Can Social Media be Your Primary Marketing Strategy?

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It is no secret that social media is turning into quite the process. It’s becoming more and more important, so many different tools and advice columns keep popping up to help businesses and individuals stay organized and successful when it comes to this newer marketing effort. This has caused many companies to create a full-time social media position for experts to help manage the many social accounts, follow analytics, get creative with engagement, etc. It takes a lot of time and effort, but the payoff is only increasing as social involvement increase, so it’s easy to ask yourself: Can I get away with making my social media strategy my primary marketing strategy?

The Defense: A Case for a Social Media Marketing Strategy

No matter what your reasons are for putting all of your energy and resources into social media marketing, most are always thinking about the scenarios in which this idea might actually work. Below are a few instances where this strategy could potentially show success:

  • If you have a very small budget. 

Those who ask this question are typically small businesses on a budget, and rightfully so. Social media is one of the most inexpensive ways to get the word out there about your business. Although a company may have to pay an expert or a team of experts to make it happen (after all, if this is your primary method you want to be present on every single account from StumbleUpon to Quora to Slideshare), that’s the price that you pay for any marketing efforts you adopt. The only difference here, however, is that this will likely still be the least expensive.

  • If your company targets an audience that is very active on social media.

While you might miss out on opportunities by neglecting other marketing strategies, you can still earn success (and save money) if you know that most of your audience is active on social media. If you have done enough research to know that your product or service resonates well with this age group, and you know that some of your past clients and customers found you on social media or find other companies via social media, you have yourself a good outlet.

  • It can be targeted and easy to find analytics.

Social media is easy to target because social networks have so much specific information about its users (most of this information voluntarily given to the networks by the users). When it comes to buying ad space on a site like Facebook, you can make sure that you’re targeting to those in your audience the same way you would with buying ad space on a search engine like Google (this is a huge advantage for companies that have found the first two points to be true; otherwise you might be better off with Google). Most of the major social networks such as Facebook and Google+ also have built in analytics to help you determine which posts are getting the post traction and the demographics of those in your network.

The Prosecution: Why Even A Small Business Needs More than Social Media Marketing

The prosecution has tons of statistics on its side. A few reasons why you might need more than just a social strategy include:

  • Plain and simple, more visitors come from search than social media.

According to a previous Search Engine Journal post, a study by Outbrain showed that search is the number 1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300 percent. Every site needs traffic, and it seems that search is the place to really find it.

  • It isn’t as successful when it comes to conversions.

Social media is wonderful for visibility and engagement, but it’s harder to draw leads from social media as opposed to SEO. People use social media to socialize, but they use search to discover new things at a time when they are ready.  A Search Engine Watch article details a study that surveys users about when they use search and when they use social to gain information, and the only time social prevailed was when talking about “discussion.

The Verdict: A primary strategy works well, but it rarely works as your only strategy.

So this might seem like a lazy answer, but let me explain. Social media can be your primary marketing strategy, but it’s best to think of it only as the primary strategy for certain things. For example, it might very well be your primary marketing strategy for building your individual brand. It might very well be your primary strategy as a startup looking to save money. It might be your primary strategy when you are targeting a younger demographic (which might be the majority of the time). It’s all about what you’re focusing on at a given moment.

So what about social media marketing being your only strategy? It seems as though it would work in certain instances, but you simply can’t discount the fact that your business is going to change and have more needs as it develops. In other words, social media marketing can definitely be an overall primary strategy for some, but it shouldn’t be the only strategy used to sell your product or service. The prosecution wins this one, but not by a lot.

Do you think that a business could be successful if they employed social media marketing as their primary way to market the company? Are you a business that has succeeded or failed when attempting this idea? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit:

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a... Read Full Bio
Amanda DiSilvestro
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  • Casey S. McClure

    Thanks for the advice, Amanda! It’s good to hear your clarification. I’ll be sure to share with others in my organization who have been asked whether social media is enough.

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      Excellent–I heard this question and thought it was a great one because there are so many tempting reasons to just go all-in with social media. Thanks for reading!

    • Sahil

      Great Post Amanda! For some small & medium businesses which mainly wants to create brand awareness, spread an interesting fact or an interesting offer for their product to create buzz, for them social media would definitely be a primary channel if not the only channel. Have seen some brands using only social media to create buzz or brand awareness online.

  • Carlie Hamilton

    Great post! I agree that social media shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy. I would love to hear more about any businesses that have succeeded using it as their only marketing, that would be interesting to read about!

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      I completely agree–hopefully someone will stop by soon. When I was researching I found a company in India that says they focus only on social media, but the article wasn’t that great and other than that no one has really discussed this idea. Thanks for reading!

  • Matt Coffy

    Well said, Amanda. Your presentation has given clarity to which tools are best at what phase of a marketing plan is. Certainly social media allows consumers gain more information of a product/service. but that is not enough to secure good ROI. Search, as you’ve mentioned has the lead for converting potential leads into sales. In any case, diversification is best to maximize resources as you may want smart investment.

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      Love that last sentence–well said!