More than half of the world’s population use Social Media. With so many of us on these platforms, it makes sense for businesses to be there promoting their products and services. Users follow brands on their social media profiles to find information on the latest products or services they offer. In fact, over 50% of social browsers use social media to research products.
But is Social Media the right marketing strategy for your business?
Let’s find out by looking at the pros and cons of Social Media Marketing.
Pros of Social Media Marketing
It’s where you will find your customers
It goes without saying that social media is a global phenomenon. 3.5 billion of us actively use it. On average each of us spends 3 hours on social networks every day. No matter what industry you are in, the chances are a lot of your potential customers will be using social media. It doesn’t matter if they are using it to communicate with friends or to look for products. What matters is they are there and you can reach them by being there.
Social Media users also cover a wide range of demographics. Finding your target audience may be the difficult part initially but rest assured there will be people on these platforms looking for your products or services.
Good customer service
Interacting with potential customers is so much easier with social media. In the early days of the web, a visitor would have to go on an organisation’s website and use a form or email address as a way of communication. They would then have to wait hours or even days to get a response. With social media they can get an answer right away. If I am looking for a quick answer from a company, their facebook or twitter page is the first place I look.
As a business owner, if you can provide quick feedback then you are providing excellent customer service. Providing good customer service and building brand loyalty is more than just that though. If you can post relevant instructions, guides or tutorials that will help your customers then they are far more likely to purchase your goods or service. Engaging with customers through social media is all about you giving something to your visitors for free. In return you will earn their trust and turn them into potential loyal customers.
Free to set up
Setting up social media accounts is free. It takes a bit of time to set everything up but with millions of potential customers out there, it is well worth your effort. Normally advertising your brand can be very costly. Social media channels should be seen as opportunities to get your business seen by a global audience for free.
And it’s not just the platforms themselves that are free. The social media community also provides a bucket load of excellent tools to help you succeed. Here are just a few:
- Hootsuite or Buffer to plan and schedule your posts.
- Follwewonk will help you understand your audience better.
- Canva is an amazing tool for creating images for social media profiles and posts.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is also an endless amount of brilliant free advice online. Check out HubSpot’s marketing blog and Gary Vaynerchucks marketing blog. They both offer priceless advice that will keep you ahead of the social media marketing game.
Having your brand on popular social media channels helps grow the brand. In fact if you can’t be found on social media you can be seen as not having a professional brand. Keeping your logo, design and message consistent over a range of different media lets people know that you mean business.
You will also be putting your brand in front of lots of different audiences that you wouldn’t normally. By giving them something free such as industry tips or guides, you are growing your reputation to a large audience. People will become familiar with your brand and pass on the good word to others in your industry via their social media profiles or blogs.
Great content can spread like wildfire on social media. We have all seen interesting, controversial or funny content online that has been shared and viewed by millions of people. If your business can create something that lots of people want to share online then your brand awareness can grow rapidly.
Putting lots of thought and effort into content that you are giving away free might not sound like a great marketing strategy. But if it is highly shareable then the rewards can be staggering.
If something goes wrong that affects your business and this needs to be communicated to your customers as fast as possible, then social media is the way to go. It only takes a few seconds to post and you know your customers will be there. You can of course provide the same information on your website but visitors are more likely to go to your social media profiles for quick updates.
Crisis management is not the only thing that requires fast communication. You might also want to alert your customers to a limited time offer or to make them aware of changed hours of service. Whatever it may be, you can communicate important information to your customers in no time at all.
Increased inbound traffic
You should never bombard your social media followers with links to your website but you certainly should be dropping it now and again. Make it as natural as possible and make sure you are providing something useful when adding links back to your site. It’s all about earning trust and building your reputation as an expert in your field. When you do this you will find that your followers will be more than happy to click through to your content. This can bring a large amount of website traffic.
One good tactic is to use your social media feed to offer intros or teasers that link back to more information on your website. The more engaging content you offer on your social media platforms, the more inbound traffic you will receive.
Social Media is a great place to not only build relationships with customers, but also with similar businesses and people in the same industry as you. Think of it as a worldwide industry network where everyone is looking to help and push each other to improve.
Most of the major social media platforms such as Facebook have specific groups for topics. I can guarantee there will already be lots related to your niche. Ask to join these groups and share your knowledge while picking up some great tips. Be friendly and involve yourself in any conversations that interest you. Building positive relationships can only be good for your business. It helps grow your brand and others will want to share your message.
Learn about your customers
Directly communicating with customers will give you a good idea of where you are going right and what you are doing wrong. These customers won’t mind being honest with you! But it’s much better to know these things so you can adapt and move your business in the right direction.
Each social media platform also has its own reporting tools. You are provided with data on how customers interact with your content. This is a great way to find out what they are really interested in and this will likely be different between each platform. Once you have enough user data you will gain valuable insights into which users react better to your content.
Cons of Social Media Marketing
If you are new to social media then there is a learning curve you will have to navigate and this does take time. Each platform requires different information such as image dimensions and profile details. They all have their own posting rules and regulations to consider before you dive in.
Also keep in mind that each platform has a unique audience. For example Instagram is for people who like stories and beautiful imagery. Twitter followers want quick updates on certain topics. Facebook users are big on socialising. Each platform has its own demographic followers and it takes time before you figure out which is interested in your content the most.
Long term strategy
As you can see from our previous point, social media marketing is not a quick win strategy. You need to plan it properly and see it as a long term gain. You won’t get thousands flocking to your social media profiles instantly. It requires patience. At the start be as helpful as possible and provide people with a solution. Build up your reputation and make friends. Once you are in the groove you will see which platforms work best for your business. Don’t waste your time on the ones that don’t work well.
It’s a good idea to create a social media schedule. A content calendar will help you long term and I would also suggest using social media automation tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer. They allow you to schedule posts over all the major platforms and then provides you with engagement analytics.
You will come across Social media trolls. This is a certainty. People are there to pick up on even the slightest mistake. If your message isn’t sincere and honest or if your product has a fault, people will be ready to pounce by posting negative comments on your feed. Sometimes you will not have done anything wrong at all yet still receive bad feedback.
It’s imperative that you remain professional no matter what is thrown at you. The vast majority of your visitors will be genuine and polite. Be polite to everyone and offer a sincere apology or explanation if necessary. Ignore those who continue to post negative comments. The last thing you want to do is get involved in a heated argument online. This is never going to look good for your business.
Lot’s of platforms
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Snapchat, the list goes on! Trying to convey a consistent message while considering the different audience types over all of these platforms is next to impossible. OK maybe it is possible if you are a global brand but for most of us it would be a case of spreading ourselves thin.
The other problem is that a social media platform can be the best thing since sliced bread one day then forgotten the next when something more exciting comes along. Trying to keep up with this is hard. It takes a lot of experimenting and mistake making to begin with. If you are just starting out with social media marketing, keep an eye on your stats and get a feel for which 2 or 3 platforms work best for you. Focus on these platforms the most. You can still use others but look at automation tools to make it easier.
Lot’s of competition
This one falls into both pros and cons of social media marketing. While a massive worldwide user base is a positive, it also means that you have lots of competition in whatever niche you are in. You will have to find your own unique voice and tackle social media at a different angle if you want to stand out. At the start this can be overwhelming and most people do give when they feel they have too many established rivals.
Remember that even your biggest competitors had to start somewhere. Use them as motivation. Keep an eye on their social media feeds and find out what they are good at and take advantage of what they are not very good at.
Should you be doing Social Media Marketing?
From weighing up these pros and cons of social media marketing, you should now be able to decide if it is worthwhile for your business. The fact that so many businesses, including all the big hitters, are doing some form of marketing through social media, probably tells you that is worthwhile.
For me the real question is which platforms should you be putting most of your effort into. Each of these has its own pros and cons to consider. And finding the answer to this is not always straightforward. Try as many as you can and keep an eye on the statistics. You will know before long where you are proving to be a hit and where you are a bit of a miss. Getting it right across all platforms is very difficult and incredibly time consuming. Narrow it down so you can focus your efforts on what matters.
Once you have a good grasp of which social media platforms suit your business best, it’s time to start planning. Create a schedule and utilise some automation tools. Remember Social Media Marketing is playing the long game. Be patience, consistent with your message and above all be a helpful part of the social media community and you will see your popularity grow. Become an influencer and the social media world is your oyster.