustration when time and money is spent on setting up accounts and custom pages, only to not see any measurable results. The fact is that social media is like any other marketing tool and may not be right for every business. Even so, it must still be used effectively, perhaps as part of a bigger campaign, for any benefits to be seen.

Do I have the time and resources?

Unlike conventional marketing such as ads in a newspaper, direct mail, or even a web site, social media requires continuous attention. Depending on your business, this could range from a few minutes a day to over an hour. Do you have the time, desire and patience to make regular and relevant tweets or update your Facebook page? And while you could have a staff member or virtual assistant do this for you, that means allocating resources and money that you may or may not be able to afford, or could better be used elsewhere.

Can I continuously come up with great content?

Unlike a blog where you can post content on your own schedule, making social media work means posting interesting and relevant content on an ongoing basis. Depending on which guru you listen to, this can mean a few tweets a day to more than 10 per hour. Can you keep up this pace? And do you really have enough to say? Even sharing a mix of personal anecdotes, relevant links, retweets, and business information can only go so far before you start getting mentally exhausted – and frustrated.

What are my goals?

Unless you’re involved in social media for purely social purposes, it’s likely that you are hoping to get some form of financial return out of it. The goals of attracting more clients and more sales is what drives most businesses to social media in the first place. So let’s be realistic – from a business perspective, followers, friends, fans and connections are really nothing more than lists. And if the names on those lists are not the kinds of clients you would like to attract, then you may be preaching to the wrong crowd. The best thing to do is decide what your goals are from the start. For many businesses, clients can come from any geographic area or be any demographic, so social media may be ideal. Think about if you’re trying to create awareness for your company, product, or just you

What are my alternatives?

Social media is just one of hundreds of ways to reach people. Depending on your goals you may find some old fashioned methods produce better results with less resources. Trade shows, direct mail, email, seminars, networking events, newspaper ads, or publicity stunts can still garner the kinds of result you may be looking for. Many companies have successfully used social media to build word-of-mouth “momentum” that originally started from a conventional marketing campaign. Remember the old spice guy? That campaign started as just a television commercial and went on to become the most successful social media campaign ever.

Do people really care?

The open forum concept of Twitter, Facebook and Linked In groups allows for huge numbers of people to talk about common interests. But let’s be honest here. Is your business worthy of discussion? A client of mine who is a self employed dental hygienist was disappointed when her tweets and Facebook postings garnered little response. While they were quality posts, it seemed teeth cleaning was just not a big draw for online discussion. It can be tough to hear, but sometimes the world does not share your passion about your product or service.

How do I measure success?

While many web designers and consultants will point to Google Analytics when asked about return on investment, the fact is that ROI can only be measured in dollars and cents. Your time and resources are worth something, so you must put a value to them and factor that in when developing your social media campaign. If you make $80.00 an hour doing what your core service is, then investing 10 hours in social media will cost you $800.00. If you don’t make that money back in a reasonable period of time, then you will have a negative return. Factor in other costs such as a graphic designer or marketing consultant, and your costs will be even higher. Success should be defined by a set of criteria before you begin your campaign – social media or otherwise.

Think of social media as just one tool in your marketing toolbox. And the most effective marketing campaigns come from knowing what tools to use and when to use them, either alone or in combination.

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