Deciding whether your business should or shouldn’t have a social media account can be easy for some and difficult for others. Social media can increase your audience, but it presents some unique challenges that you have to think about. We get questions from small businesses all of the time. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of businesses without both websites and social media accounts. We’re going to discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of social media in this post.
The invention of social media is both a bad and good thing. It’s just another form of communication, but it has rapidly grown in popularity. A short attention span also means that smaller posts and single graphics take the place of longer, more complicated messages. It’s also a matter of convenience because many forms of social media are free and widely distributed as applications for iPhone and Android users. Since millions of people use social media, businesses consider it a source of potential income. Social media is not without risks. Smart business leaders need to consider advantages and disadvantages to having one or more social media accounts. This is not limited to just Facebook. Social media can include Twitter, YouTube, and nearly any other type of service that connects people.
We regularly poll our customers about their social media experience. Particularly, small businesses and restaurants have the most interesting advantages. The fact that popular social media platforms, like Facebook, offer free accounts means anyone can sign up and communicate. This means that even the smallest business can get the word out to a huge audience. Think of social media as a one-to-many form of communication. A business manager can post something as a single person and it can almost instantly reach millions of people.
Social media allows you to target specific audiences and gain insight as to what you might be able to do to increase interest in your products or services.
Many people would be troubled to know just how much information social media collects about people. Being able to tap into this information opens all kinds of doors. You can literally know how your customers found you, what they’re interest in buying, what they’ve already bought, the kinds of music they listen to, their religion, relationship status, credit history, voting record, favorite clothes, favorite food, where they shop, and so much more. Most people are unaware of what information is collected about them. This is a huge advantage for emerging businesses because they can use this information to guide their marketing efforts.
Social media allows you to share coupons and other incentives.
Why should someone care about your product of service? What’s in it for them? Businesses know that special offers, free stuff, and coupons attract customers. Social media offers a great platform because it can automatically display your coupons in a responsive format for nearly any kind of user, including smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop people. You don’t have to be a programmer or designer, which saves you all kinds of money.
Social media can automatically spread your posts, coupons, special offers, or stories.
The fact that millions of people use social media means that it only takes a few people to spark a fire. Once people start sharing your posts, they can quickly spread to a large audience. If you’re lucky, you can put effort into one post, sit back, and watch it explode. The best marketing people know how to make messages and get the most out of a single post. People like to discuss whatever is hot, trendy, curious, cheap, and free.
With millions of people, competition, short tempers, trolls, politics, hypocrisy, hackers, and PC culture, it’s important to recognize some important disadvantages and threats that come with using social media for your business or organization. We’ve actually got some interesting examples of disadvantages that some of our clients have experienced.
Social media can allow anyone to comment on your post or disrupt your message.
Without comment control, any anonymous online person can comment on your message, cause distraction, or even try to attack your post with malware links. There have been countless examples of trolls purposely disrupting a company’s posts, marketing campaigns, and arguing with other loyal customers. Unfortunately, the larger your company is, the more likely you will be to automatically experience this on a regular basis.
Emera Media has a trade secret method of disabling unwanted comments automatically for our clients. Unfortunately, it severely limits any commenting at all. However, more complete control of a message and comments means the power is in the hands of our clients – not an anonymous group of people online.
Social media can open you to attacks from competition.
Several of our restaurant clients report that competitor restaurants and their supporters were caught posting negative information on their Facebook and YouTube social media accounts. We looked into this and actually identified two employees from another restaurant that were posting false information about rats and hair in the food, a cook losing a finger, and the health department shutting down the restaurant. All of these were blatantly false reports, but they might be able to deceive your customers, if they didn’t know the truth. You must always be on the lookout for attacks from competitors.
Social media can drain you of time and money.
The fact that there are millions of users, even a hundred responses can take up time and money. It’s important for businesses to constantly monitor social media accounts for trolls, disruptions, false information, and any other damaging content. This means that the more you post and the larger your company is, the more time and money you will spend on social media.
In fact, some people hire full-time people just to take care of their social media accounts. It’s important to have a balance between what you actually need and too much allocation of resources to social media. Unless you’re making an increasing amount of money off of social media, do not keep throwing more of your time and money at it.
Should my business or organization have any social media accounts?
Since we’ve discussed some positives and negatives above, it’s a matter of thinking ahead. What kind of business do you have? Do you need to communicate with the regular public or just to another business? We always recommend that a business or organization first have a website before starting any social media accounts. This is because it increases authenticity, reach, and most social media accounts will require linking back to an official business or organization page.
If you’re still not sure, just contact us to discuss your website or social media needs.