Oh, how the times have changed. Over the past few years, social media has morphed from a medium where people simply socialize with one another, to one of the most powerful vehicles in the world for marketing and promotion of businesses. Social media marketing can be described as any marketing effort which is carried out via a social media platform; i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. More and more businesses are weaving social media marketing into the fabric of marketing ecosystem and advertising efforts. And those that have already deployed social media marketing campaigns are doubling their budgets in 2019.
But as is life, there are two sides to every coin. And social media marketing is no exception. It only proves successful if done properly and effectively. And as with everything in this world, there are rules and contingencies to successful social media marketing. Failure to abide by the rules can result in detrimental effects on your brand or business.
It is important you carry out proper research and be well informed about all aspects of this marketing effort before you subscribe to it. But the time is now, as the rise in social media marketing has also given rise to the brand value of your competitors who may already be engaged in campaigns the likes of influencer marketing. Being a successful marketing manager demands the ability to walk a fine line of patience and execution. The benefits can be limitless, but the pitfalls are not to be overlooked. So here are both the pros and cons of social media marketing, for a marketing manager. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Pros of social media marketing
- Just about everyone is on social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram aren’t merely domains comprised of teens and millennials. And we didn’t even mention LinkedIn, which is surging in popularity at the moment. Social media now attracts all demographics and ages. In fact, Facebook’s fastest-growing segment is the over 55s. If this rise in popularity in a demographic that has been largely resistant to embracing social media is occurring, it’s a clear indication of the power social media carries in today’s cultural and business landscapes.
- It stimulates relationship building – People like to establish personal connections not only with their family and friends but with the brands and individuals they choose to spend their money with. The personal dialogue you can create on social media makes it a powerful asset for building a deeper affinity with customers and potential clients, while simultaneously building brand loyalty.
- It increases brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing – What makes social media so powerful is the opportunity it produces to spread your offers and messages amongst thousands, even millions of people in a matter of seconds with the click of a button. And given that in the current world, almost every person owns a smartphone, desktop or a laptop, and they spend a lot of time in social media sites, implementing a social media marketing strategy greatly improves product recognition, since you will be interacting with a vast audience.On top of this, you can build word-of-mouth marketing traction from having your content shared and discussed on social platforms, which also feeds the brand awareness we just mentioned. It also produces an opportunity to turn your customers into brand ambassadors. Getting people to interact with your product and social content creates awareness among the public, which in turn could eventually lead to converting them into potential clients or customers.
- It helps you gain market insight and learn more about customers – If your brand is listening and participating in their online conversations, you can find out more about your customers’ likes, dislikes, problems, and preferences. And in order for any business to be successful, they must know what their customers need, in addition to their opinions and interests. Social media platforms are arguably the best place to collect such data, as you can connect and communicate with your customer base in a personal and direct manner. Gaining this information gives you an opportunity to learn the aspects of your business you can improve upon in order to get ahead of the competition.
- It’s cost effective – It shouldn’t be daunting to get started on social media. Creating profiles and pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is quick, easy and free to do. Creating a new profile and signing in is free for almost every social media. Those that usually charge, the amount is minute compared to the overall returns. Social media marketing is arguably the most cost-effective method of advertising any product in the market today. Saving on advertisement expenses ensures greater returns and investments. Especially when the initial cost is non-existent.
- It increases inbound traffic – Getting started on social media marketing platforms can increase inbound traffic for your brand. This typically occurs as a result of your potential customers’ ability to find your product with ease. Without a social presence or social media profile on the primary platforms, people will simply go searching for your product by name or website address. This is very limiting, especially to those who have yet to discover your brand. Having a social presence greatly increases the size and effectiveness of the net you cast for your marketing efforts.
- It gives your brand personality – Every brand in today’s world needs to have a singular, unique identity in order to stand out and rise above the competition. So it’s not just about owning a social media account. You need to be creating content and dialogue. Publishing posts every day (or whatever content cadence your brand decides upon) can develop people’s perception of your brand’s personality very quickly through your writing style and tone of voice.
- It helps you gain feedback – Feedback is essential in learning about your customers, and how they view your brand and product. You can ask questions and run polls to gain valuable insight into how you can improve your products and services.
- It improves your Customer Service and Satisfaction – It’s 2019, so people don’t rely on email and the phone to get their questions answered anymore. In fact, those days have long been gone. What they’re doing now instead are posting messages in blogs and forums to get their questions answered and their issues resolved. Social media enables you to be responsive to the evolving nature of customer service in the digital age, and improve loyalty as a result.In addition, social media marketing allows your brand to respond to a specific customer through an online interaction. Customers truly appreciate receiving personalized responses when they post comments on your brand’s page, rather than getting an automated message response. It shows that you are attentive, caring, and committed to establishing a personal connection with your customers. As a marketer, this puts you in an advantageous position, since more customers will likely be attracted to your brand.
- It helps with Crisis marketing – As a brand, when something goes wrong, your customers want to know how you’re going to make it right. And they also want this resolution to take place as quickly as possible. Many customers aren’t going to wait around for a press release or newspaper article prior to forming a negative opinion about your lackluster or untimely response. Twitter, for example, can be utilized to get your apologies out fast and enable you to respond to questions from a concerned customer.
Cons of social media marketing
- It’s time-consuming – Social media is often (and accurately) described as an ‘online conversation or interaction’. So in order to create success on social, you need to be constantly feeding your pages and profiles with interesting, valuable comments and content in order to keep people interested and engaged. This includes monitoring the comments on these platforms as well and responding to them on a daily basis. Being consistent, interesting, and relevant at all times can also be difficult to maintain. They always say it’s easier to get to the top then it is to stay there.
- It’s very competitive – Due to the rapid growth of digital marketing, particularly influencer marketing, there has been an equally rapid surge in the volume of brands who want to get in on the action and try to secure a piece of the social media marketing pie. It seems like it’s almost daily that a new influencer marketing agency is popping up, or that an already established brand or media company is dipping their toes into the waters of social marketing, and embarking on a business service expansion that includes social media marketing. Fact is, when there’s as much money to be had as there is in this industry right now, everyone wants to strike while the iron is hot and claim their own share of the market.
- It can take time to see real ROI – Although you can achieve reasonably quick results from implementing strategies like influencer marketing, social media in its entirety is more of a long haul strategy than a ‘get rich quick’ tactic. It can take months, sometimes even years, before you start seeing tangible results that translate into increased sales and customer loyalty. Even Rome wasn’t built in a day.
- It can dilute your brand voice – Consistency is key in many aspects of life, and managing your brand’s social media is certainly no different. Communicating with a unified, specific voice and consistent tone in your messaging is critical to maintaining the voice you build for your brand. If you have more than one person posting messages on your brands’ social media sites, it can potentially lead to unfavorable results due to inconsistencies in the tone of your messaging and general dialogue.
- It presents a risk of negative comments – This is a reality that anyone who partakes in social media faces. But much like the ability one has to enhance or self-sabotage their own personal reputation through the use of social media, the same ability applies to companies that utilize social platforms as well. If you use social media clumsily, or worse, find yourself immersed in public scandal, there’s a risk of a public backlash and damage to your brand’s reputation. Social Media Today did a great article on when social media backfires.
- It can result in a loss of control – On the heels of discussing the risk of negative comments, there are deeper layers to that potential vulnerability. Remember, anything you publish on social media is open to comment and criticism. Providing an environment for people to post negative comments about your company is enough to keep most marketers up at night. If you don’t control the dialogue and sentiment of the conversations around your brand, you become a victim to letting misguided (or even uninformed) customers dictate the tone of the conversation, which can prove critically risky for any organization.
- It can create exposure to competitors – This is, of course, a bit of a double-edged sword. One of the greatest assets that social media marketing provides is that it enables you to study your competitor’s strategy. This caveat would seemingly appeal to any business owner. However, the inverse is then true, meaning your competitors also have access to study your business methods through your social media platform. This puts your business at the risk of being outdone if you fail to execute.
- It requires qualified personnel – Social media management isn’t an undertaking that just anyone can engage in and be successful. In fact, it’s typically quite the contrary. In order to focus on core business issues, it’s ideal to employ qualified personnel to manage your accounts and have control of the traffic, content, and brand voice. And yes, that means for optimal results, it’s beneficial to invest both in apparatus and salary in order to produce the most favorable results.
At the end of the day, when deciding whether to use social networks in your brands’ marketing mix, it really comes down to whether it’s right for your business. While there are some tactics that can accelerate your results, there’s no guaranteed ‘quick fix’ that will suddenly produce a spike in sales. But there’s no denying that social media offers enormous potential for relationship building in both the short term and the long term. Best results are typically achieved through a consistent and tactical approach.
Before investing in a social media marketing strategy, strongly consider the effect of the system on your business, and your ability to execute. There’s no question that having a social account to advertise your product is a good idea in the current business landscape. However, if the potential negative impacts outweigh the advantages than maybe it’s best to not expose yourself to that vulnerability. Or at least prepare your organization more thoroughly before diving in. Every organization is different. But the desire to be successful is true for us all. Choose wisely!
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