As with any business process, you need to understand the pros and cons of each method so you can make better business choices. Social media is a relatively new form of marketing, and it has proven effective for both small and large companies. However, in order for social media marketing to be effective for you, know what it is you want from it in terms of payoff, and know what you are willing to give up in terms of resources and allocation.
To get a better idea of whether social media marketing is right for your small business we present a list of benefits and cons related to business use.
BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Wide Reach of Target Market
When it comes to finding an effective marketing channel, social media offers you the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Facebook alone touts over half a billion users. Twitter has over 100 million active users each day.
Using the classic sales conversion of about 1% to 5% of sales from marketing efforts, you can see that with such large numbers, you can increase the number of buyers for your product or service. But you must make the efforts to reach your target audience of each social media channel.
Social media sites allow you to create an account for free. Posting to those accounts is free. And free marketing is always a good thing.
But even though social media marketing may not cost you dollars out of your coffers, you still need to approach your marketing strategy as if you were paying for it.
Better SEO Ranking
Search engines have become one of the most popular ways for customers to find the products and services they need. With a few simple search words, your business can pop up on search results…and you have found an instant customer.
Now that major search engines like Google and Yahoo! have access to search content on social channels like Twitter and Facebook, you can improve your SEO through the updates you post on your social media accounts.
Improve Customer Relations
Social media has proven to be a successful way for any size of business to build and maintain customers. It gives you an opportunity to engage with customers with your interactions. Why do you think it’s called “Social” media?
Through your social media channels you can spark discussions, obtain market research data by asking opinions and feedback, improve how you handle complaints and returns, and even form positive strategic relationships with other businesses.
Branding is an ongoing marketing effort. And while branding through regular marketing channels can be challenging, you can easily improve your business identity through social media. That means using your business name, logo, and slogan on every social media account. It also means getting your business name in front of the right people, or your target market, so your business is more recognized.
CONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
By far the biggest disadvantage to using social media as a marketing channel is the amount of time required to make it successful. While any marketing effort requires time and effort to make it work, social media is unique in that you must maintain practically a daily effort to write posts and updates, respond to comments, and review results of previous updates.
Another disadvantage is the fact that whoever does your social media management could get “sucked” into the time warp of these channels. It is amazingly easy to read all your followers’ & fans’ updates, follow links to outside websites, etc, and find that 3 or 4 hours have mysteriously disappeared. You must maintain discipline in your time commitment in order to make social media work for your small business.
Lost in the Crowd
Another big complaint that small businesses have about social media is due to the sheer numbers of people and businesses using them. You can easily get lost within the millions of other commercial accounts and find it difficult to gain visibility to your target market. But again, social media requires you to form a sound strategy and review results to improve your efforts. That is the only way you can avoid getting lost among the cyber world of social media marketing.