These days having a good web presence isn't just about having a website that lists your services. Your customers will expect you to have a host of social media pages, as well as the obligatory company blog on your site. For businesses it can seem a daunting choice knowing just where to put your energy. Spread yourself too thinly and you may neglect each platform, focus too much on one and you may be missing opportunities elsewhere.
Facebook and Twitter are two of the largest social media platforms and these days it's expected that most businesses will have accounts on both. After putting their energies into setting them up and adding followers, many businesses inevitably end up battling with the time constraints of having to consistently manage and maintain them.
The same goes for company blogs. I've lost count of the number of businesses I've come across that have set them up with the best will in the world, only to neglect them all after an initial flurry of activity.
Of course, we've probably all been guilty of it. The problems that face any new business is diverting time and money to marketing, whilst struggling with the dilemma of which platform to target these often limited resources at. This can quickly lead to inertia, with no single platform seeming to deliver any tangible results and apathy towards all of them quickly setting in.
It's important to point out here that social media and blogs aren't really about driving sales, they're about building a brand through content marketing and social engagement. And this takes time and effort.
In this article I want to look at the pros and cons of using Facebook and Twitter as content marketing tools, as compared to blogging. I want to start though, by looking at the importance of playing to each platform's strengths.
Playing To Each Platform's Strengths
Driving traffic to your Facebook or Twitter accounts means creating content that people will want to share. That doesn't mean you need to create this content on the platform you're using to share it. In many cases Facebook and Twitter can be the worst places to host your best content.
It all comes down to what kind of content you are trying to promote and playing to each platform's strengths as a publishing platform but also as a conduit to new audiences. In other words, if you're producing regular content on your blog, then expanding your Facebook or Twitter followings should mean pushing new traffic to your blog as well. If you've included social follow and social sharing buttons on your site's blog (which if you haven't, you really need to do) then this can be a two way street as well.
That's not to say that Twitter and Facebook should be used solely as promotional tools for your blog. Think of all of your digital media platforms as part of one joined up content marketing network, with your blog acting as your main content hub.
Let's now take a look at the advantages of Facebook and Twitter as marketing tools, before moving on to look at your blog.
The Advantages Of Using Facebook / Twitter
Networked User Bases
One of the most attractive things about Facebook or Twitter isn't just the fact that both support huge user bases (1.44 billion and 320 million monthly users respectively) but that these users are all in a network. This means that for every like you get your potential audience can grow significantly.
Real Time Commentary And Updates
Unlike blogs, Facebook and Twitter are perfect platforms for just updating people or posting very short chunks of information in real time. The ability to directly comment, 'like' or 'retweet' other people's content and commentary also make them effective communication tools, as well as content publishing platforms.
Both Twitter and Facebook allow you to collect information on your followers and can be used as effective market research tools. Not only can this give you insights into your customer's behaviour but it's the perfect way to track what kind of content and news is trending in your industry.
Post Promotion And Advertising Options
Although you can use tools like Google AdWords to promote your website, Facebook and Twitter allow you to promote everything from your company page to individual posts and target it towards specific demographic groups.
Perfect For Content Curation
Social media isn't just a place you can share your content. Curating other people's content is a powerful way of networking with people and becoming a source of great content for other users.
Perfect Blog Promotion Tool
As I've been stressing, social media goes hand in hand with blogging and both Facebook and Twitter can be used to help promote your onsite content and drive more traffic to your blog and ultimately your website.
Although most decent websites these days are dynamic and optimised for use on mobile devices, Facebook and Twitter naturally lend themselves more to mobile use, having dedicated apps and established and tested functionality across all major mobile operating systems.
The Advantages Of Blogging
A Centralised Content Hub
As mentioned earlier, a blog can act as a centralised content hub within which you can create an archive of useful and interesting content. This will form the backbone of your online presence and draw people directly to your website as a source of information.
You Own It
One of the most important things to recognise about hosting content on your own site through a blog is that you own it. Although they don't seem to be going anywhere right now, there's no guarantee that Facebook or Twitter will be this popular for ever. Another advantage of owning the platform is that you've already got people on your site. With Facebook or Twitter you still need to get them to click through to your site.
Your Audience Is Not Limited
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, your website's potential audience is unlimited. Despite having eye watering user bases, there are still considerable numbers of people who aren't on social media or rarely check their accounts.
Your Blog Is Searchable
Your ability to search for specific content or articles in Facebook and Twitter is severely limited compared to the sophistication and reach of search engines like Google. The nature of search engines implies user intent as well, meaning that when people type a search into Google they're looking for a solution to a problem. With social media it's more about just being social.
There are a some significant SEO benefits to blogging. Creating fresh content on your website is a clear signal to Google that your site is active and will help it rank better in the search engine results pages. By creating internal links in your blog articles, you can also distribute the SEO boost of specific around your website, targeting your product or services pages. By then creating and earning links back to your blog articles, you can help your website as a whole rank higher on the search engine results pages. This just isn't an option with FB or Twitter.
Blog Posts Have A Longer Shelf Life
Because of the transient nature of Facebook and Twitter, most content is here today and gone tomorrow in terms of shelf life. Blogs couldn't be more different. With the opportunity to create a genuinely useful archive of evergreen content, you can start to pull the same users back to your site and encourage links back to your website.
Control Over Content Size And Embedded Media
To a writer a blogs is like a blank canvas. Without limitations on how long your content has to be or what kind of embedded media you can put in it, you can really let your imagination run wild. Evidence suggests that long form content has more SEO benefit and is also more likely to get read and earn links.
Better Analytics And Conversion Tracking
Whilst it's possible to track traffic and conversions in Facebook and Twitter, the insight Google Analytics gives you into user behaviour is unparalleled. You can even track referral traffic meaning you can understand which social network is bringing the most traffic to your blog.
It's easy to get caught up in a numbers game when it comes to digital marketing. The ability for Facebook or Twitter to create viral marketing campaigns can seem like the Holy Grail to any new businesses wanting to create a buzz and get its brand name out there. That doesn't mean you should neglect the huge long term potential of blogging though. In fact, as we've seen, the ability to combine the two can see the effectiveness of each amplified.
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* Lead image adapted from Shannon K