Make no mistake — Social Media is a force!
Social media has been growing in importance for years. Now it is a lynchpin in any successful business and marketing strategy. What started out as a source of entertainment and amusement is now a serious full-scale marketing powerhouse.
If you have an online presence (and who doesn’t?), you have the potential to accelerate your sales and grow your leads through targeted social media marketing (SMM). With something this important, it’s crucial to understand the pros and cons when developing your social media marketing strategy.
Defining Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing or SMM is the use of social platforms, like Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, to market products or services directly to the consumer. It’s also a way to develop and manage your brand strategy and connect with users on a personal level.
Having a strong social media presence allows you to entice consumers to your website and your products or services. It also allows you to deliver content marketing that grows your business and brand while improving your organic search results and rankings.
You may post great blogs, articles, or white papers on your site, but how do you get the word out and invite people to read them?
The sheer number of people who engage on social media has made it an indispensable alternative to traditional marketing options. We’re talking billions of people worldwide. For the US specifically, it’s estimated that by 2026, 324 million people will be regular users on Facebook. Today, it’s over 71% of the total US population.
Passive vs Active Social Media Marketing
SMM can take two forms — either passive or active. Both are effective and should be used together.
- Passive SMM — passive marketing focuses on the content you post on your site, your SEO efforts, and maintaining your listings in online business directories.
These work great and can lead to high rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs) but can get an accelerated boost when used in conjunction with more proactive strategies. That’s when things really take off!
- Active SMM — active marketing takes those resources that were generated for your passive marketing campaigns and gives them a jumpstart with social media.
These can include paid and unpaid marketing campaigns, posting, liking, and commenting on social media, engaging customers in events, email, and networking, and bringing in influencers. Think of it as a conversation.
So, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of social media marketing. Where can you spend your time and resources to effectively reach your target audience and grow your business?
Pros of Social Media Marketing
Without a doubt, digital marketing is expanding the opportunities a business has to reach its customers. Starting with a well done web design, outstanding content marketing, and a strong social media campaign, you can drive traffic to your site and convert visitors into long-term customers.
Consider these benefits:
SMM is Cost Effective
With SMM, you have the potential to reach a massive audience and for a really small investment!
Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Twitter – they are all free to join. Once you develop strong content that can create ‘buzz’ with potential customers, you want to post it on your social media sites.
Blogs, podcasts, Instagram photos, TikTok, and Reels can all be leveraged to engage your customers and you can spend as much as your budget allows to produce the content.
For costs that are extremely reasonable when compared to TV advertising or magazine ads, you have access to a mind-boggling group of potential customers. Because of the huge potential of SMM, this is where a strong social media marketing agency could bring everything into focus for your business.
You Can Effectively Reach Your Target Audience
Through social media marketing, you can identify and focus on your target audience.
Creating relevant content and ads leads to higher conversion rates when you concentrate on the group most likely to benefit from your product or service. That group becomes infinitely easier to reach when you know where to find them.
There is a reason that Facebook (market cap of over $500 billion) and Google (market cap of $1.7 trillion) are now two of the most valuable businesses on the planet. They have developed (and continue to develop) advanced algorithms with the ability to target specific groups for advertising.
Whether you use paid ads or free posts, social media allows you to leverage your content and target hyper-specific audiences.
It Improves Overall Brand Awareness
Your brand is precious and should be treated like a fine jewel. Social media marketing allows you to build that brand and increase customer loyalty by honing and crafting the message that your customers receive.
Be sure brand awareness flavors all of your social media marketing campaigns whether you are using influencer marketing, paid ads, or TikTok videos. You want people to remember your company and your products and social media gives you the platform where consistency pays huge dividends.
Leverage Customer Engagement
Here is where social media marketing can be priceless.
Prior to the explosive growth of social media, businesses had a more difficult time developing a personal relationship with their customers. In fact, it wasn’t really even a consideration for most companies. They produced advertising and marketing that they hoped would appeal to their customers, but having a conversation wasn’t on the radar.
In comes social media — now businesses have the opportunity to build real brand loyalty and long-term customer engagement. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.
It means engaging people on social platforms, answering questions in real time, encouraging customers to leave comments and reviews, it means taking the risk of being available no matter what the circumstances, and responding to feedback whether positive or negative.
Participation is no longer a luxury; people expect it and will make buying decisions based on a company’s response (or lack of a response).
Data Driven Analytics are Readily Available
Determining the success of a social media strategy and ROI requires data. Using social media marketing means that you will have access to tons of analytics showing where your strategy has been effective and where you can improve.
If you are unfamiliar with how to extract the data or what it means, find the best SMM agency around to help you hone your efforts.
Cons of Social Media Marketing
As with every positive, there seems to be some corresponding negatives. Social media marketing is no different. Consider these drawbacks:
It Requires Dedicated Time and Knowledge
There are a lot of moving parts to a great social media marketing strategy.
An effective overall social media marketing plan needs fresh, relevant content of all types delivered on a frequent, consistent basis to the multitude of platforms. It can truly be overwhelming!
While there are some components that a company can handle initially, if done appropriately, the business will grow, and you will find yourself either spending your evening and weekends managing your social media or you may even unintentionally drop the ball. Neither is a good solution.
For many companies, the answer can be found in engaging an experienced SMM agency that can spearhead the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks required to keep all the plates spinning.
Budgeting for SMM can be Tricky
Costs for social media marketing can be tough to estimate, especially at first. Like many marketing functions, you may need some time ‘under the belt’ to see what your actual usage is for things like paid ads and what’s effectively bringing in new customers.
It also depends on variable costs like the time needed and production costs for content, as well as the cost to manage sites and engage customers.
One thing that seems universal — companies that do an effective job at kicking off and steering a successful social media strategy end up increasing their budgets as they find more and more ways to leverage their platforms.
Results Take Time
Impatience can be a killer in social media marketing. Solid results can take time and it’s difficult to maintain enthusiasm when you’re not seeing sales on an upward trend.
Active forms of marketing, like paid ads, have a more immediate result, but don’t ignore the other activities. They all work together to form a complete strategy.
Expect to see a lag time of six to 12 months before you start to recognize the payoff. Remember, you are building followers and authority.
It Opens You Up to Negative Feedback
Being active in social media opens you and your business up to potential negative feedback. Like your brand, your online reputation is at risk of being attacked.
Unfortunately, there are negative people out in the world that can target your business. The best offense is to maintain the utmost integrity in all your communications, comments, content, and posts.
Diligently monitoring and responding to negative feedback, reviews, comments, or responses on the various platforms is the most concrete way to dispel a problem. How you handle these situations is also something that other customers will read and remember.