The Pros & Cons of Social Media Marketing.
- Firstly, what is social media?
Is it just Facebook and the likes or is there more to it than that? Why are they so successful?
Well, social media is defined as the collective of online communications channels. These channels, otherwise known as websites and apps, are dedicated to a community-based input to keep their business growing.
- What else is important?
Interaction is another important feature of these websites, that is high up there in matter of importance. Content sharing such as images, statuses, memes, videos and more is an increasingly popular activity on these kinds of websites with no signs of dying out yet. Another thing that is increasingly popular is collaboration, particularly collaboration between celebrities and brands. This is known as being a brand ambassador, you’ll probably be more familiar with them on sites such as Instagram and Twitter.
- So, what kind of sites are out there?
I was surprised when I learnt just how many types of social media sites there are. Many people will assume that only the big sites are classed as social media. However, did you know that forum websites, micro blogging, social bookmarking and even wiki pages are among the different types of social media. Wikipedia huh, who’d have thought it?
- Want to learn more?
Anyway, it’s explaining time! By the time you’ve finished reading this, you should have an excellent knowledge on all thing’s social media! Let’s start with the most popular, Facebook, which seems to be the hyper-giant star of the social media universe! It is, of course, still the world leader when it comes to social networking.
Facebook is a highly popular, free to use social networking website. The website allows registered users to create profiles personalised to themselves, with many areas to add your own personal information – there’s even a space for your biography if you fancy sharing that much! Users can also upload photos and videos and share these across the site. This feature can be particularly useful if you live far away from your family or you’d like to keep in touch with old friends and show them what’s going on in your life. Another brilliant feature is the ability to add friends, you can even `favourite` certain friends so that you see their content first. How cool is that?
Sending messages is another of Facebooks most popular features. Many people nowadays don’t even bother to send texts, make a phone call or send a photo over to a friend on WhatsApp – nope, they use messenger. The clever messaging system from the brains behind Facebook itself. Video calls and voice calls can be made over Wi-Fi, so you don’t even need credit to make a phone call. It seems like Facebook has all intentions of taking over the world at this rate. Did you know you can send and receive money through Facebook messenger? I wonder what it will be next?
According to statistics from market research giant, Nielsen Group, there is more time spent on Facebook in the United States than any other website – wow!
- Pros of Facebook
It is super easy to set up, use and manage. Anybody can do it, even your grandparents! By providing a well thought out, streamlined user journey, Facebook has managed to reach more people than ever. Many people would be afraid of new technology, especially if they didn’t understand it. Simplicity is key here, don’t over complicate things – people don’t respond well to that.
It's integrated with Instagram, meaning you can share your amazing photos of last night’s tea!
Facebook allows organic tracking. If you have a Facebook page or group, you will have an insight by taking a quick look at your phone. Facebook makes use of clever tracking tools which show you exactly how many people you’ve reached, how many clicks you have achieved and, if you have run a marketing campaign, it will tell you just how much each click or engagement cost. You will be able to use this data to improve the way you market online in the future. Being able to see what works well and what doesn’t is a brilliant advantage of using Facebook.
It allows you to communicate both publicly and privately in real time. As mentioned previously, Facebook Messenger is a massively popular app. So much so, that it is now a stand-alone app, when previously it was only available through the Facebook app or website itself. You can send and receive money, make video and voice calls, send images, create group chats and much more. Money well spent on developing it in my opinion, I bet the costs involved were ridiculously high!
It's easy to be ignorant… If there’s a person that for any reason you no longer wish to connect with, then you can simply block that person. They won’t be able to contact you in any way, shape or form via Facebook and they won’t see any content that includes you in it if you have been tagged.
- Cons of Facebook
There are some strict rules for marketing campaigns on Facebook, all of which must be adhered to. If not, you risk getting your page blocked or removed completely. You can even be penalised by things as trivial as uploading a video with someone else’s music playing in the background, as you don’t have the rights to the music. In some people’s opinion it all seems slightly over the top, but from a legal point of view they’re doing the best they can.
Not only do marketing campaigns come with super strict rules, they also may be quite time consuming. Some marketing campaigns will have to run for a long time until you see anything in the form of results. Playing the long game can have its advantages though, depending on how you look at it. It can give you time to brush up on your social media skills and improve your website even more!
There are privacy issues when using Facebook. I’m sure you’re all aware of the data mis use issue that Mar Zuckerberg faced back in early 2018, he faced a hefty fine and people discovered some concerning things. Around eighty-seven million users had their personal data harvested for political purposes by Cambridge Analytica.
Twitter is a free micro blogging service that allows registered users to broadcast short but sweet posts, known as Tweets. You can choose to have your tweet to be displayed publicly or privately, showing only the friends that follow you on your Twitter account. Users can broadcast Tweets and follow other users Tweets by using multiple platforms and devices, it’s a pretty diverse social media network.
- Pros of Twitter
Again, this social media platform is very easy to set up and use. I was one of those that didn’t jump on the band wagon at first, when it came to signing up I was a bit worrying that it would be complicated… Needless to say it wasn’t at all.
By using a 280-character limit on Tweets, it helps to keep posts precise and to the point. There are no long, rambling posts which makes it much easier to skim read and take in at a glance what others are saying.
Twitter has a clever internal search function, meaning content is easy to find using hash tags. Search a specific hash tag and only information specific to it will appear.
It can be used as a sales platform, if you know what you’re doing.
- Cons of Twitter
The character limit may be frustrating to people that wish to write a longer, more elaborate post. This may limit the type of content people choose to post on this social media site.
Twitter isn’t the best platform for showcasing visual content, either. It is much more of a written content sharing network.
The sheer volume of messages and Tweets can prove annoying. You will find that this can easily lead to an information over load or even a complete loss of messages as they’re that hard to find.
Twitter metrics no longer appear on share counters, meaning your efforts can be wasted.
Google+, pronounced Google Plus, is Google’s social networking project. You’d be mad if you thought the internet giant would miss an opportunity like this, a chance to jump on the social media train to success. Well, I say success, Google is already successful enough… They like to have a piece of all things online, with social media being a massive part of the modern-day internet. It is designed to replicate the way people interact offline, rather than online, more closely than any other social networking services. Hence their slogan “Real-life sharing rethought for the web”.
- Pros of Google+
It’s great for SEO purposes. Google loves to showcase Google+ content in its SERP`s. I guess you get that luxury when you are the world’s most popular, most used search engine!
Being an easy to use platform which integrates with Gmail and Google Docs, makes everyday life that little less stressful for us all.
Finding people that you know is done with ease on Google+. If you fancy connecting with people outside your friendship groups, it’s also a simple task to do, simply have a browse through people then hit the follow button.
- Cons of Google
The platform itself is very similar to Facebook. There isn’t much to differentiate the two, other than branding, and in my opinion, Google are further behind in terms of developing new features on their platform.
As it has a lack of market share, its audience size is much, much smaller. Meaning that the audience you are trying to appeal to is limited. Not good when you are trying to promote your brand.
Promotions and contests are strictly forbidden – and we thought Facebook was harsh!
YouTube is the largest and most popular video content based social media website. It was founded on Valentine’s Day back in 2005 by three former PayPal employees. Just over one year later, it was brought by Google. YouTube now has over one billion users – that’s almost one third of all people using the internet! Every minute, more than 100 hours of video is uploaded to the video sharing site.
It has now become so popular, that many people use it as a channel to watch instead of Netflix, Now TV and the likes. Particularly young children, you’ll find that they will happily sit for hours on end watching videos about slime, watching other kids open Kinder Eggs and other pointless things. Not too long ago, YouTube introduced a paid service for such people, meaning adverts will no longer appear on videos when you subscribe to the service. Things can only get bigger and better for these guys.
- Pros of YouTube
Unbelievably, YouTube remains the second most popular search engine, after Google.
The platform allows you to connect a lot more directly with their audience. Users can react in different ways to the content published. They can rate the video with a thumbs up or thumbs down, you can share the video, subscribe to that contributors’ channel and even comment directly on the videos. This is particularly useful as you can use this throughout videos by asking questions for users to respond to in the comments.
Users don’t need to follow you to discover content. If you are uploading videos to YouTube publicly, then this will be open for any person to see. You’d be surprised at just how many people end up viewing your videos.
Content is displayed in SERP’s. Meaning it is a great method to use when promoting your brand, remember, even YouTube videos can be optimised for SEO purposes.
- Cons of YouTube
The quality and editing of content are hugely important. You should always make sure that it is top notch. Otherwise if done badly, you could end up losing subscribers and worst of all you could be left feeling embarrassed.
Using this platform as a marketing tool requires a great deal more time spent planning than most other channels.
Linked In is certainly the clear market leader when it comes to social media sites specifically for professional networking. No other site can offer an experience quite like it, it is brilliant for people looking to connect with others in a similar industry. You can use it to network with local professionals, to advertise a job position, to display business related information and much more. Did you know the website is available in twenty-four languages and has over 400 million registered users?
- Pros of Linked In
It allows networking opportunities and prompts direct business relationships. Over time, you can create a pretty impressive amount of connections on the website, strong connections too. This will reflect well on your Linked In profile as other users will easily be able to see what you’re about.
Knowledge and expertise are widely shared on this platform, meaning there’s more to it than just network. It can be used as a learning tool, too!
You have the ability to post blog length articles to showcase your expertise in a particular field. You aren’t limited by a word count like you are on other social media sites.
- Cons of Linked In
The business to business (B2B) focus means that the audience can be quite limited.
Adverts on Linked In are often poorly targeted. This could lead to a potential over load of irrelevant content. That’s not something you should be doing.
Pinterest only came on to the social media scene eight years ago, in March 2010 to be precise. Meaning that it is quite a newcomer in the social media universe. This platform consists of digital `boards` where visitors can pin their content. The site now has more than one hundred million registered users, it’s grown quite rapidly in just eight years! Did you know that more than half of the visitors to this website are women?
- Pros of Pinterest
Users are encouraged to discover content for themselves, it’s the basis of the site. So, there isn’t as much emphasis on actively engaging your audience, meaning you can sit back and have a cuppa while your audience does the digging!
All images on Pinterest are hyperlinked to the original source. You can see the trail of where the content has originated from.
Their selective following feature adds appeal to Pinterest’s audience.
If your target audience is women, that’s brilliant! This platform would be perfect for you, as many users are women.
- Cons of Pinterest
Fantastic image quality is a must. You need to ensure that the images you upload are well chosen, high quality and optimised well too.
The audience demographics can be limited, as there are many people on the platform with a similar demographic. Consider this before continuing down the route of Pinterest.
Much like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual content social media platform. The basis of Instagram is to share photos. It includes unique image filters along with video and photo editing tools too. The most popular subjects on there now are food, fashion, art, travel and other similar subjects. Adding hashtags to your posts (much like Twitter hashtags) will widen the audience that sees your post. Instagram is now owned by Facebook and boasts over four hundred million active users. It's unsurprisingly to learn that almost 95% of Instagram users also use Facebook alongside it.
- Pros of Instagram
It’s simple to use and easy to set up. The platform is self-explanatory and even includes helpful pointers.
It is currently one of the fastest growing social media networks. Perhaps is has something to do with helping people feel like they are professional photographers after using a filter or two, who knows?
User generated content on Instagram can be very powerful.
It appeals to a very wide audience – every man and his dog can be found on Instagram. Even if they do spend their time lurking around, not posting…
Instagram can easily be utilised as a sales platform. Social influencers are on the rise; these are people (usually celebrities) that get paid to advertise a product in a `natural` kind of way.
- Cons of Instagram
If you were hoping to squeeze in a link or two, you’re out of luck. Unfortunately, links don’t work in Instagram caption areas.
There are limited integration capabilities. Unlike Facebook, integration with other websites and platforms is much more limited.
It is very much an image based social media platform, not much use if you would like to add more text content, as you cannot do so without adding an image.
In A Nutshell...
The social media platform you choose to market on will greatly depend on your business type, therefore there are lots of factors to take into consideration. Which isn't a bad thing, as alot of them have been covered in the above article. The best way to figure out where to market is to sit down, review your business and decide which approach will be best for you. For example; text content focused would be suited to Twitter, text and image content pin pointed to a particular audience would be Facebook, and of course, video content would be YouTube.
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