Silly GIFs and cat memes aside, social media is a massive arena of opportunity for companies looking to grow audiences and build their brands. It’s not just a good idea for your business to be active on social media – it’s a must!
But like any marketing strategy, there are pros and cons that come with the territory on social media. Here are some key points that successful business owners keep in mind as they make the most of marketing on social media.
Where else can you drop a product announcement, answer audience questions, and casually insult a competitor in a matter of seconds? Social media is where it’s at, and the feedback is instantaneous.
“One of the pros of social media marketing is that brands receive instant feedback from potential customers,” said Fred Gerantabee, CEO of Foster Grant. “This can provide valuable information about what customers expect. One of the cons of social media marketing is that it’s possible that no one will engage with your brand. It’s easy to build a page but maintaining it and building a community that interacts with it takes a lot of time and effort.”
Every piece of feedback is valuable, so let it guide you in the right direction.
You can put in countless hours of work building a social media presence on your own, or you can call on your audience for help. With the right incentives, they’ll make content that further expands your reach and influence.
“User-created content is something worth discussing and pursuing, since you can make huge gains in audience and engagement,” said Bing Howenstein, Founder of All33. “Just be cautious when curating this content and making associations with users on various platforms, because you want to keep your message relevant and professional.”
The pros and cons of user-created content are many, so weigh your options carefully.
Aim for ROI
Unlike ads and other forms of direct campaigns, it can be tricky to gauge the ROI of social media marketing. Set metrics having to do with follows, clicks, and engagement to stay on track.
“Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources,” said Sean Gardner, Social Media Power Influencer at Forbes. “Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.”
Only when you track and manage your social media initiatives will they improve and yield peak results for your brand.
Flying solo is counter-intuitive to the whole idea of social media in the first place! Make as many connections as possible and create strong partnerships with relevant influencers.
“Making use of social media marketing involves a lot of skill and the ability to build relationships with followers in order to build an online presence,” said Dr. Anthony Puopolo, CMO of Rex MD. “Unfortunately, many people conflate having an active personal page with the know-how to build a successful business account. Social media marketing is a skill that involves a lot of time to master.”
You don’t need to empty your pockets to create an effective presence online, especially if you build a coalition of influencers and partnerships.
Don’t just slap together a quick ad and expect it to convert big numbers on social media. Step your game up and put in the effort required to stand out – first impressions.
“The pros to social media marketing are obvious, it can really help you grow your business,” said Chris Gadek, Head of Growth at AdQuick. “One of the biggest cons to social media marketing is that you have to invest a lot of time in making sure you get the ads right. This can be very time consuming and limit your production in other aspects of the business.”
If you need to outsource your ads to professionals, so be it. Just don’t waste your money and time on ads that do more harm than good.
While ads can bring about some quick hits of traffic to your page, organic SEO will be doing most of the heavy lifting on social media. Focus on content, quality, and engagement to rise in the ranks on Google and beyond.
“Social media marketing can help you get better natural rankings on search engines,” said Jenn O’Hara, CEO of Soba Recovery. “Fostering an online community around your brand provides value which is what Google is looking for these days. Unfortunately, social media marketing can be a double-edged sword. Online communities can involve more than just the marketing department. They can involve sales, HR, and management as well. When the marketing team has to wear too many hats, they can experience burnout.”
There are countless ways to pursue organic SEO successfully – pick a plan and go for it.
You don’t have to look very far to see powerful campaigns raking in huge numbers on social media. Watch what the top dogs are doing and try to replicate their efforts with your own branded twist.
“The pros of social media marketing are many,” said David DiLorenzo, President of Valentino Beauty Pure. “It’s fast, low cost, and there’s a huge audience. Social media is one of the fastest ways to reach your target audience and at any time of the day. Another pro is how large the audience is on these platforms. You can send your message out to your target audience, but it can also reach a wider audience just through hashtags, comments, and re-shares. The cost for this type of marketing is also extremely low, which makes it attractive to businesses of all sizes.”
There are many ways to win in social media marketing, but creativity and consistency are rewarded most – start there.
Pick a Platform
You’ve got options when it comes to social media platforms, and it seems like new ones are popping up every day. Rather than jumping around between dozens of platforms at once, pick one or two and go all-in.
“The most important thing about social media marketing is to choose your platform,” said Fred Gerantabee, CEO of Foster Grant. “Will you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok? Once you know the answer, you can tailor your strategy accordingly. If you’ve never done social media marketing before, the landscape of these platforms can seem overwhelming and may not yield the results you want right away.”
After you grow an audience on one platform and learn the marketing landscape, you can confidently move onto the next one.
Put in the Work
There are no shortcuts in the world of social media, despite what you may think. The algorithms reward time, effort, and consistency. There’s no way around hard work!
“Social media marketing provides a low-cost and effective way to get your product or service in front of the eyes of customers,” said Jordan Smyth, CEO of Gleamin. “One of the downsides, however, is that if you are new to it, potential customers might not see or engage with your posts.”
You can enjoy social media marketing and have fun with the process, but don’t expect to achieve overnight success.
Marketing is a game of resource allocation, just like all aspects of business. Think about how you want to grow your following online, and consider how social media can help you hit those goals.
“You can buy attention (advertising),” said David Meerman Scott, Marketing Speaker and Bestselling Author. “You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”
Avoid the trap of relying 100% on social media – balance is crucial in any marketing strategy.
You can grow your brand incredible fast if you know how to navigate social media and push the right buttons to engage audiences. Learn best practices and apply them, but don’t hesitate to take risks as well.
“The pros to social media marketing is that you can help spread brand awareness very quickly to a large number of people,” said Craig Carter, CEO of Jack Mason Brand. “If you are just starting a company, social media is a great tool to help you grow your business and customer base. The con to social media is that the ads can get very expensive over time.”
Experimentation is necessary in all marketing ventures, social media in particular. Keep some money around and be ready to burn cash along the way to see results.
To succeed in social media marketing, you must hit the mark with every announcement, advertisement, or other pieces of content you post. Failure to target a narrow audience will leave you treading water.
“One pro of social media marketing is that it allows you to tailor ads for your target audience with extreme precision,” said Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay. “However, this strategy can require a substantial amount of time and energy because your content must have different versions for each platform. So, social media marketing is great for reaching your audiences quickly, but the process won’t be as fast.”
Take your time when targeting, because otherwise precious resources may be wasted.
Trial and Error
Before you zoom in on a niche and enjoy the benefits of social media marketing, you need to embrace a trial-and-error mentality. This can be frustrating at first, but worth the wait.
“The pros of social media marketing is that you can target your audience with great granularity,” said Lauren Picasso, CEO of Cure Hydration. “This allows you to target the right people for your product or service. The cons to social media marketing are that you have to cast a wide net in order for it to be effective.”
Don’t get ahead of yourself and skip steps when building a social media presence. There is no substitute for daily input and effort.
A self-sustaining community should be one of the long-term goals for any company on the social media scene. People who truly care about your brand and share that passion with others – these are loyal customers for life.
“Social media marketing can result in a loyal online community around your brand which can help drive sales,” said Tim Mitchum, Founder of Winpro Pet. “Unfortunately, this won’t usually happen right away unless you go viral and even then, it takes a lot of time and effort.”
You will need to get the ball rolling with your social media community, but eventually, the momentum will carry things forward with minimal maintenance.
Effort Pays Off
We see plenty of overnight success stories on social media, but there’s always more to these “out-of-nowhere” brands than meets the eye. They’ve been working hard for months or years, and only now are you seeing the fruits of their labor.
“Social media marketing takes a lot of effort, but it can be worth it in the long run especially when you stick to it and see your brand take off on your platform of choice,” said Randi Shinder, CEO of SBLA. “You can choose to do it yourself or hire someone else to do it. Because of the amount of time involved and uncertainty in results, it might be a better idea to hire outside talent.”
Commit yourself to the marathon mentality of social media marketing, because results won’t happen overnight.
Traffic is the name of the game on social media, but not just any old traffic will do. You want qualified leads visiting your site, researching your products, and ultimately making purchases time and time again.
“I think social media marketing has a lot of potential to bring in new customers,” said Jeffrey Brown, President Big Fig Mattress. “You can do it yourself or have an agency help you out. Agencies may not be the most cost-effective, but they have the experience to get the job done.”
Outsourcing social media marketing is definitely something to consider if you want those qualified leads to keep flowing.
How much time are you willing to put into your social media marketing strategy? It might take more of an investment than you initially thought. Remember, this isn’t a magic-pill marketing fix, but rather a real and important part of your overall strategy.
“One con to social media marketing is that you have to wait a long time to get a return on investment (ROI),” said Darren Litt, Chairman and Co-Founder of MarketerHire. “This paid marketing approach takes time to develop and although social media ads can be very effective, customers take a long time to make a purchase. Having the patience to wait for your ROI and start to see the true value of these social media marketing tactics will prove very beneficial for your business long term.”
By now, the power of social media marketing should be apparent to business owners in any industry, at any stage of their ventures.
Apply these tips and avoid common pitfalls to maximize your marketing efforts on social media moving forward.