- Potential Reach
Social media offers a cost efficient and effective way of reaching a very large audience, a good reason why so many organisations have dedicated social media marketing teams now.
A report by Salesforce in 2015 revealed that 66% of marketers had appointed such a team in response to the size of the available audience’s constant growth. We are Social/Hootsuite’s carried out a study showing results as of January 2017, as shown below. The figures I would like to highlight are the active social media users and the active mobile social users. The active mobile social users had grown by 30% compared to the previous year, confirming easier and more frequent access to a huge database.
- Higher Conversion Rates
Increased visibility on social media means there are growing opportunities for conversion. One benefit of social media is it enables companies to personify their brand through constant interaction with their customers and followers. This increases both transparency and consumer trust in an organisation. A study by HubSpot revealed that social media has a 100% higher lead to close rate than outbound marketing. Another report by Social Media Examiner showed 66% of marketers saw lead generation benefits by using social media platforms 6 hours per week.
- Improved Brand Loyalty
Elite Daily & Crowd Twist produced figures showing that millennials (people born between the mid-1980s and the early-2000s) are the most brand loyal generation with 50.5% saying they are extremely or quite loyal to their favourite brands. Elite Daily also found that customers are 62% more loyal to brands that directly engage with them on social media. Brand Loyalty is vital for an organisation on two counts. Firstly, it is cheaper to retain customers than market to new ones. Secondly, these loyal customers are more likely to share content on a product or service and post their experiences with a brand so generating positive eWOM.
- Gain Marketplace Insights
Because social media is so immediate, it enables people to see the views of others within seconds of sharing. This provides a unique opportunity for brands to monitor their marketplace and keep across the latest consumer trends. Companies can use social media as a complementary research tool to better understand the marketplace. Sites such as Sprout Social allow marketers to measure engagement, performance and monitor ongoing campaigns enabling brands to maximise and update the effectiveness of their platforms constantly.
- Negative Feedback
While one of the benefits of social media marketing is that a successful campaign achieves instant impact in the market spreading positive eWOM like wildfire, this is a dangerous two-way street. Users are more inclined to share negative feedback and bad news has a habit of travelling faster than good. An example of this reaction came when food company epicurious made an ill-considered reference to the Boston Marathon tragedy to promote a product in honour of the victims:
Unsurprisingly, their crass tweet provoked a strong response from users that felt it disrespectful in the extreme and jumped on social media to voice their anger and publicly shame the company:
A mistake of this proportion gives a new product a branding and reputation that it is difficult to shake off or fully apologise for. Due to the nature of social media a tweet is public and permanent in the ‘webiverse’ and can never be fully erased.
- Potential for embarrassment
Embarrassment for a company is another risk if their social media account is poorly managed or maintained. Disgruntled customers or, in some cases, employees have a platform on which to share their grievances with millions of people that might not otherwise been aware of the failings of a product or service. The greater the reach that a company achieves in search of positive marketing, the greater the risk of negative publicity going viral. HMV found this out the hard way. The company made 60 workers redundant at a time when an unhappy employee was manning the twitter account:
These tweets portrayed the brand in an extremely negative light because they provided an insider’s view of HMV. What made this particularly damaging was that it was tweeted to followers of the company who, because of their active interest in the organisation, were more likely to share the tweets and therefore the ill feeling.
- Time Intensive
Due to the fast and constant pace of the internet, social media marketing can be extremely time-consuming and labour intensive. Companies with small social media teams may not be able to devote the resources necessary to maintaining a regular presence on platforms or to monitoring potential problems and dealing with them. A strong team will continually check and update all networks, responding to questions and feedback as well as recycling valuable positive reviews. If an organisation is unable to maintain a favourable round-the-clock profile it can often be more damaging than not having an online presence at all.
Social media marketing is still a relatively new idea and so constantly evolving as companies become better at understanding the different platforms and new trends emerge to engage in a more focussed way with their audience. Hootusite has produced a list of the top themes on social media for 2017.