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Don’t Follow Social Media? Get an Expert to Guide You

When Stephen Vlachos, principal at business brokerage firm Caswell Vlachos Group LLC, decided to explore the world of social media, he got more than he bargained for. In his article titled “I Don’t Follow” in the May 2nd issue of Mainebiz magazine, Vlachos details the trials and tribulations of his first forays into the realm of such services as Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. To someone such as myself who works with businesses on their social media strategies every day, the problems he outlines in his article sound all too familiar. During my talk on social media at last year’s Medical Internet Marketing Symposium (MIMS) in Boston, I offered the estimate that up to 75% of businesses are setting up their social media services incorrectly or inefficiently. In the year since that talk as Glacial Multimedia’s Interactive & Social Media Manager, I would wager that the above percentage is even higher. For a business unfamiliar with the services that sites like Facebook provide, it is often a much more productive and fruitful move to partner with a seasoned internet marketing company to help plan and oversee the execution of your social media package. That way, you CAN attract the right kind of attention and generate viable leads instead of simply spinning your wheels. When Stephen describes his experience setting up a Facebook page, he starts to mention emails from high school classmates and posts from his niece and Farmville enthusiasts showing up on his Wall. It quickly becomes clear that he has fallen into one of the most common Facebook traps– he set up a personal profile instead of a business page. Not only is it against Facebook’s terms of service to set up a personal profile for a business, but a properly configured business page will only show your own posts, as well as topical messages to you from your followers if and ONLY if you allow them posting access. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to create a new email address specifically for your social accounts. Otherwise, you will not be able to separate your personal profile from your page unless you make someone else an admin and delete your account entirely. When I searched Facebook for “Caswell Vlachos Group LLC” and “Stephen Vlachos” last month, I found a single page with 0 likes, 0 check-ins, and 0 wall posts, pictures or videos. Now, there are no search results for those terms at all. Vlachos also mentions that he set up a Twitter profile. After some initial run-ins with spam accounts masquerading as followers– a problem most users will have to face at least once, though it is getting better all the time– he seemed to have grown bored with the service rather quickly. While I was unable to find a profile for his business, I was able to locate one under his own name, @svlachos. In three years, he has started following 1 user, posted 16 tweets, and created 0 lists. When using Twitter, it is crucial to find a regular posting schedule that works for you. Some businesses post weekly; others, once a month. Whatever the frequency, it should go without saying that if you aren’t posting regularly, your audience will stop paying attention, and you will lose your followers. It is worth mentioning that a poll of Stephen’s business clients revealed that none of them actively follow anyone on Twitter. This could be a good indicator for him to focus less on Twitter in his overall plan (or not at all), but he could just as well minimize the time invested in building up content on this particular service by automating posts to it via a Facebook app. That way, there will be regular content for any new users of the service to find in the future. The poll also indicated that none of his customers knew that he had a Facebook page, which is yet more evidence that it was both not set up correctly and not effectively marketed to existing and/or potential clients. As for a blog, Vlachos seems to shoot down the idea before it gets off the ground, citing a statistic that there are over 160 million blogs on the internet. “Who is reading 160 million blogs?” he asks. The important thing to remember with a company blog is that you are basically establishing yourself as an expert in your particular field via your posts. Each article, if written properly, is laced with keywords, which will not only help your SEO but also drive users to your site who are seeking information on that particular topic. If you write one blog article every week for a year, you will have over 50 new pages of original, keyword-rich content on your website. As for finding time to write, consider skipping something such as a one-hour TV show. You can always catch up via Hulu or DVR over the weekend. The closing of Stephen Vlachos’ article contains a good piece of advice: “If you’re going to partake in social marketing, be sure that’s where your clients are.” I would augment that statement to say that if your clients aren’t currently using social media, it is only a matter of time before they start. In the face of growing social trends, creating consistently branded social profiles that offer regular updates in a variety of media (photos, videos, articles) with clear, engaging language and resources that customers are actively looking for (services, sales, promotions) will eventually create an audience online where there might not have been one before. The missteps and misconceptions that Stephen experienced are extremely common in the area of social marketing, and frustration is an inevitable result. The good news is that there are a variety of resources and experts out there waiting to help you maximize your online potential. Most people would hire a guide to lead them through a jungle– social media is no different! Jeremy Lindemann will be speaking on the subject of social media at the 2011 Medical Internet Marketing Symposium (MIMS) in Las Vegas on September 16th. Tickets are still available, go to www.mims2011.com to register.
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