Because social media has increasingly become the dominant form of communication in our society, it has opened a new door for businesses, both big and small, to promote their goods and services to their targeted audience. With that opening statement, one has to wonder if he or she is as business owner should include social media marketing in their overall marketing mix. This article will help to define first off, what is and what social media isn’t. Then, we will look at the reasons why a business should use social media, as well as the challenges that they may face at the same time. So get ready to like, love, or be shocked with what we discovered in our treasure hunt reviewing social media marketing for a business.
Defining Social Media Sites
Depending on the point of view that one may have, social media can include things that both apply and don’t apply to the true definition of what it is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines social media as a “form(s) of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)” (Merriam-Webster, 2018). Matthew Hudson, on The Balance Small Business website, states that social media allows people to share content quickly and in real-time (2018). Hence, this can be a very powerful tool for businesses to use to promote their goods and services to an audience at a fairly low price per user.
When looking at what is classified as social media outlets, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitch, Twitter, and YouTube are the most common players in the marketplace when it comes to social media marketing and promotion. Billions of users interact with others on a daily basis within these platforms, and they provide an opportunity for businesses to promote their message to, at worst, a tiny sub-section of a tremendous community. Search engines, on the other hand, are not considered social media (as some would argue otherwise) because there is no interaction that takes place between two (2) parties. Now that we have a better understanding of what social media is and is not, let’s look at some of the likes and dislikes of using it to market one’s business.
Positive Benefits of Using Social Media for Marketing One’s Business
Naturally, one of the biggest and most significant benefits of using social media to market a business is the exposure potential. With the exceptions of LinkedIn, which offers a premium subscription service to members, and YouTube, which provides a commercial-free television experience, setting up accounts are free to users. Depending on the platform, one may be required to set up a personal profile PRIOR to creating a business profile. This is true for Facebook, for example. Given that they had 2.23 billion active users in the third quarter of 2018, a number of those users have either created their own business page, are an active administrator of one, or have joint ownership of one with others (Statista.com, 2018). Additional research concluded that other large social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter follow a similar path. What this boils down to, is the fact that the audiences one can reach out to are significant and highly customizable. Unlike television and radio that only provide 60 seconds to air a commercial at most, social media advertising can be any length of time and targeted to a myriad of different demographical combinations. Providing it is engaging and relevant, all is good (Gyant, 2018).
A second benefit of using social media is the exposure of what one can do with the promotional advertisements they are creating. Though it was mentioned just in the last paragraph that the variables to create an advertisement and its audience are virtually limitless, this can be expanded a bit further to prove this benefit. Likely the biggest reason why businesses apply social media marketing to their overall marketing campaign strategy is the fact that it can build their brand or image quickly, efficiently, and with limited resources in a timely fashion. Since posts are done in real-time, a firm can broadcast an advertisement to their audience quickly and efficiently, and then move on to attracting new customers. Think of it as a snowball effect. As the momentum increases, so does the snowball (Mayo, 2016). If a firm is clever and creative in their marketing message, a small mound looking like a baseball can become a rapidly accelerating snowball of awesomeness that can significantly increase the marketing base that they have to work with.
The third and final benefit of using social media is through the users themselves. Much like in-person advertising, word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to spread the word to others. In a social media sense, this has a similar trajectory through shares, likes, pins, follows, and so on. Even piggy-backing on other businesses or forming marketing partnerships are beneficial as well (Blakely, 2016). Hence, engaging the audience and giving them reasons to promote your business to others carries the promotion above and beyond what was allocated budget-wise. Thus, as your following builds, so does the marketing base that they can successfully promote to.
Dislikes of Social Media Marketing
Every conversation naturally has two sides to it – the one that is good and other that isn’t so good. Social media marketing, though beneficial in most cases, does have some challenging disadvantages that may be too large for companies to overcome at times. First, if the intention is to just get attention for the business, certain social media platforms may do the job fine, while others won’t. For example, if a roofing company wants to promote their upcoming seasonal specials, the chance to gain business from LinkedIn or Twitch is a lot lower than Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. One has to be creative in their approach as to how to properly market to their audience. There is a solution, but we’ll come to that in a minute.
A second reason is the actual return on investment. There is a chance, albeit a small one, that firms who spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars in social media advertising may get zero business from their efforts. Combine that with the enormous amount of resources one has to dedicate, and this can potentially be a lose-lose situation (Sharma, 2013). This sadly happens every day, and it is done in the hope that something will occur; that all comes down to the message and how it is being provided to the intended audience.
One final reason that it may be wise to execute a limited approach to social media is the noise generated on the platforms. Noise, not in the verbal sense, is the tidal wave of information one receives in their feeds within places like Facebook, Instagram, and so on that can quickly drown the message a business intends to promote. Truthfully, as Kipp Bodnar commented on his article at hubspot.com, he stated “because information sharing is now so simple, the web is getting continuously crowded with more and more information that is spam or irrelevant” (2010).
Road Map Through the Social Media Jungle
The good news is that social media marketing, when done properly and correctly, can bring fantastic results to a company regardless of their size. However, it is challenging to get started in terms of cost, time, and strategy. The great news is that Integrity MCG has the knowledge, resources, and know-how to help your firm grow and prosper within the jungle in which various social media platforms reside. If you and your business feel lost and need help finding the way to a better tomorrow with the marketing strategy currently in place, give us a shout. We’re ready to help!
Dr. Danielle Jenkins provides insights and tips on how to strategically run your business in the most efficient manner possible.