Everyone knows that a business needs marketing, but how important is social media in promoting your company to the masses? With 90% of businesses stating that social media marketing is important to them, what is making these digital methods of brand promotion so popular? In this entry, I am going to look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using these platforms to promote your business.

Advantages

The first major advantage to using social media platforms is the sheer volume of people that are available to you there. Facebook has 1.86 billion active monthly users, Twitter has 317 million, Instagram 600 million, LinkedIn 467 million and Pinterest has 150 million. Google + has the largest number of accounts with 2.5 billion created but many of these have never actually been used and the number of active accounts is estimated to be about 10% of this figure. Clearly, unless you are a huge corporation, you would struggle to have access to this vast number of potential customers. Obviously, you will never reach every single one of them but with such a high number of people, there is bound to be potential to reach your target audience.

The problem that a lot of companies have when it comes to social media marketing is the way they use it. People do not tend to react well to having promotion material forced in their face and these platforms are not an exception to that rule. Think about how you yourself use social media in your personal life. You should stick closely to this view within your business. The key word in this argument being ‘social’. Use these platforms to socialise with your clients. Interaction is the most important thing to remember here, chances are that if someone is following your business pages, then they know what your business does. You need to find subtle ways to promote your business but while having a clear focus on building relationships with potential and past clients. If you know how to use this to your advantage then you can use it to increase brand loyalty, spending five minutes every day scrolling through your feed on Twitter and looking at what your followers feel is important and what they tend to share and you can therefore use this free insight to build your feed and make it relatable to your target audience.

Another fantastic advantage to using social media as a marketing tool is the ability to have the posts you put out there driven to your targeted audience. This is especially valuable because it means that your posts are being seen by the people that are more likely to use your services, therefore making it more cost effective and resulting in a higher return on investment. A good example of this can be provided by ourselves as we are based in Yorkshire but are within a reasonable distance to Darlington, Northallerton, Newcastle, Stockton-On-Tees, Middlesbrough and all around the North East of England. Therefore, if we managed to reach international areas with our posts then this may not be the best way to generate business.

Having a strong social media presence also increases brand loyalty. Interacting with customers and working hard on developing customer relationships means that you become less like a business and more like a group of people who share a vision, which makes people more likely to want to become fans of your business and follow what you do.

Search engine optimisation efforts can also be drastically improved when you learn how to utilise social media. This is because it can earn you top spots in search engine rankings for keywords that relate to your business. It can also be a lot more cost-effective way to increase traffic to your site. This is because the cost per click through google is higher than it is if someone goes through social media platforms.

The layout of social media platforms, such as Facebook, also allows companies that offer many products or services to include all of these in a very clean, easy to understand way. An example of this is here at MGC agency, where we offer; website design and build, ecommerce, search engine optimisation (SEO), google pay per click (PPC), brand development, business grant funding, social media, mobile app development, business consultancy, website hosting and customer relationship management (CRM). As you can see, that is quite a mouthful, so having a clear and concise layout is especially important to make sure any potential customers can clearly see what we can offer them and it keeps our page looking sleek and professional.

The nature of social media platforms can also be seen as an advantage for marketers who are using it for what it is, which is a place for interaction. This is because users tend not to see social networking sites as marketing platforms so they are therefore more likely to see what you have to say, rather than see what you say as an advert.

One of the best things about platforms like Twitter and Facebook is that customers can very easily register any complaints, suggestions or any kind of feedback really and this can then be dealt with promptly. This is especially beneficial for your company as time and time again, studies have proven that consumers appreciate businesses which take the time to respond to complaints.

When attending events, it is also advantageous to post about them on social media. This shows that you are actually interacting with people offline as well as online and that you are active as a business. A great way to do this is to use hashtags for events or post on a group for the event if one is available. If you have any followers who are attending these events, it allows them to see that you are going to be there, so they can come and meet you, which could possibly result in a client. It also could mean that potential clients come to those events specifically with the intention of seeing you.

Disadvantages

With all the advantages still standing true, the fact of the matter is that proper social media marketing is time intensive and it takes a great deal of commitment from a dedicated social media specialist or even a team if you have a larger following and an intensive schedule. This can sometimes mean costs that some companies do not see the benefit in.

Another one of the major disadvantages in social media that many people have probably witnessed at some point is that there is a lack of feedback control. This is often seen when someone is not happy with a product or service that they have received from a company and then they post it on Facebook or Twitter rather than take up the matter with a company privately. This can then achieve a very high engagement and can spread very far. This can equal bad news for a business but good news for a consumer. The consumers tend to have the query dealt with promptly when this sort of thing happens but for the business, it can mean that everyone that had seen the original complaint may now have a sour opinion of your company and it may be difficult to then sway those people around to use your company again.

One of the huge problems with using social media to market is the distrust that a lot of people have of the digital world. Users see it as intrusive to their privacy when companies use social media. According to recent statistics, eight out of ten people do not feel comfortable about sharing personal information and place social networks low in security confidence.

A further disadvantage is that without using paid, targeted advertisements, local businesses can end up with a lot of followers that are not local. Having a lot of people following your business pages is only useful if they are potential customers and to be potential customers, unless your business is run online, then they need to be within a reasonable distance to where you trade from. It is very difficult to reach people like that without paying for particular promoting of the posts you are putting out there.

An important point to consider when you look at social media marketing is that the people that tend to follow you will be current, loyal customers but a lot more effort is needed to attain new business and this is critical if you are looking to grow.

Overall, like everything, social media marketing has its positives and negatives but in my opinion, the positives far outweigh the negatives. When it comes to business, it’s all about staying ahead of the competition, and they are using social media to promote their companies. 91% of them in fact, have more than one social media platform. The question you need to take away from today is ‘am I using social media marketing to its full potential?’ If the answer is no, then isn’t it about time you do?