Social media marketing can do a lot of things for you and your business. Thats the party line, and it works. Social can help you with things like:

Building trust and authority

Social media puts you right in the thick of things with the consumer. When they ask questions, youre there to answer. The more often you answer questions " and leave the sales out of it -, the more likely people are to think of a question, remember you, and go directly to you for the answer. They begin to trust you to answer, which, in turn, builds a sense of authority when they think of you and/or your business.

Bringing publicity

If youre a small business owner, and especially if youre first starting out, its hard to be noticed. Youre one small fish in a huge ocean full of monstrosities " the Walmarts, Targets, and Amazons of the world. Social media can help bring you the publicity you wouldnt otherwise get, because it brings you immediately into the consumers eyesight.

Bringing traffic

Yes, you will get traffic using social media. Without a plan, you cant guarantee the quality; more traffic doesnt guarantee sales; you may not get a lot of traffic. All those things aside, however, social does bring traffic.


Back in December 2010, Matt Cutts (head of Googles Webspam Team, if you dont recognize the name) spilled the beans to the public at large. Yes, Google uses social signals as ranking factors. Of course, he was quick to point out it was a new development that hadnt been the case a few months before. Hmmm.

Anyway, Google conspiracy theories and potential cover-ups aside, this means social really can help your site rank. What it doesnt mean is that you should go out and post links all over the place. You cant just have all your friends retweet you. It doesnt work like that. In fact, it works much like site votes do:

 clip_image002 Person A posts links

clip_image002[1] Important People retweet and talk about these links

clip_image002[2] Person A becomes an Authority

clip_image002[3] You post links

clip_image002[4] Person A, with Authority, retweets your link and talks about it, giving it more weight

clip_image002[5] Wash, rinse, repeat

The list is a simplified version, of course, but you get the gist; social, with all its conversations, retweets, links and so on, can help boost your sites authority (and thus, its rank).

Why, social is the end all and be all of online marketing

Social media is the saving grace of businesses everywhere. If your business is dying, just jump on the social media bandwagon and all your dreams come true ish.

Okay, so there was a heavy dose of sarcasm there, mixed with the truth. Social media marketing really can do many things, but there are a few it cant do " and those few things are doozies.

Social Media Cant Save You From Yourself

It doesnt take very much communication to get an idea of a person. Social media cant change the innate qualities that make you who you are. For example, if the majority of people in the real world think youre a douche bag, chances are the majority of your social connections will, too.

On the other hand, you cant pretend to be something youre not. A persona cant be kept up for long without holes appearing in the faade. Be yourself " save the role-playing for things like Dungeons and Dragons.

Social Media Cant Turn Coal Into Diamonds

If youre using social media marketing to bring people to your site, the content has to stand up to the original promise. In other words, if youre good at writing interesting one-liners and your tweets get a lot of traffic, the content had better be interesting, as well. If your content is crap, social cant turn it into starlet quality.

As well, social media cant turn a poor site into a fantastic one, and it cant sell products or services people arent interested in. It cant give sex appeal to hemorrhoid products; it cant turn making custom banana peel shoes into a high-demand service.

What it can do is give great feedback to help you improve these things; however, you have to be willing to listen. "And, once you listen, you have to be willing to take constructive criticism and make a change. For instance, you cant take criticism and respond negatively on a social platform; people are watching.

Social Media Cant Be A Quick Fix

You cant hop onto a social media because you have a reputation problem and expect that problem to go away. You cant start tweeting because sales are plummeting and see sales flourish once more. To have any kind of affect in the case of bad PR or plummeting sales, your social media accounts have to already be established. You have to have the connections in place before they can do any good.

Social media marketing isnt quick. Its time consuming and cant be completely automated. In fact, the only companies who see instant success on social networks are companies like Google or Ford. In other words, companies that are already well loved and have a loyal following. They had the connections in place through brand trust long before social media came along.

Social Isnt Your Honey Pot

A lot of people hop on social media platforms expecting great things " and great things can happen. However, it takes time, patience and dedication to the cause to even begin to see movement. Its not your honey pot of all things good for my business. You cant just reach in and grab up success.

With all that in mind, knowing what social can and cant do for you, dont get discouraged just because its been a month and you only have 100 followers. Thats good for small business owners just starting out. Just like it takes time to build real world relationships, it takes time to build online connections. Be realistic about what you expect and have a plan in action; these two things can make all the difference on how well your social experience turns out.