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Twitter’s turmoil, Facebook’s constant algorithm shifts and TikTok’s untrustworthiness with users’ data has lots of businesses wondering if social media advertising still is the marketing necessity it used to be.

If your audience congregates on social media, that’s still one of the best ways to reach them, says online marketing and business growth consultant Tom McClintock, owner of Relationship Martech,

“One of the first rules of marketing is to communicate on channels your customers want,” McClintock said.

The turbulence and uncertainty on platforms like Twitter and Facebook mean that “we might modify a little bit how we use them, but I personally would not just abandon them,” said speaker, author and trainer Kevin Knebl, owner of social selling and relationship marketing professional services firm Knebl Communications.

“If you want to go fishing, go where the fish are.”

Kristen Faith Sharpe, a consultant who works with nonprofits and women entrepreneurs through her companies The Nonprofit Makeover and Boss Babe Network, recommends that businesses look at their websites as digital business cards and social media as a way to convene communities and engage with current and potential clients.

“I would recommend both, because they both have their own benefits.”


“Twitter has never been an exceptionally strong advertising platform,” McClintock said, “but Facebook put together a high-tech advertising platform. You could do retargeting, and you could create custom audiences. That’s very sophisticated marketing, and it does pay off.”

“Twitter has been good for reaching out with your brand and getting engagement with your users, and particularly as a customer service channel,” he said. “Something like 85 percent of companies say that a Twitter customer service channel is necessary for conducting business.”

Small businesses can still benefit by cultivating a social media audience on these platforms, creating an editorial calendar and consistently posting or Tweeting.

McClintock recommends that posts or Tweets contain marketing messages “that are based on your differentiators as compared to your competitors.”

Facebook and Twitter are the largest platforms, but Instagram is popular as well, and TikTok “can be effective if you’ve got more of a younger audience,” he said.

“First, consider your message points by doing a positioning exercise that compares you to your competitors,” he said. “Then, after you’ve figured out what your message points are, test, test, test. Just try different avenues of getting your message out there and track your cost per lead and cost per sale. And then invest in what’s working and scrap what’s not.”

A good customer relationship management system is essential, McClintock said. “Data is so much more important in marketing than it’s ever been. There are lots of opportunities to collect, warehouse, analyze and visualize data, and if you don’t have a good CRM, you’re probably not able to do that the way you need to in today’s marketplace.”

A successful marketing strategy doesn’t rely strictly on social media, however.

“Email marketing is very effective,” McClintock said. “We don’t talk about it as much because it’s not sexy. But email marketing is one of the few channels that you can completely control the experience without having to worry about competing messages disrupting the space. You pick the time, you pick the subject line, you pick the offer, you pick the design, you pick the graphics, you pick the frequency, and you pick the audience.”

Diversifying social media use can help businesses weather changes in algorithms and advertising costs, he said. Those are things to keep in mind, as well as the fact that China uses TikTok for data farming.

“China has made it clear that they don’t worry about international intellectual property laws or ownership rights,” he said. “I would not assume that anything you give them is going to be secure. Does that mean you should never advertise on TikTok? No, because the big tech companies in the U.S. aren’t very trustworthy either.”


Knebl, coauthor of The Social Media Sales Revolution, said businesses need to keep in mind that people will do business with people they know, like and trust — a maxim he learned from networking and referral expert Bob Burg.

 “If I can figure out a way to create sincere and authentic know, like and trust in the mind of my prospect, it’s just a matter of time until I either do business with them or they become a referral source,” Knebl said. “Most people are running around chasing SEO or the newest flavor of the month as it relates to marketing, but it always comes back to know, like, trust.”

Knebl recommends a three-step system for using social media. Step 1 is finding people and being found by people using the power of targeting.

“That has become ridiculously simple,” he said. “I could go on LinkedIn right now, and if you told me you wanted to do business with females within 20 miles of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who went to Rutgers University and like mountain climbing, it would literally take me 30 seconds to find those people.”

Step 2: “Once you identify them, or they identify you, you have to draw them into a conversation,” he said. “At the end of the day, your success is going to come down to your knowledge of conversation and relationship-building skills.”

Step 3 is “building a little like and trust so when they’re ready to do business, they do business with you,” he said. “If you think about it, that’s the way business worked before the invention of the internet.”

Once you’ve built some know, like and trust, “it’s easy to move the conversation to how your services could help them without it being a heavy sales pitch,” he said.


You can think of social media like a cocktail party, Knebl said. There’s always some guy who keeps talking about himself, and you don’t want to be that guy.

“The challenge for most people is that the ways they attempt to stay top of mind with their prospects actually repel the prospects,” he said.

To avoid that, you want to draw upon your conversation skills.

“You stay top of mind by being interesting and taking a sincere interest in them,” he said. “I almost never talk about my services, but I’m always busy. People tell me they go to my social media accounts because they find it interesting.”

One area Knebl avoids is politics.

“Before I post something, I say to myself, is this something that is going to deepen know, like and trust?” he said. “Why wouldn’t I just post something a bit more lighthearted or interesting or inspiring? Because that’s what people need.”

Staying engaged with your followers and your community is a best social media practice, Sharpe said.

“If you’re looking to really grow your social media presence, you have to be active,” she said. “If people are commenting on your posts or messaging you online, respond to them. People want to know that you’re a real person and that you care about what you’re offering.”

Creating original content is best, she said, but users can easily find shareable content including news stories and information about your industry.

“How I like to use social media is to use my actual life experiences to empower people in their own lives,” she said. “A lot of the content that I’m sharing is tips and tricks or a day in the life of Boss Babe.”

Uploading video is a plus for most social media platforms, she said.

Facebook has taken a page from TikTok and Snapchat’s playbooks and created a feature called Reels, where business can post short video content.

“You want to make sure that you grab your viewers’ attention immediately when you’re posting Reels,” she said, “and the content you’re producing should tell a story. You can talk about how you’ve impacted the community, or why your company started. It isn’t so much, sell, sell, sell your product, but you make a connection with the product and people want to learn more.”

There’s a difference between just posting a selfie and telling a story.

“Don’t use your business social media as a personal platform,” she said, “but incorporate your personal life into your business to really share your story.”

The smart small business owner will learn to use the social media tools at their disposal, Knebl said, “but at the end of the day, it’s still going to come back to delivering value to your clients.”

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