The advent of social media has drastically changed the way businesses interact with their audience, becoming the new face of marketing. But what exactly are its pros and cons?
Using social media as a marketing tool is an easy and cost-effective way for businesses to create a personalised bond with their customers while also making an impression in their industry. In fact, social media’s influence is so far-reaching that it is now being used for customer services and public relations.
Some of social media marketing’s advantages include the following:
- Easy to use and cost-effective
- Improved site traffic and search engine rankings
- Personalised audience interaction
- Wider audience reach
- Access to customer insights
But this doesn’t mean that digital platforms don’t come with its own set of disadvantages.
Some of its common pitfalls are the following:
- Risk of brand and reputation damage
- ROI may be difficult to quantify
Easy to use and cost-effective
The tech revolution has allowed people from all walks of life to have access to technology—it’s almost impossible to meet someone who doesn’t use at least one social media platform. This is what makes social media marketing so cost-effective—businesses rarely have to shell out money in order to market their products and services.
While making sure that the business easily reaches its audience, usually more traditional marketing methods cost higher and are more arduous.
A lot of business profiles for social media platforms can be used for free, if not for a very low price. This means that businesses can get significant returns without having to invest heavily. While paid digital advertisements are also available, these are completely optional and businesses can survive without having to pay for these ads.
Social media marketing is also pretty easy to put into action, since creating and maintaining business profiles require a simple approach. Moreover, social media platforms usually have guidelines for social media marketers, as well as tips on how businesses can maximise the potential of their social media profiles.
Improved site traffic and search engine rankings
Social media platforms allow businesses to link their websites to their business profiles. If the majority of the business’ audience are social media users, chances are customers will more likely click the business’ website link and explore it for more details— improving the business website’s traffic.
Once site traffic improves, the business will also eventually experience improvements in search engine rankings—much more soy if the business utilises SEO targeting methods. Using social media marketing also has the potential to boost the conversion rates of the business.
Personalised audience interaction
One glaring advantage that social media marketing has over other traditional marketing methods is its ability to bring businesses closer to their audiences on a personalised level.
Social media platforms have features, such as comments and direct messages, that allows customers to easily interact with businesses and makes it easier for businesses to address customer concerns.
Some of the recent features of social media platforms such as live streaming, polls and Instagram and Facebook stories can also give businesses opportunities to creatively interact with their audience.
This interaction can results in heightened audience interaction, positive customer feedback and services and customer loyalty—allowing businesses to create authentic relationships with their audience.
Wider audience reach
Since a lot of people have social media access, business owners who utilise social media marketing for their businesses have a higher chance of reaching a wider audience base as compared to exclusively using traditional marketing methods.
As of the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.2 billion active users, Twitter had 330 million active users and Instagram having 800 million active users in September 2017.
The sheer number of people using social media platforms is enough to convince business owners that using even just one platform will be enough for their business to gain more traction and attract more customers. Learn more about the best social media platform for businesses here.
Aside from wider audience reach, social media marketing also allows businesses to effectively target a specific audience based on their socio-demographics. This means that businesses can customise marketing strategies based on the individual characteristics and preferences of their audience.
Access to customer insights
An important feature of social media business profiles is readily gaining access to valuable customer and marketing insights. These insights allow businesses to gain essential information with regards to the activity of their customers and their needs and preferences which can serve as a basis for making smart marketing decisions.
Traditional marketing methods slower in acquiring customer and marketing insights compared to social media marketing strategies—often taking a quarter, a half-year or a year to receive.
Social media listening is a popular feature on all social media platforms and it allows businesses to track audience activity. This allows businesses to access what customers are saying about the brand, what improvements and optimisations need to be made within the business and how they rank in contrast to competitors. Information from social media listening can also be used to improve marketing strategies and other business aspects, such as customer services.
Maintaining a social media presence can be very grueling and time-consuming, especially for businesses with a small team of digital marketers. Social media marketing can be done by a single person during its early stages of implementation. But as the business’ online presence grows, so should the number of people handling its social media platforms.
In fact, in 2015, the number of marketers who focus on social media marketing for more than 11 hours a week comes in at a staggering 58 per cent. If the marketing strategy does not yield decent results, the strategy might prove to be a waste of time, especially since the time spent can be used to attend to other business concerns.
A typical digital marketing team consists of individual persons tasked to monitor and create posts, respond to comments and messages and strategists who plan for future content, increasing the costs. Businesses should shell out more for social media marketing strategies as it is a worthy and necessary investment in the digital age.
Risk of brand and reputation damage
While creating and managing an online presence is a sure way for businesses to create brand awareness, there is also an accompanying risk of brand damage. Anything posted in social media platforms can be held directly against the business: comments, message replies and content. Business owners should take care when it comes to posting anything online.
Aside from brand damage, social media profiles are also vulnerable to online harassment and malicious information that could ruin their business’ reputation. Business owners must be prepared to deal with these instances and incorporate proper damage control in order to save the company’s image.
ROI may be difficult to quantify
Businesses which rely on social media marketing might find it hard to accurately quantify the return on investment (ROI) on their social media activity. Luckily, there are ways for businesses to learn how to quantify ROI. Business owners are encouraged to learn how to measure activity feedback in order to gauge the overall performance of the business.
Social media marketing might have its advantages, but business owners should keep in mind that this marketing sphere isn’t as perfect as it seems. While the risks pose a clear threat to any kind of business, these can be mitigated by proper planning and execution and by hiring a social media professional which can guide the business and help it grow.