The Benefits and Risks of Social Media Marketing

The Benefits and Risks of Social Media Marketing

Definition of Social Media Marketing

The use of social media websites and social networks to market a company’s products and services. Social media marketing provides companies with a way to reach new customers and engage with existing customers (Radcliffe, 2017).

How Social Media Marketing can be used

Value comes not from the platform itself but from how a particular social media platform is used. More importantly, social media applications have the potential to provide additional value beyond familiar e-commerce activities such as distributing content or driving sales because they enable the formation of online customer communities (Culan et al. 2010).

A useful link here for a quick insight into what Social Media Marketing can be used for:

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Increased Brand Recognition – New channels for your brand’s voice and content, which is important as it gives another channel for new/existing customers to find information on your brand and products. By focusing on the right channels and balancing the content, you can increase brand recognition and penetrate to your target market.

Social media channels are a key way to interact with customers and build those human relationships (Sklar, 2013). Which can be pivotal when the customer then comes to choose whether to invest in your product and can make the difference. As customers are more informed and have more choice than ever before, so if their expectations aren’t met, they’ll move on quickly (Sklar, 2013).

Specifically, social media can offer a powerful way to track your brand awareness online. This can be done in several ways. Conversation can be tracked to see what customers are saying about your firm and measure change in this over time (Frederiksen, 2015). This can be measured through ‘Social listening tools’ such as Echobot (Echobot, 2017). Also, you can track the expansion of your reach online by your number of followers, fans, and contacts.

‘Viral’ Campaigns – Can be described as an ‘internet meme’ and is often a video, image or a story that spreads rapidly across the internet. Sometimes memes are randomly spread or can be controlled (Brown, 2011). An example of this is a recent viral campaign run by Poundland on twitter, which became an instant internet hit by sharing controversial ‘elf on the shelf’ images (Shown below). Viral campaigns can create massive amounts of traffic to your social medias but however are extremely hard to pull of and tend to require the ‘bandwagon effect’. They tend to not last long and are faddish but do give a huge surge in traffic (Brown, 2011).

Promotion Tool – You can use your social media page to offer exclusive deals on products or services, which can attract customers to your page. Even use it to gain customers to other marketing channels in Chaffey’s model, such as offering a deal if you sign up to the email list (Litster, 2017).

For extra information and in-depth points, these links are handy:

Risks of Social Media Marketing

Impact of Word of Mouth – Especially through social media sites, news can spread like wildfire and especially in situations of negative connotation. When Netflix announced it was changing its pricing structure, its customers revolted, posting 82,000 negative comments across its blogs and on Facebook and Twitter. Within months the company lost 800,000 customers and two-thirds of its market value (Benioff, 2012).

Cyber Security Risks – Social Media accounts can be prone to security breaches, breaches of client confidentiality, leaks of intellectual property, and violations of the firm’s policies or codes of conduct (Culan et al. 2010). Breaches and leaks could have devastating impacts on a company’s brand image, leaving customers and clients unlikely to invest in a company’s products or services if the strike is potent enough. Also, these types of leaks could lead legal action, which is why social media accounts should require strong passwords and firewall protection.

Employee Credibility – In a firm’s social media team a large number of employees may be creating content or interacting with customers on behalf of the firm (Culan et al. 2010). These employees must be trust worthy as they are the face of the company online. Poor responses or answers can cause viral outrage, which potentially could cause the company to lose potential customers.

Example of how social media can be used effectively

Apple – Using the #Shotonmyiphone as a marketing campaign across Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Which helped to increase engagement across its audience. To be featured in this campaign all you had to do was use the hashtag “#ShotOniPhone” and you had a chance to be featured on Apple’s social media accounts.



Benioff, M. (2012). Welcome to the social revolution. [online] BBC News. Available at: [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017].

Brown, R. (2011). Public relations and the social web. London: Kogan Page.

Culan, M., McHugh, P. and Zubillaga, J. (2010). How Large U.S. Companies Can Use Twitter and Other Social Media to Gain Business Value. MIS Quarterly Executive, [online] 9(4). Available at: [Accessed 28 Dec. 2017].

Echobot. (2017). Online Media Monitoring with Echobot: Powerful and simple.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017].

Frederiksen, L. (2015). The Top 10 Benefits of Using Social Media Marketing for Business | Hinge Marketing. [online] Hinge Marketing. Available at: [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017].

Kaplan, A. and Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1).

Litster, C. (2017). 8 Best Practices to Promote Your Business on Social Media. [online] OPEN Forum. Available at: [Accessed 28 Dec. 2017].

Radcliffe, B. (2017). Social Media Marketing (SMM). [online] Investopedia. Available at: [Accessed 28 Dec. 2017].

Sklar, C. (2013). How to use social media to understand and engage your customers. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017].