Social media marketing is one of the most exciting new methods to attract new customers to your brand today. With billions of people regularly accessing social media accounts at least once per month, this type of marketing is almost essential to be doing if you want to stay competitive. There are many positives that can be gained with a new marketing plan, but every good thing comes with certain disadvantages that must also be considered.
If you’re thinking about a new campaign, then here are the pros and cons of social media marketing to consider before finalizing your creatives. Keep in mind that weighing the advantages and risks in this area is an ongoing process, so use these key points to create and then maintain your campaign so that it has the best positive impact possible.
The 10 Pros of Social Media Marketing
1. It’s an easy way to increase brand recognition.
Any positive exposure that you can get for your brand has some level of benefit. What makes social media marketing different from other marketing campaigns is the fact that you can propose numerous value propositions at the same time. You can engage with your targeted demographics on their own terms. You get to establish a specific voice for your brand. You also make your content extremely easy for people to share with each other, making it easier to break into new market.
2. It improves brand loyalty to all of your goods or services.
A brand that engages on multiple social media channels has a better chance to establish brand loyalty even if sales don’t occur. This is because of the unique relationships that brands can develop online. People will follow the brand through social media and make the goods and services become a part of them. A person’s news feed is a reflection of their life, so if a brand is invited to that, your company can be extremely influential. Many customers will even become brand ambassadors who share their experiences with others, which creates new value scenarios to prospects that you may have never been able to reach otherwise.
3. There are more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.
Every post on a social media platform is an opportunity to create a sale. It isn’t just the links or status updates that prospects are monitoring on your brand’s pages or feeds. The responses you give in comments also becomes your official position for others to monitor. Each post, comment, video, and picture also connects previous customers and keeps your brand at the top of their mind because of the positive interactions. If this positivity is encountered every day, then that loyalty just keeps getting reinforced.
4. The potential of a high conversion rate is better than other marketing efforts.
Social media is the ultimate outbound marketing effort. No one likes getting a cold call from a telemarketer or a salesperson at their front door who is striving to get inside to prove the capabilities of a vacuum cleaner. What people don’t mind are outbound efforts that happen on a social media feed. It’s the “social” component that drives this effort. When a brand makes an effort to connect with individual customers, it provides an emotional response. This response creates loyalty and then inspires a sense of guilt if a purchase doesn’t get made because of that loyalty.
5. It’s a chance to prove your niche expertise.
Brand authority is often confused with brand reputation. Although the two things are somewhat linked, they are very different. Brand authority comes through proven expertise. Prospects and customers must feel like a brand has more experience, wisdom, and knowledge about their field of industry than any other competitor in order to have a desire to engage. Social media posts help a brand provide evidence of their niche expertise so that the competition can naturally be shut out of the purchasing process.
6. Social media marketing increases your inbound traffic.
If you don’t have a presence on social media, then your inbound traffic is limited to those relationships you’ve already established. You might get some organic traffic if you rank well in your chosen keywords and phrases. What this marketing campaign does is create a trail of breadcrumbs that every visitor can follow. If you have high quality, valuable content surrounding those breadcrumbs, then you’ve got a better chance to generate more traffic, more leads, and ultimately create more revenues because you’ve got more conversions that you’re handling.
7. It is crazy cheap to implement.
Social media marketing is one of the most affordable campaigns that you can start from scratch right now. In as few as 6 hours per week, a brand can dramatically increase its recognition and improve its reputation. In practical terms, that means your marketing people need to contribute just one hour per day to create the potential for massive growth. You can even start small, develop an audience naturally, and utilize paid advertising on your preferred social media platforms when you’ve got spare cash around so you never go over budget.
8. You get better natural rankings on search engine hits.
Search engines today are focused on value more than anything else. If your content has value and expertise that visitors can immediately use, then your content will rank higher. You can even make mistakes with other SEO practices and have the value of your content override those mistakes. By being active socially and engaging your visitors, search engines register this engagement and assign value to it, which is why content mixed with social media marketing is king of the mountain.
9. Customer service is more responsive, personal, and effective.
If you’ve sat on hold for 30 minutes because you’re waiting to talk to a customer service representative, then there’s a good chance that your somewhat irritated mood has burned into something much more angry. Social media marketing doubles as a customer service outlet and this helps you and your customers respond on your own time without the same emotional engagement. You’re also performing customer service out in public when it is over social media, which means customers with a similar issue can potentially solve their own problem and feel good about the fact that they figured out a solution on their own.
10. You receive instant feedback.
Customer feedback is always essential to the growth of a brand. Without it, there is really no way for the brand to understand what the future needs of its customer base may be. Social media marketing allows customers to provide instant feedback that can be used to develop future innovations from which everyone can profit. It’s easy to overlook constructive criticism online, but brands shouldn’t do this because that criticism could be coming from someone who has that one last concern to be addressed before they become a paying customer.
The 10 Cons of Social Media Marketing
1. Information access becomes easier.
Although information is a good thing to have, it can also be a bad thing in certain circumstances. This is especially true if you have an upset customer with a legitimate gripe against your brand if you made a mistake. It will take dozens of positive encounters with other customers on social media to disrupt the influence of one negative experience. There’s also the chance of inadvertently posting something that your brand wants to keep confidential or possibly offending people without realizing that it has happened.
2. It’s very possible that no one will engage with your brand.
You can’t just jump right in with a social media marketing effort. Starting a page from scratch is easy enough to do, but you need to have an established customer base in order to make that page work for you. It takes time to build any community, so there’s a good chance that you may have zero engagement with your social presence, especially in the first weeks of the campaign.
3. Your social media posts keep getting hijacked by trolls.
Target recently had this happen to them after their announcement of gender-neutral stocking procedures in specific departments. A man posed as a Target customer service representative in the comments section of their posts and hijacked the customer service experience. His trolling went viral and eventually gave the company some positive media exposure, but for those customers who thought the troll was a real representative, brand damage was already done. That can happen to your brand online with any post.
4. Some of your customers will leave when you focus marketing efforts to social media.
A portion of your targeted demographics will not tolerate change of any type. They like how things are right now and don’t want to adapt to different brand styles or messages. It’s just unavoidable. What your brand can do is help these customers plan for the change in advance so they aren’t surprised by your transition to a social media campaign. You won’t be able to please everyone all of the time, but if you don’t address this issue, you could create a negative impact to your brand that is difficult to repair.
5. You can create the possibility of a security breach.
Hackers can take over your social media page and your customer base would never realize it. They can post links that make it seem like you’re proving a value proposition, but what visitors wind up clicking on is a malware installation, a virus, or a fake page that encourages identity theft. This type of brand theft can do a lot of damage before it is ever detected and although many customers are tolerant of this issue, everyone has a limit to their tolerance.
6. The whole organization is rarely involved with a social media strategy.
It is just not feasible for an entire organization to have input on what gets posted onto social media. The organization can have input through training sessions and other advice seminars, but eventually it comes down to what the department and the individual employee feels like is the right thing to say. Once something gets posted onto the internet, it isn’t going to go away, so great care must be taken during the approach stage of a campaign so that everyone has the best chance of being on the same page.
7. Social media marketing isn’t just about marketing.
This is the biggest trap an organization faces. Social media interactions can encourage a number of different conversations that can lead in numerous directions. This means customer service, sales, human resources, and even the executive management of the company can all play a role in developing the reputation of a brand. Far too often the marketing department tries to take on all of these roles without delegation and this winds up sending visitors a confusing message if a different part of the company provides a different answer.
8. It puts a lot of power in the hands of unsupervised individuals.
In many ways, a social media campaign makes individual employees that handle the campaign the face of the company. This means they are creating a brand reputation for the company AND a brand reputation for themselves as a marketing employee. If that individual goes to a different organization, the reputation value that they’ve earned will transfer over to the new brand. This is why having multiple people involved at different stages is so important.
9. The message that is provided may not be localized.
Mass marketing through social media is generally a bad idea. People use social media because it allows them to create specific circles of influence that are similar to their face-to-face relationships. Close family and friends, for example, may have more access to their social media content than casual work acquaintances. If an individual has placed a brand within a specific circle of influence and that isn’t reciprocated by the information the brand posts, then it is possible to lose prospects that could have become customers with a more localized message.
10. It is very easy to inadvertently ignore someone with a legitimate question.
If you have millions of followers on your page, then there’s a good chance that there is an average of 10,000 comments on every post you create on social media. That’s a lot of responses, although many may just be observations or trolls. At this level, you’re looking for the needles in the haystack when there is a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed… and it’s easy to miss those digital needles. Even a small request that goes ignored can become a large negative situation for a brand, so the structure of the marketing effort must also be considered so that this situation is avoided.
The pros and cons of social media marketing show that there must be a balance achieved between these two areas. Not being on social media is not the solution, so it becomes necessary to evaluate all of the pros and cons so that each risk can be evaluated and avoided whenever possible. No gain can be achieved without risk, but too much risk could put you out of business.
It’s all about value. How much value can you offer and then prove to your targeted demographics? That’s what people want to see with your social media marketing campaign. If you can sum that value up in every post, including the responses you leave in the comments section of your preferred platform, then you’ll have the best chance to have a successful social media marketing campaign.