I am having an early morning Sunday as I write, and I am in whimsical mood. Do you know the lilting Irish ballad Cockles and Mussels our ancestors sang?

I believe it began something along these lines …

In Dublin’s fair city,

where the girls are so pretty,

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

As she wheeled her wheelbarrow

through streets broad and narrow

Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!

 Molly Malone was using an outbound marketing plan, unlike the inbound marketing sandwich boards of New York when business was down in the great depression. She was going out into the streets of Dublin and selling her wares.

Now if Sweet Molly had the money she could have built herself a shop, and put up inbound marketing posters to invite customers into her space. However she might have paid more rent than she made selling shellfish, which would have been a bad thing. If only, if only sweet Molly Malone had the internet.

But then we would have been poorer for the lack of the song. Before I move on from the streets of Dublin broad and narrow, do you suppose the people were happier, and less stressed then than we are now? Answers on a cyber card please.

Naturally, buying and selling cockles and mussels was not the only thing that happened on the streets of Dublin in Ms. Malone’s days. The city center was still largely urban, with two-storied timbered houses facing across the narrow cobbled streets. The people could reach out the windows and call to each other. Down below their children could have been playing hopscotch. I did warn you I was feeling whimsical ….

Selling Cockles and Mussels on Twitter and Facebook

I put it to you that the social media are the new streets of Dublin.

Importance of social media in inbound marketing

Where else can we call out to distant friends free, while kids discuss homework with their classmates on a second computer nearby? The social media are our new virtual society. They are the streets, galleries, piazzas and beaches where the people meet and talk. This, surely, is where sweet Molly would have charmed all with her lovely words still going viral.

We Can Stop and Smell the Roses with Our Customers

I am confident our Molly would have stopped and chatted with passersby, even if they never bought her shellfish or perhaps were not hungry on the day. She would have intuitively known and understood that friends prefer to buy from their friends, and she might have given them tasty samples to encourage this.

She probably shared free recipes too for all I know. The people talked then, as they chat on the social media now. “You should try that young lady’s cockles and mussels sometime. They are really, really good.” Perhaps we should start doing this ourselves.

importance of social media in inbound marketing

Being something of a senior I can safely admit, that when I was in high school that’s exactly what shopkeepers did. I could pop into the hardware store where I bought materials for my hobbies, meet my mates, and have a cup of tea and a chat. Would I have gone elsewhere to another store? You bet not. The conversational social media are where these exchanges are still taking place today.

As business people, we are welcome, provided we do not directly sell. Our conversations concern our industry, not our goods and services. If we provide content that it truly, truly original, new, and valuable, then people will accept our invitation to come inbound to our websites. If they encounter the same branding, they may tell their friends, and they may buy. That is a much much smarter way to generate leads.

Also Read 7 Advanced Strategies to Generate Leads with Twitter

We Can Explore New Cultures and New Market Places

Culture is just a way of doing things. Once again, likes attract likes and so we have streets of Italian restaurants attracting like minded people. I like to imagine Molly Malone as a lovely peasant girl because some of my ancestors were from that stock. I am sure she would have also sold her wares where mariners came ashore in Dublin and were looking for something better than smoked fish and dried biscuits.

The internet is a fantastic place to seek out unfamiliar groups of people we might never otherwise meet. Three things may come of this.

Firstly, we might recruit a few missionaries, and secondly we might make some sales. Thirdly, we could discover a new tweak for our products. “Does anybody fancy chili sauce on their mussels? Taste this.”

Am I being over-fanciful to write about social media marketing this way? I think not. While the computers we use to access them may be electro-mechanical devices, the people we meet there are flesh-and-blood, just like you and me. I am bridging out to you, someone I do not know across the digital divide. I put this to you there is no better way to explore new cultures and new market places. I shall use the meeting cyber piazzas to gather data when I create a buyer persona. I shall listen closely to the grapevine to pick up buzz and keywords, and to better understand where qualified leads actively engage.

Also Read 5 Steps to Creating Smart Buyer Personas

We Can Launch Our Brand Widely

Ms. Malone could never have had an iconic figure (or sold her shellfish) had she not gone out into the streets of Dublin, and had such a powerful brand. There were no toll roads then, and no subway fees. Her market was in the public domain, and she has unlimited access to it. Dare I suggest the internet is as open and nearly as free today?

Truly, truly, there is no more efficient and effective way to democratize our brand. This costs us nothing except our time engaging our markets, so we actually complete two essential tasks simultaneously. There are users out there who love nothing more than sharing newsworthy information. After we make a significant post, our brand could go viral without us doing anything else.

There are vast magnetic opportunities for inbound marketing on the web. The keys to the door are regular quality content, and dogged persistence. If these are not your beat, you may like to appoint a specialist or delegate them to an inbound specialist. The potential pickings are too rich to say, “I simply do not have the time”.

Also Read How Social Media Can Generate B2B Leads

We Can Build Our Brand Out in Our Social Media User’s Minds

There are actually three components to every brand depending on our perspective. Briefly, these are

  1. What we think our brand represents to the public domain
  2. How our brand comes across in our messages and on our website
  3. The collective experience of our brand in the minds of consumers

The third, experiential component makes or breaks our sales. Because, it is not what we say that counts, but what our market reflects back. If you have a really good idea then you need to go to market soon, and simultaneously start shaping the collective experience of your brand.

Social media are the perfect opportunity to shout your message out, start leveraging consumer experience and collect iNBOUND iNTELLIGENCE.

Social networks exist for two-way communications’ sake.

importance of social media in inbound marketing

If you produce smart dynamic content that meets this need, you will start growing the right impressions of your brand in consumers’ minds. Every positive interaction starts stacking these up. Every positive interaction is an opportunity to start drip-feeding links to the buyer personas we select.

We Can Improve Our Google Rankings with the Social Media Loop

Without a shadow of doubt, a Google hit is the most powerful inbound marketing tool. There are two ways to achieve this. The less-preferred road is paid advertising because it looks artificial, and it is expensive. Receiving an organic click is so much better because it is user-intuitively driven.

For this option to work, we need to be high up on the first page of search results. When we link our site to a social media, Google wakes up and researches how many likes, shares, and followers we achieved there. If searchers clicked through too, then this is so much the better. Forbes believes that inbound links are ‘the single most important element for achieving high rankings’. Statistically speaking, we stand to receive more of these from highly populated social media sites.

This is a hugely important aspect of social media in inbound marketing strategies: the inbound-driven SEO methodologySocial Media Examiner suggests seven phases to follow when making this happen:

  1. Treat social media like search engines
  2. Optimize your keywords for media searches
  3. Use these keywords as triggers for media posts
  4. Embed selected keywords naturally in your copy
  5. Keep them short and sweet for your lead is busy
  6. Tell them what you want before they bounce
  7. Explain why they should bother to react

Social media marketing is no longer an option, for it is the new inbound marketing medium. They literally are the sandwich board of the future, because they take us to where our qualified leads already are.

There is No Debate. The Social Media Matter Hugely. The social media are important in the inbound strategy implementation because they allow us to stop and smell the roses with customers, explore new markets, and spread our brand wide. Correctly harnessed, they enable us to build our brand in the public mind as we grow our Google rankings. Can you think of a single reason why you should not be there too?