The Pros and Cons of Using Social Media in Your Business
According to LinkedIn, an estimated 94 percent of small to medium-sized businesses use some form of social media to help increase brand exposure and stimulate sales. While social media marketing is clearly an important strategy for a great many businesses, it may not be the best fit for every business.
Is Social Media Right for My Business?
The short answer is probably yes. If your business has any kind of an online presence such as a website, you could probably benefit from adding social media to your marketing mix as long as you understand a few key concepts of social media.
- Social media is neither a quick fix nor a set-it-and-forget-it answer to your marketing problems. It requires a certain amount of patience, and ongoing account monitoring and updating to give your social momentum time to build and grow.
- Social media is not entirely free. Either you or a trusted employee will have to monitor and update your company’s social accounts on a regular basis – and as we all know, time is money. Depending on your situation, you may need to hire a qualified outsourcer to handle these chores for you.
Social Media: The Pros
1. Social media is where your customers are – People of all ages and demographic groups are spending more and more time with social media. An estimated 72 percent of all adult Internet users are active on at least one social network. Don’t dismiss Facebook as something “for the kids.” Its fastest growing demographic segment is the 55 and older group.
2. Social media is extremely affordable – Most of the social media networks are free to join, and social management and publishing software is available for about $10 per month. If you create your own content, the only cost is your time. If you lack the time or ability to create your own content, you can always bring in an outsourced content creator for a reasonable fee.
3. Social media helps build brand loyalty – The personal nature of social media allows you to cultivate relationships and build a community around your brand – which leads to increased brand awareness and loyalty, and ultimately more sales. What’s more, studies conducted by Forrester Research show that 70 percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends or family members compared to a mere 10 percent who trust traditional forms of advertising.
4. Social media provides valuable consumer research about your company and products – A study commissioned by the Altimeter Group found that 84 percent of businesses reported that their use of social media brought greater customer insights. By “chatting” with prospects and customers, you can learn about the types of questions and concerns that consumers have that could be addressed by your products, what they like and don’t like, and most important – what they really think about your brand.
5. Social media helps boost website traffic – While social signals don’t directly influence your search engine rankings, social media can help drive more referral traffic to your site. And when your social content gets shared, you may pick up inbound links – which will help boost your search rankings.
Social Media: The Cons
1. Social media might encourage negative comments – Providing a forum for possible negative comments about your brand may seem self-defeating, but it serves a valuable purpose in allowing people a place to vent. If people are going to criticize your company anyway, why not have them do it where you have a degree of control and flexibility in responding to and correcting the situation?
2. Social media marketing is time consuming – Besides creating fresh and relevant content on a regular basis, you’ll need to devote time to monitoring comments and responding in a timely manner. Before jumping into social media, make sure that you’re prepared to make the necessary time commitment, or have the staff or qualified outsourcers to help you.