Alternate Title: Is Social Media the New Phonebook?

Leslie A.M. Smith, PR Consultant
What route do you take?

Let me share a real conversation I recently had with a new client.

Me:      How did you meet that client?

Client: Social Media.

Me:      Good to hear! So, did you have a compelling post that they responded to? 

Client: Um, no. I saw them on social media and sent them a message. 

Hmm. I do always, ALWAYS, say that social media platforms are tools, and you can use those tools in many ways just like a hammer. It can be a paper weight if you need it to be. 

Is this networking? Yes.

Is it why we put together social media content? Not exactly. It worked out, just not how it was designed. 

In this instance my client used social media to identify possible customers and reach out to them much like using a directory or a phone book. Guess what? I have no problem with that. I have reached out to reporters via Twitter messages to great success. I know others have secured incredible keynote speakers by direct tweeting their priority list. 

Use your tools the way you want. A hammer has no opinion on whether it builds a birdhouse or a human house–neither is wrong, the tool work the same. It’s JUST A TOOL! It’s totally impartial. Use it how you want and don’t look back. 

This leads me to another question: search engine, website, or social media, where do you go first? 

To understand what our prospects do so they find us, we can start with how we use the Internet. What is your onramp to the Information Super Highway?

What Route Do You Take?

In classes that I reach, I emphasize that people will usually follow these steps:

  1. Use a search engine to look for what they want. 
  2. Then they’ll visit your website when they see it in the search results. 
  3. If they want to know more, they’ll follow you on social media. 
  4. They could wait until after they are your client to follow or like you on social media. 

Or you might …

  1. See an ad or a recommendation on social media, 
  2. Then you click to the website. 
  3. Then you go back and follow/like on social media. 

Then I attended a meeting, and someone suggested that people see things or businesses on social media first, then want to initiate a transaction from there, bypassing both a website and social media. Is that true? Do you do that? If so, does it depend on what the product is? Buying a kitchen gadget versus hiring an attorney—do you have different habits to vet the business? 

Where does word of mouth come in? Are comments on a post enough for you? Do you watch video testimonials? Do you go back and leave a comment? If so, where? If you meet a person you’d like to work with, what is your digital homework entail? 

Just What Route Do YOU Follow? Does it begin or end with a search engine?

If you’ve watched the recent Netflix show uncovering the Tinder Swindler who takes advantage of unsuspecting women, much like the perpetrator in Dirty John and many more throughout the ages. But in the most recent show I’ve watched about this same subject matter, Tinder Swindler, these young women were consistent in going to Google after viewing an acceptable or promising profile on Tinder. In the end, all over Google is where they wanted to make sure the truth about this thief showed up and deterred other women. 

Why this is important

You want to know where your prospective clients go and then create a strong presence wherever they go. To do that, you have to first know who your target markets are, then use the data to tell you where they go–in any order! I don’t espouse that a small business or local nonprofit needs to be on 25 different platforms. You only need to be on the platforms where your prospects look for you, largely using keywords to guide their search. Try to be really strong on three platforms and on Google and you should be found.

When you think about your own habits, you might become more in tune with what your customers are doing. Are you as methodical as the young women using Tinder? Help me out and tell me what route you follow to validate a purchase or start a relationship with a consultant or business partner. (You can keep your Tinder habits confidential.) Where do you start and at what point do you pledge your allegiance with a coveted like, follow, or actual purchase? 


Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of  Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits iavailable now on Amazon. Reach out with your questions about marketing and PR to be addressed in this blog.

Sign up for my e-newsletter

* indicates required

( mm / dd )

This will close in 0 seconds