Social media started in 1997 with a site called Six Degrees.
Fast forward to the early 2000s and famous sites including Flickr, MySpace and YouTube emerged in 2005 with Facebook, and Twitter the following year, there are now hundreds of millions of users on social media sites. Where the people are, businesses are sure to follow. Using the platforms in much the same way as ordinary users, companies found a way to advertise their goods and services.
Fast forward to now, and there are many more social networking platforms, many are favoured by specific demographics. For example, 90% of users of Snapchat are aged 18 – 24, and two-thirds are female.
Plus mergers and acquisitions of social media sites make it even easier to share content across platforms and use the same login credentials, for example, Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Alphabet owns Google and YouTube. There are more positives for your business from sharing content and switch between the platforms using the same login credentials.
Businesses want to market their goods and services on sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn to reach their intended audience, however, is SMM too expensive?
Some experts say SMM (social media marketing) doesn’t deliver value for money e.g. see Neil Patel’s video on Facebook Ads. There are so many digital marketing strategies, including email marketing that are easier to do and cheaper too but for how long?
Newer technologies including artifical intelligence, machine learning and other 4th and 5th industrial revolution software improving ROI for marketers including using social media for business.
Therefore in this article, we disclose our pros and cons for businesses advertising on social media, i.e. social media marketing (SMM).
The most obvious advantage for businesses using Facebook to promote their brand is the large userbase. There are 2.7 billion monthly users according to Statista. You’d think it would be impossible to target your advert at your intended audience, but improvements in tech have been put to good use for advertisers.
Customer Data Analysis
Sites like Facebook have third party providers specialising in software and services for data segmentation and businesses using the data get the reward with their SMM adverts been seen by their intended customers. This is an advantage for advertisers but for users it’s been a disadvantage as noted by the negative outcome of Cambridge Analytica use of Facebook user data in the US 2016 election.
Increased brand awareness
By 2021 Statista predict over 3 billion people will be using social media in one form or another. Therefore given that almost every person owns a smartphone, desktop or a laptop, and they spend a lot of time on social media sites, doing any sort of SMM if implemented correctly should at worst increase brand recognition for your business.
The key to being successful with social media marketing is executing a well-thought-out plan. Organic sharing of boosted posts, for example, can improve exposure, and this can begin within the business with employees. Their Instagram, Twitter etc. followers and friends liking and sharing your posts and page.
Generating engagement is vital, and it’s in the true nature of social networking so when people interact with your product posts greater awareness among other users occurs, and from here referrals and enquiries increase and then actual sales.
Better customer satisfaction
By and large, most humans seek to attract attention and acknowledgement, and the networking sites encourage it. It’s standard practice to take selfies, and that includes sharing images and videos of using products etc.
Followers will like, comment and share these posts and before long prospective customers will ask questions relating to your products and services, and they expect a quick reply. It’s this immediacy of contact that improves customer satisfaction. Therefore when you’re attentive, and you respond directly within your page to queries, your page attracts more views from your followers and your customers’ networks.
The perception is your business genuinely cares and provides excellent service, and this is an advantage for SMM, i.e. the immediacy of contact with prospective customers.
Social media marketing can be cost-effective when you know how to do it well. The initial creating of a new profile and signing in is free for almost every social media platform so getting set up is not a huge investment nor risk. However, you can burn through your marketing budget quickly by attempting to do it yourself without support from an SMM expert.
Don’t do it yourself. Choose a marketing professional or agency with a history of proven SMM success. For example, ask to see the agency’s case studies on Facebook ads for business. Ask for assistance on an SMM strategy and the budget. Do it right the first time, this is the most cost-effective approach for your business.
Increased inbound traffic
Online marketing should increase inbound traffic to your website. With SMM, when the campaign is expertly crafted with a one-click action from the channel to your website and ideally the product page, visitors will come and stay on your site if they like what they see and read. Therefore make sure your advert has a call to action and on the landing page avoid populating it with ‘noise,’ i.e. pop up banners and unintuitive features.
Provide value with high-value content on all pages and particularly on your product pages. Hence, the increase in traffic to your site from social media channels not only likes what they see but also converts into a sale or at minimum signs up for your newsletter.
Gain market insight
For any business to succeed, it must know its customers really well. What are their needs, opinions and interests? This is called personalised data and we wrote a new article on how to acquire more insight into customer expectations and desires from current digital marketing initiatives.
With the high engagement among users on social media, the platforms provide a vehicle for businesses to gain market insight to improve their offerings and service.
Social media has been around nearly a couple of decades, so we’re more comfortable with it now, and we trust it more too. However, it’s not always been this way. Take Facebook, for example, using it was a steep learning curve, and there were too many software updates which altered displays and usability. Then the default user privacy setting set to ‘public’ which after user backlash still took Facebook five years to change to visible to friends.
Probably the biggest Facebook fail was the Cambridge Analytica debacle, and user’s trust in Facebook reached an all-time low. Privacy is important, and all sites must have privacy statements on how they manage customer data capture and what they do with it. For example, Europe has the GDPR for the European Union and businesses providing services to EU nations. However, for business using SMM, the negatives include cost, slow returns, complexity, and competitors.
Exposure to competitors
Social media marketing enables you to study your competitors’ strategy. However, they can still study your business methods through your social media platform. This puts your business at the risk of being outdone.
Needs qualified personnel
To focus on core business issues, you will have to employ qualified personnel to manage your account. For example, to get the most from a WhatsApp Business multiple users account starting with using the platform’s API for business. Attempting to do this yourself end up costing you more than investing the skills of a social media developer or marketer.
Slow returns on investments
Social media marketing is a long term investment i.e. plan to run campaigns continuously.
Tarnish brand name
If a piece of negative information finds its way onto a social media platform, the public will have the chance to express their dissatisfaction. This will tarnish your product name and deter potential customers from establishing relationships and doing business with the brand.
People may deliberately ignore your page because they may be interested in other sites. To get them to appreciate and share your posts may take time. For this reason, resources in terms of money and time must be allocated to ensure frequent publishing of aesthetic posts.
Before you invest in a social media marketing strategy, engage an SMM agency to help you research and plan a workable approach to achieve your marketing and sales goals.
SMM is not a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. Therefore it’s easy to get it wrong and end up worse off with little new business to show for your investment. Therefore don’ be shy in engaging the experts to cut through the ‘noise’ to deliver a high rate of conversion and ROI for your business.