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Digital marketing expert: websites still key for business

Sean Masters, of Socialprise, says it is easy for local retailers to jump up in SEO rankings, with the right organic strategy (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Since the pandemic began, many small businesses have been skipping website development altogether and going straight to social media promotion.

But Sean Masters, founder of digital marketing company Socialprise, is warning that while social media is useful, it is too capricious to depend on entirely.

“Significant changes are happening in the digital world, and your business should invest in a website and SEO for long-term growth,” Mr Masters said.

He has 15 years of experience in the business, working for major overseas firms such as the British Broadcasting Company and Speedo and Lego, and locally with clients such as Current Vehicles, Island Restaurant Group and Select Sites.

He pointed to social media site TikTok which has more than 3.8 billion users.

“This popular social media platform faces an ongoing threat of being banned in the US and the European Union due to national security and data privacy concerns,” Mr Masters said.

He said many companies would be left scrambling to find alternatives if TikTok was suddenly banned in this part of the world.

And social media sites such as Instagram – particularly popular with local entrepreneurs – is also unstable, because it changes its algorithm frequently, often leaving users scrambling to keep up.

“Social media platforms have become the lifeblood of the marketing strategies of many businesses’ in today’s digital era,” Mr Masters said. “While these platforms offer many benefits, it’s essential to understand that they are ultimately rented spaces that can prove unstable. What would happen if Facebook closed tomorrow? How would you keep in touch with your customers?”

The mercurial nature of social media has caused several major overseas brands such as Lush, to cancel their Instagram, TikTok and Facebook accounts, to focus more on their web development.

“You maintain control over your online presence by investing in your website and SEO,” Mr Masters said. “You can adapt to changes in the digital landscape more effectively without being solely dependent on any particular social media platform.”

Mr Masters said when he first started in digital marketing 15 years ago, Google was just taking off as a search engine and digital adverts were emerging.

“Social media is a great way to promote your brand, but one of the challenges is that it is becoming increasingly expensive,” he said. “On Instagram, for you to get that organic reach, you need to be spending $500 to $2,000 or more, just to reach eyeballs locally.”

He argued that it is actually easier to get brand ranking with organic content on a website, by investing in your SEO and solid content marketing.

“You have to get that public reputation brand management side of things done,” he said. “Then you have social media doing it as well for you.”

He said in Bermuda, it is actually really easy for retailers and brands to jump up in the SEO rankings, with the right kind of organic strategy.

He said the pandemic doubled down on people’s focus on building a solid website that has e-commerce functionality and built-in security.

“Sargasso Sea is a great example of that home-delivery option that really grew out of the pandemic,” he said. “Social media is a great way to connect and promote your brand, but a new website is really needed to do the heavy lifting of social commerce.”

He said a professional, well-designed website can help establish credibility and trust with potential customers.

“While social media profiles can provide a snapshot of your business, a website offers a more comprehensive view of your company's values, products, and services,” he said.

“Additionally, a strong SEO strategy can help you rank higher in search results, further enhancing your credibility in the eyes of potential customers.”

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Published April 26, 2023 at 7:42 am (Updated April 26, 2023 at 11:02 am)

Digital marketing expert: websites still key for business

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