Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the largest social networks with hundreds of millions of potential clients and customers. If you’re looking to network with prospects and brand yourself online, they’re an essential part of your marketing strategy.
One of the questions I get asked frequently is, “Why do I need a blog when I have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts?” The points here will, I hope, help you understand why a blog should be the hub of your online branding and marketing efforts with social networks being your outreach posts.
1. Your Social Network Accounts Can Be Deleted Anytime
If you’ve built up thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, you account can be deleted or suspended anytime for violating their ever-changing terms of service. Even well known names in social media have had their Facebook accounts deleted, so no one is immune.
This is probably the most important reason why you should consider your social network accounts more as an outreach post than the place where you conduct your business transactions.
Having your own blog and mailing list of subscribers is a way to reduce the risk of having your social network deleted because you can email your subscribers to join up anytime you have to start fresh with a new account.
2. The “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” Syndrome
If you’re relying on your audience of social network users to be around forever, think again. In the online world, things are so fluid that a website that was once the hottest thing since sliced bread is now relegated to a niche or going begging for users.
Remember a network called Friendster, that was hot a number of years ago? Where is it now? And if you used it to build a community, you’ve probably had to shift base to Facebook or Twitter or another site now.
For users of MySpace, and even Digg, things have changed drastically in the last year. MySpace is now an entertainment-based network and Digg has undergone significant changes that have uprooted the old hierarchy.
Orkut is suffering a similar fate in India with many of its users moving to Facebook. Even Google, once the ruler of the internet, has had to give way to upstarts like Facebook. In a couple of years it may be Facebook’s turn to relinquish its space to a new player.
A blog, on the other hand, allows you to conduct your business regardless of the internet’s ever-changing mix of networks and websites. Your blog is your independent and direct line to your subscribers. Anytime you want to connect with them, you just have to post an update.
3. The “Social Butterfly” Effect
Having a page on a social network is like being invited to someone else’s party. People drop in, flit around with friends, links, and other pages – contributing to what I call the “social butterfly” effect – and leave.
Your fans may add a ‘like’ or a comment, but they’re not there to meet you exclusively. It’s harder to capture their attention for anything but a few minutes, unless you manage to engage them in a conversation on your page.
Having a blog, on the other hand is like being the host at your own party. You’re the star! You decide the theme and the conversation and everyone drops in to read your post and comment, if they feel inclined.
If nothing else, they have a takeaway – your contribution to their knowledge base. Also, you can capture their email and add them to your subscriber list so they can visit again and again.
4. Social Networks Offer Limited Branding Abilities
If you’ve ever used Facebook’s cryptic FBML (now on its way out) code to add a few bells and whistles to your page, you’ll know how complicated it can be to give your social networks a look and feel that’s similar to your business and brand.
While there are services that help you add custom code and backgrounds to your Facebook and Twitter account, it’s still not easy going for the technically-challenged.
A blog, on the other hand, is easy to customize to your own personal preferences. You can add subscription boxes and practically anything you want to improve your user’s experience and build your prospect base.
5. Blogs Can Increase Your Reach… For Years To Come
While only a few people might read your status update on Facebook, your blog post gets much more mileage and reach as a result of being indexed in search engines. You get visitors, not only from your network of a few hundred friends and acquaintances, but also from search engines.
While few people are likely to link to your status update on Facebook or Twitter, many more are likely to an actual post on your blog. And while your social network post might get you your 15 seconds of fame in real-time search results, your blog post could get a Top Ten ranking, giving you traffic and visitors for years to come.
These are just a few of the many reasons why your blog needs to be the hub of your marketing communications effort, with your social network accounts the outreach points where you connect with potential customers.