Facebook celebrates its 7th year in business this month. I don’t think the phrase “you’ve come a long way, baby” is more appropriate. As of the first of the year, Facebook reported daily active users of 757 million out of a total of 1.23 billion monthly active users. 71% of online adults in the US use Facebook. Whoa. Twitter is a bit behind with just 18% of online adults and about 218 million active users.
The big question is, does this matter to me? Does my business need to be social? Google’s own Matt Cutts recently said that Facebook and Twitter are not part of Google’s search ranking algorithms or a factor in how you rank on their search engine. Most web companies will tell you that you still need some sort of presence on some of these sites as its “part of the social media mix that makes up a good online strategy.” That’s sound advice for most businesses. Other web companies will tell you it’s critical and you must be doing daily posts on Facebook to be effective. We’re skeptical of this guidance.
Overall, everyone will agree on one thing: no one is entirely sure what the best answer is. Doing absolutely nothing on social is probably not a good idea. But if you are a smaller, regional medical practice, should you be on every single social medium there is? Absolutely not. Should you be on Facebook and spend a small amount of time encouraging new fans and updating them on specials and perhaps new content from your blog? Sure.
Social media matters as part of your marketing mix because being successful isn’t just about opening up shop and turning on the lights. It’s about creating a full circle brand about YOU and that means being social, getting good reviews, and creating ongoing good content for the world to see. There is absolutely no need to be social on every single medium out there. Some are complete fads, and some just aren’t going to be a good fit for your business. Even Facebook has seen their user base shift significantly from web- based to mobile. Of that 757 million mentioned above, 556 million (over 73%) are coming in from their mobile device. They aren’t looking at your page, they are looking at their personal wall and their friends and posting pictures of their food and their cats. They are less likely to be there to shop for what your business offers so when you post, keep it relevant to your brand.
Adam Stetzer, an author from Search Engine Watch, recently describe social media very well: Social Media is the yeast in the bread. It helps make the recipe work, but is not generally something you can taste directly.