If you’re one of the many businesses not enjoying the full benefit Social Media has to offer, then you could be limiting your potential and allowing your competitors to gain a better presence.
The challenge today is the sheer number of different social media channels available and the limited time and resources most businesses have to commit to these activities. It’s obvious which platforms offer the most most effective digital marketing opportunities to target new and existing customers. If used correctly, social media might also offer effective ways to manage a range of other tasks including customer relations, PR and raising brand-awareness.
We recommend considering the benefits and pitfalls of each to your company, your activities and customer base to work out which will likely be best for your business.
SOCIAL MEDIA BY NUMBERS
Social networking has been around a while: sites like Blogger (1999), Friendster (2002) and MySpace (2003) are perhaps some of the earliest modernly-recognisable social media websites. In 2006 the rise in popularity of Facebook became the catalyst for the social media revolution which would see mainstream adoption. Today, according to Mark Zuckerberg himself(and separately confirmed both other sources including Brand Watch), Facebook boasts more than an estimated 2 billion users- that’s about a third of the world's population!!
These figures also reveal how the number of social media users grew by a staggering 176 millionin 2016 alone, with around 12 new accounts opening every second. Today, there are a vast array of social networks to choose from, each of offering it’s own unique take on the social media platform. But among these, there are two that stand out in particular - Facebook and Twitter.
Of the 2.5 billion social network users estimated to exist across the globe, Facebook currently has an estimated 2 billion users, while Twitter has around 321 million, while other platforms have more active users than Twitter : YouTube having an estimated
THE PROS AND CONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
If you are unsure about the effectiveness of using social media to market, here are some of the latest statistics regarding social media for business:
- Social networks earned an estimated $8.3 billion from advertisingin 2015
- Social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide over the past 2 years from 2014 to 2016
- 38% of businesses plan to spend more than 20% of their total advertising budgetson social media channels in 2015, up from 13% a year ago
- Only 20 Fortune 500 companies actually engage with their customers on Facebook, while 83% have a presence on Twitter
- People aged 55-64 are more than twice as likely to engage with branded contentthan those 28 or younger
- 96% of the peoplethat discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles
- 78 percent of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour
While social networks can be great marketing channels, it’s worth noting they are also an effective way to reach out to millions of potential customers around the world.
Even if you eventually decide to pay for sponsored social media campaigns in order to reach even greater numbers, you have the option of testing each in turn to find out which is likely to be most effective for your business before committing to a campaign.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING – THE PROS
- Most, social networks are free to join and use, making them a cost-effective way to get your brand message across and directly target and engage with customers without committing yourself to any big spending on advertising.
- More traditional types of advertising such as magazines and radio may target a set of regular readers or listeners, social media has the potential to reach anyone in the world, regardless of age, gender or social status. Most social media channels will have some kind of targeting, which allows (if you wish) to target specific types of user should you decide to engage in a paid campaign.
- Most social media streams work in real-time, and so social media marketing is ideal if you need to quickly get a message across to your customers and influence them at any stage of the purchasing funnel, particularly handy if your business has flash sales.
- The casual and conversational nature of social media means it is a great way to generate interaction and connect with customers naturally. When carried out correctly, it improves company and brand image, loyalty and can be a quick way to resolve customer complaints or disputes as they arise.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING – THE CONS
- Many believe that social media marketing involves writing a few Tweets each week, or answering the odd response on Facebook. In reality, social media is time consuming with marketeers often spending between six and eleven hours managing these platforms as a basic minimum.
- Having a presence on social media means your brand can generate negative comments, ranging from complaints about products or services to outright malicious comments, all of which can damage your reputation. It’s vital that companies handle criticisms swiftly and have a company wide policy for dealing with malicious comments in a timely and professional manner.
- While social media marketing offers an effective way to reach a global audience, it can be difficult to accurately measure the return on investment (ROI), even with the wide range of analytics packages out there. And although social networks offer free platforms for you to post on, more often than not you’ll need to plan paid campaigns to get the best results – it’s worth noting though, that this can still work out to be a lot cheaper than other forms of marketing.
FACEBOOK VS. TWITTER
- Facebook includes the facility to be able to find and discover people and businesses in a very easy to use way. Once logged into Facebook, it automatically suggests friends you may know or businesses in your area. This gives the user the option to become friends so their updates appear in your news feed.
- Facebook’s user interface is said to be one of the easiest to navigate, we believe this is one of the core factors resulting in increased numbers of people adopting this platform.
- Facebook paid adverts bring a whole new type of targeted advertising. As people enter information about themselves on Facebook (for instance, age, gender and location etc) Facebook advertising can directly market certain demographics.
- Facebook allows you to host a wealth of information about you or your company and you can even create business pages that people can “like”, encouraging better engagement and improving brand reputatio.
- Facebook chat allows you to have personal conversations with other friends or business contacts instantly, online.
- Similar to Facebook, people can “follow” other users, meaning they recieve their latest tweets and retweet.
- Unlike Facebook, you can follow anyone in the world with a Twitter account. They do not have to accept you, however they can block you from seeing their updates if they choose. This can literally give you a worldwide reach in a way that suits your business.
- While Twitter is currently trialling longer tweets, for most users, Twitter only allows quick 140 character updates. This increases the response rate to your posts as people are more likely to read and comment briefly on a discussion that unfolds, rather than posting big long entries as other social media channels may encourage.
- Twitter only allows you to have a limited profile for personal or company information.
- It is easily used to spam followers
While Facebook and Twitter are the largest networks out there, many other social media platforms vie for your attention and some may even better lend themselves to your business and target audience. It's worth exploring and weighing up the pros and cons of each in a similar manner, and deciding what is best for you,
How does your business use social media? If you are in need of some advice or someone to help point you in the right direction, why not get in touch with us?