The Pros and Cons of Social Media
Social media marketing has huge potential for business. In fact, many businesses start simply as a “hobby” on social media. But, after building an audience, a business can be developed around the influence that’s been established. Many of these businesses are, in fact, influencers – their social media presence is their actual product. But for most businesses, social media is an asset to build an audience that you ultimately want to take action elsewhere. For example, you might want to send them to your website to buy your products. Whatever your industry or stage of business, you need to consider the pros and cons of social media to make sure you’re using it right.
It’s a tight rope between using social media effectively or using it just to waste time.
The Pros of Social Media
Massive Potential Audience
Social media now boasts a collective audience of roughly 4 billion people. All in all, about half of the world’s population is on social media. The potential is huge. This is no longer just a platform for tech geeks or kids. Whatever your niche or industry, there ARE enough people interested in your services or products online, right now, to make social media worthwhile.
Unlike a storefront or even traditional online customer service, like email support, social media is online 24/7. You can, for example, build a group on Facebook or LinkedIn where your community can talk every hour of the day and support each other. (Like in our Facebook group, All About Digital Marketing.) And because it’s online 24/7, you can make the most of an around-the-clock approach. Even if you’re sleeping, scheduled posts can go live. And if you use a chatbot, that can offer support via direct messaging too.
Social media has such a massive potential audience because it’s easy. The platforms have spent years and a LOT of money to make them as intuitive as possible because that’s how they’ll get (and keep) their users. Plus, after the initial novelty of social media wore off, the platforms realised they needed to be able to make money too. That’s led to accessible advertising tools on virtually every mainstream platform. It’s easy to use, easy to sign up, and it’s easy to create ads.
But an “easy” user experience doesn’t mean it’s easy to be effective…
The Cons of Social Media
Yes. The cons of social media look similar to the pros. It’s all about being aware of the weaknesses that the potential brings.
Massive Potential Audience… So Stay Focused
Unless you’re on Mars and you’re the only business selling oxygen, you can’t expect EVERYONE on the planet to be your customer. It’s easy to get distracted by the massive potential audience on social media. The problem with having a massive audience is that you can build the wrong community. If you focus on the social media metrics that matter, this won’t be a problem. But it’s all too tempting to look at follower count and think you’re being effective, when in fact you won’t be able to convert any of those followers into customers.
Online 24/7… Literally
Oh boy. It’s 5am and your phone is buzzing with a rampage of notifications. Déjà vu… It’s 12pm now, and, same thing. Oh, and at 11pm. And midnight. Did we mention social media is 24/7? That means you’re responsible for setting expectations, 24/7. You don’t need to have someone posting every hour of the day, but you need to be prepared for what happens when your business is “offline”. It’s important to set expectations like “online hours”, use automatic away messages, and – whenever possible – have monitoring tools in place to keep an eye on emergency situations and nip them in the bud. Emergency situations can include identity impersonation, rogue ex-employees sharing company secrets, really unhappy customers, and more. Unfortunately, online it can happen any hour of the day.
It’s Easy… For Your Audience
Like I mentioned, social media is easy. But it’s important to remember it’s easy for your AUDIENCE. Social media is designed to be easy for the average user to sign up, follow, comment, and start posting. And yes, it’s easy, to a point, for businesses too. Facebook won’t make money off ads if businesses don’t think they work, for example. But being effective isn’t easy. Staying up-to-date with the latest platform changes isn’t easy. It’s not easy to create engaging content, fantastic graphics, and relevant video content. And don’t forget: you’re supposed to be using it all to grow your business – and not just post for the sake of posting.
Results Don’t Come By Accident
To grow your business with social media, you need to approach it as a business. This doesn’t mean using corporate jargon or selling (in fact, sell on social media at your own peril). It means you have to have an end-goal in mind. You won’t grow your business or get the results you need by accident. If you don’t have goals or “KPIs” (key performance indicators) then you risk focusing too much on vanity metrics and not the metrics that matter.
Social media isn’t about having the most followers. It’s about building real connections and leading your audience on a journey. To do that, you need a strategy. We talked about this in a 30-minute webinar, which you can watch on-demand: