The benefits and drawbacks of Social Media Marketing
Social media the second internet or the web 2.0 whatever terminology you may wish to use have taken the world by storm with social media networks now having an estimated 2 billion users up from 1.4 billion in 2012. Organisations are also jumping on the band wagon by creating dedicated company pages to communicate and interact with online consumers. But the real question is why do companies’ use social media, what benefits can it bring, and what the possible drawbacks may be.
According to Mandilberg (2012) companies use social media to market their products or services for a verity of different reasons.
One of the main reasons is to raise awareness and build a brand. Since social media sites already have a strong following, building a company page will allow companies to communicate to these potential consumers not just their self but also the companies brand, its culture and its products or services. Overtime social media users will review the company and its products and leave testimonials, which can potentially benefit the company if they are positive, as people tend to trust other consumers views and options and are less trusting of company statements.
Secondly, another reason why companies utilise social media is to undertake market research and discover what consumers think of the company, its products or services. This knowledge can allow companies to potentially change their products or services, as well as the company itself overtime to meet changing customer wants and needs, and thus stay ahead of the competition.
Another reason why organisations use social media as a marketing tool is to generate traffic to their website. By giving social media users a reason to click on your website they may sign up to your mailing list enabling you to keep in contact with that customer or book an appointment or potentially buy a product or service.
And lastly, another major reason why companies have established a social media presence is to fit in with the competition. Many companies’ are now using social media to market their self, research the market etc and if your company is not following suit potential consumers may interpret this in a negative light.
So we have heard a number of reasons why companies use social media to supplement their marketing strategy but what are the potential drawbacks.
According to Angeline G Close (2012) the benefits of marketing through social media sites may not become apparent for some time, and due to this many companies have given up on their social media and stopped tweeting, sharing etc etc, which means wasted man hours and thus wasted money and resources which could have potentially been better allocated elsewhere.
Another potential disadvantage is the wrong social media strategy could possibly damage the company’s image and reputation, leaving your company in a worse position than it was before.
Lastly one of the biggest and most damaging potential risks is consumers posting negative comments, feedback or testimonials, which are not always removable. Bad news can go viral just as quick as good news and if the company accumulates enough negative comments this could irreparably harm your business as people will no longer have confidence in the company its products or services.
Having a social media presence is extremely important into today’s business world. According to Hubspot (2014) 92% of marketers agreed social media is important for their business and that it generated the business more exposure by committing as little as 6 hours a week. In addition to this 58% of companies who have established a social media presence for 1 year reported higher search engine results. It is not just important to establish a social media presence it must continually be updated with a clear strategy in mind, you must also try and interact with customers, discover their thoughts and opinions, gain their loyalty and then use this research to adapt the company to meet the consumers wants and needs in order to achieve the most benefit out of social media with minimal risk.
Angeline G. Close (2012). Online Consumer Behaviour. New York : Routledge
HubSpot. (2014). 16 Stats That Prove Social Media Isn’t Just a Fad.Available: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/social-media-roi-stats
Michael Mandiberg (2012). The Social Media Reader . New York : New York University Press