Most of our clients are small businesses, and so we will attempt to answer this question within the context of Australian small business. And context is essential when deciding which digital platform to spend your time and money on. Word of mouth, of course, will always reign supreme when it comes to growing your customer base. But when it comes to the online space, what works for the cafe will probably not work for the law firm.
Social media marketing gets a lot of hype. Social media is a content delivery platform based on hype. If you (or your social media person) are on the ball and ahead of the game, it can be a powerful tool, especially to build brand awareness and authority. It’s a quick way for a large volume of people to view and access snippets of your business. The one downside is that engagement, for the most part, is short-lived. When we’re on social media, we’re there to keep scrolling. This isn’t inherently a bad thing. Regular posting of high-quality, visually engaging content will mean you pop up constantly in the hands and minds of your audience. When the time comes that someone wants what you offer, you will come to mind.
Where social media really shines is when we need to trigger an instant response in an audience and when the use of your product or service ties in with our need for social connection. For example, hospitality businesses do well with a strong social media presence. We see a smoothie bowl that looks incredible, and in that moment we can envision what it might taste like. We’re hungry, and we want it. Our friend tells us they’ve booked a table at a restaurant, we want to see what they offer, we check their social media for recent posts, so we know they aren’t bluffing. We see a bar that looks great, there are cool-looking people posting that they’re there. Before we know it everyone in our feed is there, and we wouldn’t want to not be a part of that.
However, this doesn’t apply in the same way for other businesses, especially in the professional services or trades and construction categories. That’s not to say you shouldn’t bother at all with social media, but the effort-to-reward ratio is slim. People don’t really want to scroll through photos of legal service documents, plumbing jobs or doctors' clinics. We use social media to be stimulated by bright and exciting things, and to check out a little from life, not to remember the jobs we have to do and things to sort out. So whilst a decent social media presence no doubt adds value and validity to these businesses, expending a huge amount of energy, time or money into social media may not deliver the best results for these types of businesses.
When we need a good lawyer, we don’t check out their Instagram, we put our trust in Google. We get to their website and make assumptions pretty quickly. Does it look legit? Is it up to date, professional and has all the information I need? Can I trust them? Importantly, is it easy to book or contact? Which will take us to Part Two: Getting Your Website To Do The Work For You.