Having a website seems to be important these days, but I've still come across local businesses including vets and pet shops that don't have websites and aren't interested in having one. I do agree it is important to have a website.
We're also told that social media like Facebook and Twitter is important for marketing a business. While I've gained a few clients from social media, I am skeptical as to whether the time sap is worth it.
I have a Twitter account for my business too. Twitter is for short text posts only which can include links. I can't be bothered tweeting regularly, so tend to only tweet things like the link to a new blog post (but I don't even really need to do that as have it done automatically with networked blogs).
Apparently photos and video are good to link to pet sitting websites and other social media. I recently signed up for a YouTube account, where I put short clips of pets and then share them via Facebook or embed them into my website. Using photos and video from my pet sits means I have copyright of the images and allows potential clients to see happy pets at home.
I've noticed lately that Facebook isn't showing all the posts from people connected with on news feeds. Noticed it with friends' pages first. Then recently Facebook started displaying 'percentage of people reached' on pages. The percentages are lousy, typically under 20%.
Now Facebook has announced a 'solution' - page owners can now pay per post, so that their posts show up on more people that have 'liked' them. The more people they want to 'reach' the more they cough up - and it's not exactly cheap. That doesn't mean those people will actually see the posts.
Crafty strategy from Facebook. If one wants more 'likes' they can pay for an ad in the side bar on the right. Some people play a tagging game of agreeing to 'like' each other, even if they couldn't care less about them. Having more 'likes' gives the illusion one is more popular, even if the 'likes' aren't authentic.
So now one pays for an ad if they want to try to attract more interest and likes to their page. Facebook restricts the visibility of posts and then one has to pay if they want more people to have posts show up on their feeds. A bit like if MailChimp only sends out e-newsletters to 20% of my list (and not everyone opens them either).
My previous workplace before I started my pet sitting business hired some social media consultants. (Yes, there are social media 'gurus' that get paid to advise businesses on how to market their business using Facebook, Twitter etc).
Hiring social media consultants was part of a last ditch attempt to save a sinking business. A new blog was launched along with Facebook and Twitter. I heard the business owner admit he was spending several hours each day writing blogs and writing updates on Facebook.
The Facebook page attracted thousands of likes, but a short stint of social media failed to make up for the lack of cashflow and years of poor management. I took voluntary redundancy and a few months later heard that the company went into liquidation.
I spent time searching for an easy way to set up social media buttons to add to my website. I couldn't find the ones I used last time and didn't want to fuss with downloading and placing and linking individual buttons. I found a different one that I put the url address into for each of the four social media platforms I use and it generated a piece of code for me to paste into my website that converted into a row of buttons.
While I was searching for the buttons, I came across a recent blog article with the view that people switch off to social media buttons now, just like they do to ads. The irony was that straight under the article was - you guessed it - a set of social media buttons!
Is social media worth it? I'm skeptical. I'm getting frustrated with Facebook with their new pay to play games. Only the businesses with the big bucks can afford to pay. Facebook is getting more full of ads as it is. Small businesses that used to find Facebook as a useful tool to promote their business are getting squeezed out. Just like the small punters got squeezed out from selling on ebay by the bigwigs.
Blogs are about expressing opinions. I think my blog does help with SEO too, even though I don't have the time to post regularly. Maybe I'd have more time if I didn't bother so much with social media.
I doubt this post will be seen my many if I post to Facebook (and I certainly won't be paying for their pay to play scheme). Don't think many will see on Google+ yet. Google+ hasn't really taken off, but perhaps more people will try it if frustrated with Facebook?
Google is just as annoying as Facebook with all its frequent changes. Google has moved Google Places to Google+ as Google Local. To have clients write a review means they need to sign up to Google+, but many people are unwilling to sign up to yet another internet account, even if they are happy to write a review. Reviewers also are shown up as their real name, which might put people off leaving reviews. They risk getting sued if they write a negative review.
Google seem to be just as crafty as Facebook. Changing Google Places to Google Local and requiring a Google+ account to leave a review seems like a cunning way to make businesses encourage their customers to sign up for a Google+ account. I've found Google+ somewhat confusing and I don't want to pester clients to sign up for something that seems more complicated than what it's worth.
Social media platforms come and go. Facebook, although massive, will too. I'm wary of investing too much in temporary things. I certainly won't bother with any more than the four I've been using, even occasionally. If I do decide to bother to take on another social media platform, I'll be likely to dump another (probably Twitter at this stage).
Are ads worth it? That's a topic for another blog post.