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Social media is ubiquitous these days, continuing to evolve as a viable marketing channel for businesses of any size-startup to enterprise. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms have made it possible to connect with your customers on a seemingly one-on-one basis. Before you hinge the success of your business on social media, however, be sure to consider the following social media marketing pros and cons.
Below, we dissect each of these pros and cons to help you better leverage your time and make intelligent, ROI-driven decisionsabout social media marketing for your business.
No matter how successful your company has been, there's no excuse not to be engaging in social media marketing. Consider the following social media marketing pros.
Traditional marketing is based on brand-to-audience engagement, but social media thrives on shares. You never know who will share your Facebook page, direct a friend to your blog, or tag your company on Instagram. When it comes to social media, your potential for reeling in new leads is enormous; and your ability to grow your brand practically unlimited.
As reported by The Drum, in 2015 Facebook influenced 52 percent of online and offline purchases-up from 36 percent in 2014.
Not only can you use social media to build your brand, you can use it to demonstrate your personality, interact with customers, and show them that you care; which, in turn, fosters long-term loyalty. Social media marketing helps boost your reputation and build relationships with your customers.
Social media encourages open communication through public comments. Take that feedback and improve your products and services, provide an enhanced customer experience, and find opportunities to leverage that direct pipeline to your customers into a long-term customer sustainability program.
Social Media Today reports that:
The information you learn is not just valuable for social media marketing; it can also be used to increase the efficacy of your other marketing campaigns, such as direct-mail postcard marketing.
If you have the time to do it (more on that below), social media marketing can be free. Moreover, paid social media marketing is incredibly affordable, even for small budget startups and home-based entrepreneurs.
For all the benefits of social media marketing, there are some potential cons you must consider before diving in.
Content must be created, edited, approved, and published. Comments must be responded to and pages must be maintained. You can alleviate these demands by outsourcing or hiring a social media manger, of course; but if you want to do it yourself you'll need to be able to invest plenty of time into growing your social presence.
Social media marketing places high demands on your talent. It can be difficult to constantly come up with innovative exciting content that interests a variety of readers and, without relevance, your efforts will be wasted.
As Social Media Today reports, most marketers spend between one and ten hours on social media marketing weekly.
Unlike other marketing channels, you have little control over how your brand is conveyed on social media. Sure, you control the content you create; but you don't control comments and anything you publish is up for grabs. Others can easily criticize you. Public backlash is the last thing you want your social media marketing to spawn, and without the ability to control comments, reviews, or even what your own team is publishing you can open yourself up for potential negatives.
Moreover, you need to be ready to respond to comments, messages, and reviews in real-time. In fact, online customers expect a response in five minutes or less. If you do not provide a positive customer service experience, your recommendation rate drops from 71 percent to 19 percent.
Sure, you can leverage social media marketing to influence immediate sales; however, the most effective use of social media marketing is to foster brand relationships that lead to long-term customer loyalty and sales over time. That means your ROI can be delayed (of course, you might also hit a home run with a viral post).
There are two types of ROI when it comes to social media: financial, which is your ROI in terms of profit for a given campaign; and social, which your ROI in terms of shares, followers, and likes-the level of engagement you receive that enhances brand, product, and service promotion as well as your online reputation.
Social media marketing can work to build relationships and brand loyalty, but it takes time and dedication. Social media marketing efforts are not likely to earn immense popularity overnight, so you must be willing to be in it for the long haul if you decide to launch a social media marketing campaign.
Notice the enormous difference in social media marketing response to brand awareness initiatives versus direct sales.
There's no doubt online marketing is important, but it lacks the tangible qualities that make print marketing so successful in the digital age. Consider these stats:
As Shauna Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wine Company puts it: "Print marketing is tangible. It's something that's really nice to touch and see and feel... Everyone can go on the internet and say, oh I like this. And then 15 minutes later, you can't even remember what it was that you were talking about or which you liked. But something that you take with you - again, something tangible. You take this out of your purse, I remember I had this. That's right. Put it on the refrigerator. It's a nice reminder".
It's the reason business cards remain one of the most popular marketing tools today, and the reason why refrigerator magnetsare the perfect in-home "share." You simply can't get those tangible qualities out of social media marketing.
Despite having the ability to post for free and relatively low-cost ad rates, social media marketing can get expensive for small businesses. If you do it yourself, you'll need to invest a lot of time-and time is money.
Otherwise, you'll need to pay someone to manage your social media marketing for you; and your ultimate costs depend on the skill level of your hire (and whether they're a freelancer, agency, or in-house employee), how much time they'll devote to your campaigns, and how many social media marketing platforms you market on.
You could hire a freelancer to add a couple of posts per week for less than $100; however, you won't get the monitoring, audience interaction, and dedicated service a well-rounded social presence requires. On the other hand, a full-time social media director can cost nearly $100,000 per year. You need the right balance to maximize ROI at the investment level you're comfortable with.
As you can see, social media marketing can bring many benefits and increased profits to any company with an online presence, but it comes with caveats. If you're considering launching a social media marketing campaign, make sure you understand all the pros and cons and have a robust plan in place. With proper planning, you'll increase your chances for social media success, broaden your company's horizons and be ready to quickly address any unfortunate eventualities.