Why You Should Go on a Short Social Media Marketing Diet

Last Updated Sep 2, 2011 10:35 AM EDT

Let me guess. You're using Facebook to engage customers and drive traffic. You tweet deals and specials. You post videos on YouTube to help boost search rankings. You join LinkedIn groups to expand your presence and make connections. You even post photos on flickr to build brand exposure.

All those efforts may pay off -- yet too much focus on social media marketing may cause you to lose sight of the marketing that really works for your business.

Here's an example. As you may know from a recent post, in addition to being a ghostwriter I'm also a wedding photographer. (Because everyone should be an "and.") Most wedding photographers have websites and blogs, and many have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds and share photos on flickr. All are ways to reach potential clients; I know some photographers who spend hours a day on a variety of social media marketing efforts.

Fine... but what is the most effective form of marketing for a wedding photographer? It's not society memberships or awards (which many photographers chase relentlessly.) It's not Facebook likes or Twitter followers or potentially-viral YouTube videos.

No, the most effective form of marketing, in my experience, is getting published in The Knot. (In the actual print magazine, not just online.) The Knot is like a wedding planning bible for many brides. A wedding photographer published in The Knot gains instant credibility, instant standing in the marketplace, tons of web traffic -- and lots of new clients.

Consider this photo:


Decent photo. Won't win awards. (Not that I ever submit for awards. Waste of time. Awards are irrelevant.) All that matters is the couple loves it. So we could tweet it and facebook it and flickr it and blog why one of the horses is staring me down and YouTube the story behind the shoot... and maybe it would pay off. Maybe. A little.

Or we could put that same effort into trying to get it into The Knot. When it was published we saw an immediate wave of inquiries and bookings, a wave that didn't subside for a long time.

Same with this photo:


Again, good but not spectacular. (If you like either one, hey, much appreciated, but I'm my own worst critic.)

These are by no means my best photos... but they were the best for what The Knot wanted at the time. So while the quality of each photo certainly mattered, the exposure gained from The Knot was, from a marketing point of view, all-important.

Now think about your business. What form of marketing or specific marketing initiative drives the most business? Set aside what you "should" be doing or what's "hot" and think about results: Either the results you get, or the results you could get.

If you're a wedding photographer, you should definitely use a variety of marketing tools, but in my opinion you should be working the hardest to be published in The Knot (and to a lesser extent on sites like Brides.com, MarthaStewartWeddings.com, and others.) Why? It works.

The same is true for your business. What exposure currently works the best -- and what exposure do you dream of getting? What marketing currently drives the best results -- and what marketing could drive even better results if you changed your focus?

For some businesses it's a mention in a local paper; for others it's a direct mail campaign; for others it's establishing connections and partnerships with key players in the industry. Take a step back -- what generates or would generate the best results?

Go on a short social media diet and put the bulk of your efforts into what really works. Don't worry; social media marketing will still be on the menu when you get back.

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Photos courtesy BlackBird Images
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    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.