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Top 5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing

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When social media first came into being, no one knew the impact it would create on society. It’s origins date back over 20 years to a site called Six Degrees and in much the same as social media sites today it was a site for users to create a profile and share information.

Fast forward to the early 2000s and Flickr, MySpace and YouTube, among many other similar sites, emerged in 2005 and Facebook and Twitter followed the following year. Suddenly there were millions of users on social media sites, and where the people are, businesses are sure to follow. Using the platforms in much the same way as ordinary users, businesses found a way to advertise their goods and services.

Today there are many more platforms to interact, share content and market your business. Many sites are owned by the same company, e.g. Facebook and Instagram, Google and YouTube, Microsoft and LinkedIn. These sites benefit from sharing content and make it easy for users to switch between the platforms using the same login credentials. Therefore it’s no surprise businesses want to market brands through services offered by networking sites including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn. However, some experts say SMM (social media marketing) is expensive e.g. see Neil Patel’s video on Facebook Ads and returns a low ROI, therefore proceed with caution in much the same way you do with any online marketing strategy.

In this article, we review the known pros and cons of business advertising on social media.

Advantages

The most obvious advantage of paying for business exposure on sites like Facebook is the vast number of users and thus the opportunity to reach huge numbers of eyeballs. Not only is the quantity but also the quality of data made available for marketers. Over the years, technology has advanced data capture and analysis and improved demographics targeting. 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 but also a disadvantage as noted by the negative outcome of Cambridge Analytica. On that note, let’s look at some of the obvious advantages of SMM.

Increased brand awareness

By 2021 Statista predict over 3billion 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 is to have 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 key, 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 normal 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.

Cost effective

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 so getting set up is not a huge investment nor risk. However, you can burn through your marketing budget quickly if you fail to plan and avoid using a marketer well versed in a specific social media platform. They’re not all the same, and just like SEO, marketing takes a lot of know-how and skill. Use an SMM expert to manage your campaign, and it will be more cost-effective than other marketing channels.

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.

Disadvantages

Often it’s easy to roll off the tongue the negatives. With social media, it’s been a steep learning curve for everyone, so, understandably, a lot of negative outcomes have occurred over the years since it’s inception. We named one earlier on, and how customer information is used by businesses and organisations is still a challenge today. 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 recently released the GDPR for the European Union and businesses providing services to EU nations. From a business viewpoint, social media marketing disadvantages include our list below.

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 and have the traffic under control. This implies that you have to invest both in apparatus and salary for a quality outcome.

Slow returns on investments

Social media marketing is a long term investment and one cannot expect returns in an overnight. For companies looking for quick results, implementing traditional methods like word of mouth would be appropriate.

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.

Time consuming

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.

Summary

Before you invest in a social media marketing strategy, do your research and plan to succeed with a campaign that’s right for your business. There’s no denying SMM is one strategy among many online marketing initiatives that are popular. However, it’s not a ‘one size fits all’. Therefore it’s easy to get it wrong and end up worse off with little new business to show for your investment in social media as a marketing channel so initially proceed with caution and when you know how you can increase sales from it keep going with confidence.

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