Social media basically refers to a channel for communication. They are a form of computer mediated communication that allows people to connect and correspond with each other. It can take different forms like internet forums, blogs, message boards, podcasts, pictures, videos etc. Social media marketing is the use of these social media to shift a product or idea from a concept to a consumer. It is a systematic process to establish a company’s reputation, recognition and influence among potential consumers by capitalizing on social media services.
In simpler words, it is your business interacting with your consumer online. It helps your company to be in direct touch with your customers and therefore establish a more personal relationship. There are mainly two approaches to implementing social media as a marketing tool.
Social media marketing has become one of the most important and affordable forms of online marketing. Its prospects have grown with the growth of popularity of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram among others.
In 2009, 23% of marketers were using social media. As of 2011, the statistics has grown to 31%. Different establishments are using social media marketing at different rates. Even small start-up businesses employ social media in their marketing policy with about 57% of the organizations using blogging techniques. Well established businesses like Tesco, The Body Shop, and Starbucks also use social media platforms to further promote their businesses to add to their ever growing pool of customers. It can be realized that many are still experimenting with social media marketing with the vision that it is here to stay and will play a vital role in acquiring and retaining customers.
Companies haven’t embraced social media marketing on a whim. There are benefits to adopting this technique to expand your business. Few of them are discussed below:
1. Increased brand recognition and brand loyalty
Social media are a means of representing your company and its content, and your visibility in social media boosts your marketing. It makes it easier for existing customers to follow your progresses on social media while simultaneously drawing potential customers to be acquainted with you. It promotes your brand and helps you expand brand recognition. According to Forbes, 94% of corporate are using social media and 85% said that it has given their business more exposure. Similarly, social media marketing gives you an outlet to humanize your brand by appearing to be more personable with your customers and interact with them. This amplifies a customer’s loyalty to you.
2. Decreased marketing costs
With online marketing on social media, the cost for marketing is easily affordable. It requires less manpower and also reaches out to a sea of potential customers. If you can dedicate a certain amount of time in building relevant content and strategy to promote your business, you will soon see results of your efforts. Paid advertising using adwords, Facebook and Twitter is also relatively cheap. Once you get the hang of what you expect from your strategies and what the customers expect from you, you can manage your budget efficiently.
3. Improved customer relations
For any business, it is a key element to know your customers. Social media allows you to easily identify potential customers and gather information on them to cater to their needs and expectations. Once you have this figured out, you will gain more and more loyal customers. Similarly, since social media enables you to interact with your customers easily, you strengthen your relationship with them. Also it allows you to communicate with them in a public format that lets other people to acknowledge the quality of your customer service.
Like every coin has two sides, social media marketing holds some risks as opposed to its scores of benefits. Some are listed below:
1. Lack of participation
Marketing using social media needs to start with a strategy. Without an effective strategy, you can get lost. You may have active social presence but no one heeds to your presence. It is important to know how your contents are being perceived by your audience and if they are reaching to your customers at all.
2. Security breach
You should be on high alert regarding brand or identity theft. On a global platform that uses online practices, it is necessary that you employ good IT security measures to prevent hardware and software security breaches. Also you should consider the possibilities of viruses and malware breaching your content on social media.
3. Losing customers
With more and more means of communication and more and more exposure to a larger audience, it can become difficult to keep up with each and every concern of every customer. If you ignore a customer, they will inevitably go away. You need to develop a strong monitoring plan such that a loyal and good customer gets the attention s/he deserves.
All in all, social media is inescapable and thus social media marketing is an effective tool to promoting one’s business, however small or big. If all of the pros and cons of social media marketing are effectively realized and implemented with balance, it can create huge waves of progress in your business.