Businesses large and small face a stark new reality when it comes to engaging with clients: ignore social media marketing at your own peril.

The vast majority of companies have made the all-important first step of venturing online – developing their own websites and setting up accounts with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and similar platforms.

But for some businesses, that’s where it ends. Day-to-day operations – selling product, serving customers, getting product to market – frequently trump social media engagement. There simply isn’t the time, the money, or the staff to connect with people in the online world.

But here’s the thing: Ignoring online marketing is pretty much like opening a new business, but never telling anyone you are there. It’s no longer enough that people can find your company on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. The kiss of death is delivered when customers or prospective clients find you online and see your page hasn’t been updated for weeks, months or even longer.

A NEWS page on your website is useless when the NEWS is three months old. And online engagement isn’t engagement when you don’t take the time to be mindfully present – retweeting, reposting, adding fresh material and reaching out to the people who take the time to find you in that great, big Internet marketplace. That means you have to take the time to actively return the favour, whether it’s conversing with like-minded companies, community groups, individuals and other followers.

Another social media fail occurs when businesses use online platforms simply to promote product sales. Who wants to read posts day in and day out that sell, sell, sell? If that’s your goal, buy an ad. The most successful social media marketing occurs when companies skilfully develop an online voice – an identity, if you will – and use that familiar voice to tell stories that customers can relate to.

So as you ponder whether your company can truly afford NOT to engage online, we’d like to share two recent articles that underscore the value of social media marketing. The first, published in the Globe and Mail, explores how iconic British fashion house Burberry has reached a new generation of customers by recognizing the power of storytelling vs. sales in its social media strategy. The second article, which we found on, explores the struggles businesses face in terms of developing content marketing strategies. We hope you enjoy.

Why businesses must make time for social media marketing