The digital sphere has seen a huge burst in marketing trends just in the last decade. Countless trends have replaced each other, whether for the better or worse. Only a few years ago, businesses could more or less rely only on their website in the online jungle to close sales, generate leads, boost conversions, and to build their brand online. However, nowadays, there’s an entire digital ecosystem business owners need to take care of in order to maximize all the advantages the internet has to offer.
One of the “tools” businesses have increasingly taken advantage of throughout the years are social platforms, i.e. social media. Since their initial conception, social media platforms have gone through significant changes, catering to the shifts in the digital landscape and catering to the ever-growing marketing needs of companies. As such, the family and friend-oriented web applications have transformed into platforms where, apart from relatives and friends, there’s an abundance of brands, services, products, and different content users can follow and engage with. Now, with over 3.5 billion active users, brands have a huge audience to market to, and it’s only a matter of time until some of these users become customers.
However, before jumping on the bandwagon, and creating a business page on Facebook, entrepreneurs need to learn and understand the dynamic nature of social media and the marketing approaches it demands. Just like with most things in life, there are two sides to everything, and social media is no exception under that rule.
Before we start, it’s essential to mention that if social media marketing is done correctly, it can be a highly efficient way to boost online presence, drive more traffic and sales, i.e. to help you boost your profit. There are brands out there that mainly owe their entire success to social media, but there are also companies who have seen their downfall thanks to these platforms. That’s why we are going to examine the pros and cons of social media so you can make a more educated decision whether to use them or not.
The pros of social media marketing
Most marketers and entrepreneurs will argue that nowadays, social media is an essential tool for every business that wants to take themselves seriously in the digital realm. They have a point. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have become important players of digital marketing and here are a few pointers why.
In comparison with other online and offline marketing tactics, social media is still amongst the cheapest ways to reach out to your audience and this is the first thing that makes it incredibly appealing for most businesses. You can create an account on these platforms for free and the interaction tools are also free of charge to use.
Even though most features are free on these websites, you will still have to invest in them to maximize your gains. Creating your genuine content, visual identity, maintenance, management, ad campaigns can add up and cost you several thousand dollars a month.
This all may sound a bit discouraging but it’s still more cost-effective than most other marketing tactics out there.
Great for brand development
With millions of daily users, social media is an ideal surface for businesses to strengthen their online presence and to showcase their brand to a wide audience. By being present on social media, your brand and products are always visible to your potential prospects and regular customers meaning it will be easier for them to form a trusting bond with your company.
On the other hand, it’s a great platform to nurture the relationship between your company and returning customers, so eventually, they can become your brand ambassadors and promoters. With the right strategy, social media can help you with this. With a great social strategy, brands can tell their story on social media, “humanize” the company and its products and in return, create a deeper bond with the customers.
Great way to constantly add value
Social media gives businesses quick and easy ways to keep their audiences constantly engaged. Great social posts, stunning visuals, social media-only specials, and contests can all help brands to deepen the bond between them and their customers.
From content to ad campaigns, it’s easy to continuously add value to customers effectively.
Reach a huge audience
Social media is a great tool if you’re looking to gain traction in your respective industry. One main advantage of social media marketing over traditional channels like TV or newspaper advertising is that you can reach a global audience without any hassle.
Social media is a huge open marketplace and if you wish to market on these channels you are reaching out to a huge audience filled with both of your existing and potential customers.
On the other hand, social media gives you an easier way to go international. The worldwide reach of these platforms enables businesses to effortlessly generate new leads from all around the world. This is an advantage that’s hard to beat.
Lastly, you don’t have to deal with demographic restrictions on these platforms. This means that there’s a huge market at your fingertips for every age group you wish to target with your ads.
Insights and trends
Another great advantage of using social media platforms is the fact that you can gain valuable insight into what your customers need. You can learn about their consumer habits, problems, likes, preferences, dislikes. This info can be crucial for your campaigns and for your business in general. You can leverage the info to keep your brand relevant in the digital sphere and to gain a competitive edge within your industry.
Also, being present on social media can help you gain insight into what your competition is doing. By tracking their activity, you can see what tactics they are deploying and what brings them the best results. You can use those same strategies to remain relevant, only make sure that you’re not bluntly copying your competitors. Stay unique.
Embrace the social ecosystem itself
Social media is a digital world in itself with its own set of rules and trends. However, social media marketing blends in with your overall digital marketing strategies perfectly. That being said, you can create a plan that can not only enhance your social marketing efforts but the success of your overall digital marketing strategy.
For example, deploying marketing automation like chatbots can help you drive more traffic to targeted areas, not to mention, can help you build better trust on the social platform itself.
The cons of social media marketing
Above, we’ve talked about the advantages of social media. Now, we’re going to talk a little more about the possible disadvantages that can potentially hinder your online progress.
It takes time
While social media is a great way to promote your business, you have to be dedicated if you want to see results. It’s a time-consuming process and it takes constant work if you want to see results.
For starters, growing your brand on these channels takes time. Long gone are the glory days of Facebook and Instagram, when people would like your page or follow you without any second thought. It’s much harder to build a huge following today than it was only 5 years ago, and if you want to build a strong and relevant brand, you need to be patient and follow through.
Also, the amount of work you have to put in could also be huge. Creating content, preparing the posts, and scheduling them can take up hours of your day. On the other hand, you have to do social media marketing the right way to get results. This means, you can work on your social media efforts 6 hours a day, but still don’t see the results if you’re doing things the wrong way.
It takes consistency
Not only is marketing on social networks time-consuming, but doing it right also requires you to be consistent. Creating a regular posting schedule and a habit for preparing content is crucial for your success since your customers want to hear from you constantly.
Consistency isn’t only a quantity, but also a quality question. In order to keep your efforts on the right track, you should always aim to provide quality content. Great visuals, good video materials, informational copy, and so on. This can be demanding and if you’re doing it alone, you can end up eating up your time.
It takes experience
Social media marketing has become really complex and to run your social campaigns successfully, you need to be familiar with the “trade”. Ad campaigns require you to know how to set them up and run them properly if you want to see results. You also need to know how to engage with your audience the right way, not to mention, you’ll always need to keep tabs on the latest social trends and shifts to stay relevant.
It’s not an easy job, especially if you are running your business at the same time. Fortunately, you can always hire social media specialists to take care of your online presence. These people have the experience to ensure you get what you pay for, they will be consistent and will invest the necessary time into your marketing efforts.
It can literally make or break your business
You’ve probably heard of brands that become popular because of a great social strategy, a viral video, or unique ideas that become social media marketing standards. While these success stories exist, there are also a few brand disasters out there.
When creating your content, you need to be careful and should stray away from hot and sensitive topics. Those should be reserved for your personal accounts, but those can also stir up some unwanted attention that can translate into a brand-fiasco.
Also, make sure that your content is double-checked, so you can avoid unnecessary mistakes and “bloopers”. While going viral can be a great way to promote your business, you don’t want to be remembered only by a silly mistake.
Lastly, you should be aware of fake accounts when it comes to reputation management. While it’s not common, your competition can ruin your online rep with fake accounts, negative reviews, and hateful comments. Always keep an eye out and flag/report suspicious accounts. It’s also easy to lose control over the way people see your brand. With a worldwide reach, malicious users can use every piece of content you post for criticism and hurtful commenting. And there’s no way around it: social media is a free-to-access medium for these people who go around and bash your brand. On the flip-side, if you stay alert, you can easily block these people, moderate their comments and report them to the platform.
Costs can add up, ROI can be hard to measure
While we’ve listed cost-efficiency as one of the benefits, you should know that this is a two-blade sword. It’s true that it’s much cheaper in comparison to other traditional marketing methods, to maximize your social results you need to invest in paid ads on these platforms, which can get tricky and overwhelming. Especially if you’re running a huge campaign with no experience on a tight budget.
Plus, creating quality content for these platforms can also leave you paying a significant amount of money. Professional photoshoot sessions, video production, special effects, and such can all come into play if you are serious about running an impeccable social media marketing strategy. With all these things on the table, costs can creep up leaving you asking: “When did I spend that much?”.
Another problematic feature might be the difficulty of defining ROI (return of investment) from your social media marketing efforts. There are stats out there that suggests that around 89 percent of digital marketers have a hard time pinpointing their exact ROI from their marketing on social networks. That being said, 37 percent have a handle on giving a better picture of estimated ROI, 35 percent say they’re not sure the way they measure is correct, and 28 percent do not know how to measure returns at all.
On the other hand, as we’ve already mentioned – this is a time-consuming process, meaning that months, or sometimes even years pass before social media marketing really starts to kick off and drive real figures.
The bottom line
From a marketing perspective, social media is hard to beat. A cost-effective way to reach a global audience, giving you further tools and strategies to market your goods. It’s also a great way to gain insight into what’s happening on the market, it’s awesome for always being up-to-date with trends and it helps brands in staying competitive.
However, on a more negative note, marketing on these social network platforms can be rough, especially if people desperately start bashing your brand. Not to mention, in order to make progress in social marketing, you have to be patient, consistent, and experienced. Even if it’s cost-effective, chances are, you’ll end up investing more than you’d initially thought, and sometimes, you’ll have a hard time tracking your returns.
Fortunately, the positives outweigh the negatives since most of the disadvantages listed here are things you can eliminate by keeping an eye on your social presence and by learning the trade of social media marketing. On the other hand, you can always hire an agency or a social media specialist who will take care of your brand for you.
Lastly, if you see yourself as a serious brand, you pretty much have to be present at least on one social network. Why? Simple – consumers expect brands to have social media business pages. According to recent statistics, nearly 63 percent of users think that way, while a whopping 90 percent of users actively communicate with brands on different social platforms, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.
Such stats should be respected, meaning that it’s crucial for your brand to up your game and take your social media marketing processes to a level that aids in your overall success. With a little patience and dedication, social media can become a marketing powerhouse.