Pleading the Case for Social Media: The Pros and Cons
Those of us who work in social media can’t fathom why someone wouldn’t want to leverage it to promote their brand. Some of us were just were born with hash tags in our DNA and LIKEs in our blood. However many people still fail to see the true value of a quality social media effort. This can pose a problem when trying to get a brand to embrace using social media, therefore those of us who were gifted with the social super power have an obligation to fight the good fight and promote the benefits of social media. As with everything, understanding the benefits of something also means that you should be aware of the pitfalls as well. Hubspot recently released a great whitepaper discussing the pros and cons of social media and SEO. I think they provided some good insight as to why some brands might be for and against diving into social media. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the magical world of social media marketing.
1. Social Media Helps SEO
Whether you know it or not, strategic social media marketing can support your SEO efforts. Google is constantly trying to find ways to serve people with the most relevant search results possible. If people are sharing content from your site frequently, Google HAS to recognize that content as quality. Having social share buttons on your website is a great idea to help facilitate this effect. Having a great social presence might also help attract guest bloggers who would surely help share links to their work, so spruce up that social effort for SEO’s sake!
2. Social Media Creates Relationships
This is probably the most well-known benefit of social media marketing, and possibly the most important. Studies show that the more time that a person spends with a brand; the more likely they are to buy from them. Creating and reinforcing relationships is very difficult to do with only your website. Social media gives your brand a voice and allows a personalized experience for a community of people who express interest in your brand. These relationships will create positive word of mouth and a positive brand perception.
3. Social Content Can Be Re-used
The content that you distribute on one social media channel can be used on another. One simple blog can be made anew a few times depending on how you post about it. Keep in mind that you always want to take in to consideration the structure and culture of the social channel you are posting to. Be sure to use appropriate hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ (NOT Facebook, UGH!) and think of a good call to action when posting on Facebook. A single content piece can have many legs with social media.
4. Niche Networks Means Targeted Customers
Social media can be very beneficial if you are active in the channels where your target audience is. If you are a B2B company, consider spending more time in LinkedIn. Are you a fashion brand? Consider stepping up your efforts on Pinterest. Social media has gone from two major power players that catered to a general audience to a fragmentation of different sites where different demographics of people congregate. Find out where you desired audience is and get busy!
5. Creation of Great User Generated Content
User generated content is the holy grail of social media marketing. A positive comment or tweet not only serves as a great endorsement of your brand, it also has much more resonance that a brand generated marketing message. I would argue that a photo that a person posts using your product is way more powerful than a stock image with your logo imposed on it. Embrace user generated content and strive to create a social community that welcomes it.
1. No Content = No Bueno
An issue with social media is that leveraging it won’t be beneficial without content. It’s possible for virtually any brand to be successful; however content is the metaphoric gas that makes the car go. Without content you will have a branded shell simply taking up e-space. If you really want to make your brand social, you have to invest time and effort in content generation. Many brands don’t have the time or manpower to pump out sharable content.
2. Success Takes Time
I often say that social media is a marathon and not a sprint. At the end of the day, all that matters is what impacts the bottom line and proof of that impact from social media takes time to see. A brand must establish a presence, build a community, perfect its content strategy and develop a way to track their efforts. This process needs ongoing nurturing and a lot of brands want to see the immediate return on their investment in social. Unfortunately it takes a bit of time to see growth and success.
3. Social Content Has a Short Shelf Life
We mentioned that social media presents a way to give one content piece multiple legs, however social content ages very quickly so there is a need continuously create content. Content ages at different speeds on each channel, so there can be some frustration for brands when it comes to creating content.
4. Constant Need for Monitoring
There are millions of conversations happening right this very second across the social web. The likelihood that a few of them are about your brand is pretty good. It is very important for brands to frequently monitor engagement and brand mentions. This allows them to be proactive for simple customer service issues and foresee customer backlash when larger issues arise. Similarly to the content conversation, brands simply don’t have the time or manpower to keep tabs on the ever growing social conversation.
Nathan Mendenhall is a social media professional at THAT Agency in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has extensive experience with creating and implementing successful social media strategies for both B2B and B2C brands. Connect with him at @NCMSocial or @THAT_Agency!