Most entrepreneurs and marketers have found social media marketing to be an effective solution for promoting their products or services. Some have driven visitors to their eCommerce site through Instagram Stories, a series of multimedia content that vanishes within 24 hours, or boosted sales of a new product through promotional YouTube content. Others have hopped on hashtag trends on Twitter.
In 2020 alone, more than half of the world (3.96 billion) was on some form of social media. Industry experts believe that number will continue to rise because social platforms have not captured all 4.57 billion internet users (Smart Insights, 2020). With so many users yet to join social media, it is entirely possible that the popularity of any one social media platform for marketing has not even peaked yet. Evidently, there’s still much more to be gained by those who add social media to their marketing mix in 2021.
Since social networks have expanded from simply connecting people to bringing businesses closer to consumers, all social media channels have experienced a large increase in usage. Brands continue to benefit from the advantages of social media marketing, which will continue to grow as the platforms evolve and technology develops. For instance, Instagram’s move in November 2020 to make captions searchable without the need for hashtags allows for less clunky messaging, and Facebook has introduced Shops to enable small businesses to sell directly to their audience on the platform.
Leverage the pros of social media as you prepare your marketing strategy for 2021. But don’t forget to consider the cons of social media, like trolls and reputation issues, to develop a balanced and realistic game plan.
In this blog post, we delve into the advantages and disadvantages of social media to give you a clearer picture of what to anticipate. Learn more about:
• What is social media marketing?
• The top three benefits of social media marketing
• More pros of social media marketing
• The cons of social media marketing
• Putting your social media marketing plan to work
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Skip this part if you’re pretty familiar with the concept – or take a refresher and read through. If you only have a vague idea of what constitutes this online marketing channel, here’s a quick definition.
So, what is social media marketing? Also known as SMM, it is the process of crafting content for social networking platforms to achieve your business and marketing objectives. You use the content to raise brand awareness, engage your audience or generate conversion such as driving traffic to your site or compelling followers to contact you.
Depending on your short-term or long-term needs, you can create either a single or a unified social media marketing strategy. You might focus your efforts on a single platform or market on multiple ones – but be aware that doing the latter requires more resources because each social networking app has its standard content and messaging format. This approach, however, also has the potential to make a bigger impact.
The Top Three Benefits of Social Media Marketing
If you have to choose among the major pros of social media marketing to direct your strategy, let it be any three of the following:
1. Social Media Outreach is an Economical Choice
As the COVID-19 crisis bleeds into the new year, it’s crucial to keep your business alive by reaching out to your target market without breaking the bank.
This makes social media a good place to start. A Forbes Communication Council post said that, amid the pandemic, “it is cheaper for businesses to build their brand and engage with their customers through social media.” Setting up a business account on a social app is free, as is posting content on your business page. Some basic features like messaging and analytics are also free.
Of course, you have to start paying if you want to use the advertising and targeting features. But spending on ads can easily be aligned with your budget. For what it’s worth, hiring a social media management team can help you run an effective ad campaign, which in turn can pay for itself.
2. Raising Brand Awareness Can be Streamlined
Tap into the broad user base of social platforms to gain exposure for your brand. You can enhance your likelihood of being recognized by more users when you put up a page or profile on each of your chosen channels. Work on increasing your followers, sharing content consistently and interacting with your community to familiarize people with your presence.
But achieving visibility also depends on the viability of the social media apps. Take a look at the traditional ones, which have been here since the early 2000s and have not shown any signs of slowing down during the pandemic. To give you an idea of how large their scope is, here are their growth numbers as of October 2020:
Monthly Active Users, as per Statista.com:
• Facebook – 2.7 billion
• YouTube – 2 billion
• Instagram – 1.16 billion
• Twitter – 353 million
More recent types of social media with remarkable user surge:
• TikTok – 689 million
• Snapchat – 433 million
3. Customers Can Connect With You Directly
One of the advantages of social media is making interactions seamless and convenient. Through post or comment tagging and messaging features, you can reach out to another person or an organization in seconds.
These elements can also be turned into social media marketing tools, so you can easily cater to the needs of your customers. Likewise, you can ask them about what they want, announce promotions and sales and educate them about your products or services.
Online users aged 16-64 find new brands or products through social ads, use social networks to research new brands or products and rely on social proof (such as likes and positive comments) to influence their purchase decisions. (GlobalWebIndex, 2020)
More Pros of Social Media Marketing
Studying the pros and cons of social media marketing allows you to craft a strategy that fits the reality of using social media apps for business. Here are some more positive aspects to focus on when developing your social media marketing plan:
Social Apps Have Precise Targeting and Positioning
One of the most talked-about advantages of social media involves reaching out to the right audience. Data-driven research determines where your target market hangs out and points you to platforms that matter to your business objectives.
You can perform data mining or hire a data-driven social media marketing agency to nail the following information, which should direct your strategy:
• Demographics – Based on traditional factors like age, gender and location and hyper-specific ones like education, employment and income.
• Psychographics – These are less tangible consumer characteristics like personality, values, lifestyle, activities and interests.
• Geographics – This is one of the pros of social media marketing that often gets less attention than it deserves. Geographics is a segmentation technique that allows you to target a market segment based on location. For instance, a multinational clothing company would want to promote its winter wardrobe collection to people in colder regions that experience a full winter season.
• Behavioral – This data refers to browsing behavior and purchasing history, among others.
The above are examples of real data that can help you craft a buyer persona, which is the representation of the ideal customers you want to reach. Before you start brainstorming personas, one more thing to note is to ensure you’re extracting or sourcing your data with data owner consent. You have to check which social media apps are transparent to users about the data they’re collecting and sharing with third parties and are observing data privacy and protection practices. If you’re planning to hire help, look for social media marketing companies who are willing to explain to and discuss this topic with you further.
Launching a Sustainable Presence Got Better
When you read about social media marketing services, these include organic posting. Posting organically means you are using the unpaid features of social platforms. An example would be creating a Facebook page and sharing website links, product photos and company videos on that space. These activities are free of charge, so you can do them regularly.
Without the burden of spending, you have the freedom to post as much as you want. Of course, social media marketing companies worth their salt would advise you to implement strategic posting for your efforts to become effective and sustainable. Be smart in leveraging the space.
Paid Social Lets You Achieve Quick Results
Social media advertising is one of the exciting benefits of social media marketing. Because it can garner more eyeballs on your brand page in a short period of time, paid ads give a quick boost to your social presence. Whether you are working with a social media marketing company or have a dedicated in-house team, you can integrate paid social into your strategy for the following purposes:
• Telling a story about your brand, product or service
• Launching a new product or service
• Acquiring new customers
• Using data to predict response rates
Your social media ads appear on news feeds, messaging apps and even the search engine results pages (SERPs). Social giant Facebook also offers remarketing, which positions your ad in front of a prospect while they’re browsing partner sites. For example, if a user found your item on Facebook and then left to check out different sites, they may see an ad about that item on those sites.
Send Followers to Your Site With Ease
In the early aughts, social accounts served as channels for promoting website content. That remains to be the case even as strategies have become more sophisticated and the types of social media have diversified. Brands still use social media to drive traffic to their site, where high-intent leads can learn more about the company and its offerings, find answers to their problems through the blog and purchase the products or services they need.
Here are four tips you can follow to maximize one of the most profitable pros of social media marketing:
1. Optimize your profile across platforms, which includes adding your website URL in the bio.
2. Post regularly to build brand awareness and post when most of your audience is online.
3. Craft visual content to grab attention and boost information retention. Here’s a trick from John Medina of Brain Rules: “We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.”
4. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and chats. This should help them associate great customer service with your brand, leading them to visit your site out of curiosity or when they’re ready to buy.
You Learn More About Your Audience
The longer you practice social media marketing, the better you understand your audience, industry and even your brand. Social network data can provide you with additional insight into how your marketing and business are doing. With the help of this information gleaned from social media, some companies are able to see what’s working and not working and refine their strategies accordingly.
Take note of the following metrics to include in your social media marketing strategy:
• Awareness: Post impressions, post reach, potential reach and Social Share of Voice (SSoV)
• Engagement: Individual engagement metrics (likes, comments and shares), average engagement rate and virality rate
• Conversion: Conversion rate, click-through rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC)
• Customer Support: Customer reviews/testimonials, Customer Satisfaction Score (CSat Score) and Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Tracking data on different platforms allows you to fine-tune your individual and cross-channel campaigns. Some platforms let you perform A/B testing, such as Facebook, to determine the most effective elements of your ads. In turn, these advantages of social media tracking help you maximize your return on investment (ROI).
The Cons of Social Media Marketing
An awareness of the pros and cons of social media marketing gives you a balanced view of this booming digital marketing channel. It also steers you clear of wasting your time and money on subpar services.
Social media marketing companies that avoid discussing the advantages and disadvantages of social media may only be after the profit. If you’re planning to enlist an external team, you can separate the wheat from the chaff by asking them about the pros and cons of social media. Here’s a reference list for the cons:
Social Media Creation Is a Resource-Heavy Task
While organic social media marketing services are free, keep in mind that creating content may take time, effort and money to produce depending on the types of social media you’re on. Say you’re planning to use TikTok – you’ll have to produce clips regularly, which may test your resourcefulness and creativity.
If you have zero knowledge about how social media works, you may hit a steep learning curve. And if you or an employee devote a big chunk of the day to learning about the ins and outs, the opportunity cost right could lead to a mediocre return.
Suggested Solution: Hire someone who can hit the ground running to save resources or partner with a trusted social media marketing company to reduce long-term costs. Either way, you should get a lot of value from your chosen route because it streamlines the process for your business.
You Leave Yourself Vulnerable to Negative Reviews
Remember what we said about social media users who rely on social proof to make decisions about brands, products and services. What if the signal pertains to something negative, such as a bad review or an angry post reaction? Unfortunately, this is part and parcel of leveraging the channel. You are not exempted from experiencing both the pros and cons of social media marketing.
If you receive a negative review, treat it as an opportunity to communicate with the dissatisfied customer. Respond with an apology if you’re at fault and even ask for suggestions on how you can improve. And if you choose to respond, do it quickly to improve your chances of retaining customers or winning them back. Users who see your proactive response may also be intrigued and check you out.
Suggested Solution: Provide customer support by responding to negative feedback on social media and other channels right away. Alternatively, search for a social media marketing company that handles reputation management and let it conduct an audit, fix the issues and get you back on track.
You Have To Deal With Trolls at Some Point
Is social media a good place or a bad place? The presence of trolls seems to suggest it’s the latter. Internet trolling is said to have originated in the 1990s. But our concern is its current form: users posting off-topic, inflammatory and sometimes harassing comments online.
If your brand on social media – which 83 percent of businesses in America are – be prepared to encounter trolls at some point. Some trolls have anonymous identities, which allow them to target people or organizations without fear of consequences. Of course, trolling isn’t always quite so serious. It can also bring harmless fun, such as the tweet that told Wendy’s “I’m getting a McDonald’s today.” Wendy’s replied with its own brand of Twitter roasts.
Suggested Solution: Take advantage of social media marketing tools, such as comment moderation tools for Facebook and YouTube. Report trolls on Twitter or take a page out of Wendy’s book on how to deal with trolls using humor.
Results Take Time to Manifest
Getting consistent results may not happen during your first week of posting content. Building momentum does not happen to brands overnight, unless you have a trick up your sleeve that lets you churn out one viral post after another. This can be a challenge for anyone starting out, especially if you have a lean team and everyone’s already preoccupied.
Suggested Solution: Don’t be afraid to consider using a social media marketing agency or social media marketing services. Do your research before you commit, so you can be sure about the results.
Putting Your Social Media Marketing Plan to Work
Pandemic or no pandemic, social media marketing has become a valuable marketing channel for various businesses. Your potential customers are already on these platforms every day. It’s also cost-effective, diverse and entertaining. These opportunities make this option viable and accessible to any enterprise, regardless of niche or industry.
To help cement the idea, we discussed in this article the advantages and disadvantages of social media companies should be aware of. We included social media marketing tools and tips, trends and tactics to equip you for the coming year.
With COVID-19 recovery plans still underway, most brands will benefit from focusing on marketing through social platforms, just like Prestige ER, a standalone emergency room in San Antonio, Texas. With an adjusted advertising budget, Thrive assisted in bolstering their site traffic and brand awareness. Our experts rolled out an engagement campaign that accommodated the news, including COVID-19 posts that educated the public about the virus and our client’s role in testing. Prestige ER saw massive increases month-over-month in engagement, with page clicks reaching 11,236 from 3,591 (up by 212.89 percent) and post reactions totaling to 1,993 from 341 (a 484.46 percent increase).
The new year comes with uncertainties and challenges, but it’s also filled with opportunities. Partnering with someone that’s proven to deliver results improves your chances of overcoming the disadvantages of social while harnessing its advantages. Thrive is a social media marketing agency that’s well-versed in crafting a personalized, data-driven strategy across various platforms. We rely on research and analytics in deploying our services, which include social media advertising and social media brand management.
Contact us today or give us a call at 866-908-4748, and let us map out your social media strategy for the channel where your customers are likely to converge again in 2021.