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In business, when is too much of a good thing just that: too much? More precisely, when it comes to online marketing for small businesses, when does too much reliance on the powers of Facebook and Twitter start to become a detriment to the long-term success of your business? Or even a bubble you should watch out for?
I’ve been giving this some considerable thought over the past few weeks. It always starts with a brief realization that despite the numerous marketing benefits of both platforms, each seems to be a bit overleveraged and oversaturated in terms of their true marketing benefits for small-business owners. In a world of 50 millions tweets per day and 100-plus million global users (only a fraction of whom are actually active), are we, as marketers, overemphasizing the benefits of Facebook and Twitter to the detriment of small businesses we represent?
I was reminded of this thought the other day by a comment from Eric Goldstein, CEO of the social commentary platform Almplify, when he randomly posed the question: “I wonder if we’ll look back on these days and realize there was a Facebook and Twitter bubble.”
“I’m thinking of it from the user perspective. I can’t help but think that both Twitter and Facebook are services that started as ways for individuals to communicate with each other and now they are rapidly becoming platforms for marketers to reach customers. While this has thus far seemed to cause little friction, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point, people look for other places to hang out. Not necessarily predicting they will, just saying I wouldn’t be surprised.”
From someone who runs a social network himself, that’s a pretty powerful question, as one commenter mused. But it also speaks volumes about the state of social marketing now that Facebook has nearly 500 million global users, Twitter’s seen as a savior for the cash- and time-strapped small business owner and some pundits are even calling for businesses to literally dump their company’s websites in favor of an all-Facebook and all-Twitter platform for their company.
All that begs the question: What happens if these platforms fail? Or, perhaps just as worse, what if they are subject to a massive virus attack?
Don’t laugh quite yet. Nothing truly lasts forever, and the digital age has already proven itself to be quite fleeting. If a small business wouldn’t put all of its marketing dollars and resources into a single offline strategy (say, direct mail), instead, opting to diversify its efforts with multiple offline marketing strategies and tools in case one doesn’t quite pan out, then why would it make sense to do so with your online and social marketing efforts?
It’s becoming fairly clear to those of us who work in the tech and and media industries that Facebook and Twitter are locked in a massive battle for the world’s social media and online advertising/marketing attention, and while Facebook has the upper-hand at the moment, who’s to say this competitive battle won’t leave both social networks on life support? And if that happens, do you really want to have all of your online/social marketing efforts tied to just those two platforms?
I’m certainly not saying Facebook or Twitter don’t have a place in a small business’ marketing plans. They absolutely do, as each offers tremendous resources and a vast audience to build a brand digitally, but at the end of the day, I would simply advise against thinking either can be a one-stop marketing shop for your brand. Truly great marketing, whether offline or online, requires a unique mix of several different channels tailored to your company’s individual audiences and business goals.
And that right mix may or may not need to include a sole reliance on Facebook and/or Twitter.
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