The Pros and Cons of Social Media

In today's marketplace, Social Media has become the cornerstone of building a small business. It is true that social media can provide a wealth of new business and growth. But, it's not for everyone.

In today's marketplace, Social Media has become the cornerstone of building a small business. It is true that social media can provide a wealth of new business and growth. But, it's not for everyone.

Social media is built upon the same old practice of word of mouth and networking. That same principle is just further reaching for companies throughout the world due to advances in the technologies available and the internet. Word of mouth in today’s business is not only easy to deploy, but has a faster and bigger impact than it had ten years ago.

If you are considering engaging in Social Media to build your business, there are some pros and cons you must consider. Some business will take on Social Media as a full time endeavor. Others will simply use it as a part time opportunity to slowly build networking wealth.

Pros

  • Low cost compared to traditional marketing like print, television, outdoor, etc.
  • Quick, honest, and detailed feedback from your customers.
  • Allows for deeper engagements with customers.
  • Similar to big brand marketing, the benefits of doing social media right can last for years.
  • Every customer and employee is a potential media outlet and salesperson ‘for your company’: social media is word of mouth on digital steroids.
  • In the past, companies that had the most money to spend on marketing (advertising) often won. Today it's the company that produces great products and experiences for their customers. Social media delivers word of mouth at the speed of the internet.
  • Social media takes time and effort. Many companies aren't willing to do this. Those companies that put forth the extra effort stands out.
  • If you are a progressive company you can use these tools to effectively recruit new talent.
  • If your product, service and company have a unique and well thought out plan, Social Media can take on a life of it's own and grow your business at an exponential rate.

Cons

  • Often, many benefits of social media are seen in the months to come rather than immediately. It shouldn't be viewed like Google AdWords, which has a quick return. It should be viewed more like brand marketing and good customer service, which pays off over time.
  • Tools can quickly change; one day it is MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, and Bebo; the next day it's Facebook and Google +1.
  • There are a lot of hidden costs: it takes time to develop relationships with customers. In the offline world, developing relationships takes time and effort – the same holds true within social media.
  • For some business, taking on the responsibility of monitoring, reacting and handling Social Media development is a full time job. You may need to assign someone in your company to the job, or hire new staff as it grows. In some cases, outsourcing your social marketing to a third party firm who specializes in it is an option, but has a cost tied to it.
  • May reduce the amount of face-to-face communication with current customers and business base you already have.
  • If the customer feels they haven't been treated appropriately, they have powerful tools at their disposal (YouTube, Twitter, etc.) to express their side of the story and negatively impact your brand reputation. This can lead to excess effort to repair, or bury the damage using the same medium.
  • Often we turn over our brand ownership to employees and customers and they can take us places we don't want to go. Social Media can take on a life of it's own and hurt your business at an exponential rate.

Another thing to remember is Social Media does have some hidden costs tied to it. To do it right, you also need to develop strategies to include Social Media actions in your newsletters, on your website and perhaps in your print advertising. All the regular marketing you do should be fully tied to your new Social Media actions. So some adjustment to older practices is required to help the entire social endeavor develop properly.


And, when doing Social Media, don't forget to budget for some additional advertising costs. IE: creating paid ads on Facebook helps further drive your non-paid efforts.


Just like anything, there are some pros and some cons to social media. However, advantages outweigh the disadvantages for some business. Even if they didn't, sometimes we don't have a choice on whether or not we do social media. The question is how well we do it. The worst thing to do, is to do nothing when Social Media growth for your business starts to develop.