SOCIAL MEDIA CHEAT SHEET : BENEFITS vs CHALLENGES
What it is/does:
Facebook is a platform for sharing photos, text messages, videos, status posts and opinions. The site can be entertaining and a regular daily stop for many users. Shared content can be made publicly accessible or kept private. Although it started as a platform to connect with friends and family, it rapidly became popular among businesses that are able to target specific audiences and deliver ads directly to people most likely to show interest in their products or services.
Benefits: Some advantages of Facebook for business owners may include:
- Brand awareness: Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms in the world. By placing your business on Facebook you can gain considerable exposure to potential clients.
- Drive website traffic: By posting links to your website you can increase online visits.
- Targeted advertising: Facebook advertising allows you to target very specific demographics.
- Generate business leads: There are several ways to gather sales leads on on Facebook: such as post likes, page likes, competitions, giveaways, discounts, and interesting information about your products or services.
- Customer service and feedback: Facebook allows for two-way communication between businesses and their customers or other interested parties. Reviews and comments keep you on your toes. Feedback is useful for businesses who really care about their service. A messaging service allows you to communicate directly with individual customers.
- Monitor and improve: Facebook insights allow you to closely track and understand the type of content that works best for your advertising efforts. Over time you can plan accurately to increase your ROI substantially.
Challenges: Although there are many benefits, there are potential downsides to consider when using Facebook for business:
- Time and resources required: A properly run Facebook page for business requires time. You may need to delegate this task if you want a well managed page with a consistent flow of engaging, timely content.
- Skills: It is necessary to have the proper skill set to utilize Facebook to it’s full potential. The person who manages your business page should know how to plan and create great content, respond with efficient speed to enquiries and feedback in order to effectively represent your business.
- Budget: To make the most of the advertising opportunities offered by Facebook, you need to allocate a budget for paid-for advertising. You need a specific skill set for getting the best ROI from paid advertising on Facebook.
- All feedback is public: The two-way communication structure of Facebook pages means that unhappy customers can voice their dissatisfaction in a very public way. Your response needs to be handled professionally to withstand sometimes brutal scrutiny from your audience. It is not advised to remove negative comments unless they cross a line of common decency.
CONCLUSION: Love it or hate it, you cannot ignore it. With 128+ billion users worldwide, this is the most likely network to contain the largest number of your target market.
What is is/does:
Twitter is a very popular microblogging and social networking service. Users post and interact using “tweets”. Tweets are restricted to 280 characters. Many businesses use Twitter daily to reach and connect with their customers.
Benefits: Some advantages of Twitter for business owners may include:
- Reach a wide audience using hashtags: Twitter has a large user base which is likely to include a considerable amount of potential customers. Hashtags can assist to reach a niche audience interested in a particular topic or situated in a particular location.
- Deliver good customer service: This platform also allows direct two-way communication with your customers. All interaction on Twitter is public and if you manage it professionally it can enhance your marketing efforts.
- Brand identity: Twitter is a good platform to establish and grow your brand character, conduct and personality. Use this wisely to increase your appeal among your customer base and target audience.
- Feedback: Feedback from customers is important for businesses who really care about their products and services.
- Cost: Twitter accounts can be set up free of charge. Paid ads are available but many businesses see sufficient benefits from organic posts and interactions.
Challenges: Although there are many benefits, there are potential downsides to consider when using Twitter for business:
- Time and resources: Maintaining a professional presence on Twitter requires a time commitment. It is important that the person or people maintaining the Twitter account have the right skills and training.
- Negative feedback: All complaints and comments on Twitter are in the public domain. It requires finesse to deal with negative comments in a way that increases your integrity and shows a willingness to improve your customer care at every opportunity.
- Time sensitive: Unless you tweet when your followers and target audience is online, your tweets may be missed. Timing is important.
- Spam: There are spam accounts on Twitter. As with any online activity one should exercise caution when clicking on links from users you do not know.
- Character limit: You are restricted to 280 characters per tweet. It requires a certain skill to communicate effectively with brevity.
CONCLUSION: Although the character limit can be daunting, the network is highly populated with potential customers in your niche. You need to consider this when marketing your products or services. The volume of content is high and the speed at which people tweet can be overwhelming. However, it is definitely one platform to consider when planning your social media marketing mix.
What it is/does:
Instagram is an online photo and video-sharing social network service. It is increasingly being used by businesses as a marketing tool. If you take a photograph or record a video on your mobile device, Instagram allows you to instantly pust the content out to other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. It is estimated that 100 million+ photos and videos are shared everyday on Instagram (7/18/19).
Benefits: Some advantages of Instagram for business owners may include:
- More people are using Instagram: Currently there are 25 million+ business users on Instagram (9/6/19). There are 500 million+ daily users on Instagram (9/16/19). With that many available eyeballs and products that a visually appealing, you can reach a vast amount of prospective customers by using a dedicated Instagram strategy.
- Any size of business can thrive: Instagram offers many opportunities for large and small businesses. Even one-man enterprizes can grow with Instagram.
- Make money directly with “shoppable”: posts: Instagram offers a facility to earn through product placement. Shoppable posts allow businesses to add tags to their products in their photos with links that include a product description, price and the ability to “shop now” which leads the user instantaneously to your online store. With 72% of users admitting to purchasing products through Instagram, this platform is hard to ignore.
- Stories make your business relatable: The app’s features allow for creative ways in which to promote your business on a more personal level. Don’t be a faceless company. Interact with your clients and potential customers with live posts and stories.
- You can partner with influencers in your field: Influencers are online celebrities who may be willing to promote a brand or product and take it into the mainstream. This kind of marketing on Instagram can potentially lead to an increased ROI and access to audience demographics that you normally would not reach.
- Hashtags increase visibility: With the clever use of appropriate hashtags you can separate yourself from the crowd. Hashtags are essentially keywords that summarize your post. Be creative.
- Engage effectively on a daily basis: Instagram allows users to like, comment and share. The more likes, comments and shares you get, the more visible your business becomes. Make sure to use high quality photos, use local hashtags and partner with other brands where feasible.
- Mobile apps are king: Unlike Facebook and Twitter that started off as browser-based sites, Instagram was created to be a mobile app from the start. Because it has a cleaner style than Twitter and Facebook engagement on Instagram is reported to be higher than on Facebook. It appears that 90% of time spent on mobile, is spent on apps. Businesses with visually appealing products and services will want to tap into this resource.
- Instagram Insights:
You cannot grow what you cannot measure. Instagram insights provide real-time metrics on how your followers are interacting with your post and stories. Instagram insights provide detailed demographics of your followers’ gender, age range, locations and online times (hours and days). This is great if you are trying to determine who your best audience is. These insights provide you information you need to accurately create your buyer personas.
- Five Promoted Post formats: These include photos, videos, carousels, canvas Story ads, and Story ads. All are seamlessly incorporated into feeds and stories for a smooth user experience. Use Instagram insights to promote your brand to your lookalike audience – an audience with similar interests and behaviors as those of your existing customers or competitors. Promoted posts allow you to add a call to action, effectively redirecting your audience to your website or online store.
- Contact Information: Instagram offers the ability to add contact buttons directly onto your profile page. By adding your email, phone number, and location you provide your audience with an easy way to contact you. This is extremely important for any brand that wants to grow their website traffic, leads, sales, and engagement.
Challenges: Although there are many benefits, there are potential downsides to consider:
- Business acounts get less visibility: As with most social media platforms, Instagram was created to connect with friends and family. The platform still prioritizes updates from friends and family over businesses, leaving you with less engagement. Therefore, as a business profile, you’re most likely to get less visibility compared to the visibility on a personal account.
- Less organic reach: Business accounts obtain less organic reach. Instagram thrives on the large amount of revenue generated from promoted post and stories. A business profile indicates to Instagram that you are a target market for promoted posts. Instagram reduces growth and engagement for business accounts in order to benefit from paid advertising.
CONCLUSION: An Instagram Business Profile definitely has more benefits than disadvantages. If have a business profile and find that it is not for you, the best part is that it’s free and you can always switch back to your personal account. Only you can properly weigh the pros and cons.
What it is/does: Pinterest is a social network where people can find inspiration and ideas for their interests and hobbies. Pins can also link back to websites, which is why the platform can be great for driving traffic and sales. When it comes to business, Pins can help people find more information on products they’re looking to buy.
Benefits: Some advantages of Pinterest for business owners may include:
- Syncs with other platforms: Pinterest syncs with many other social media apps you probably already use for marketing. You can also post your Pinterest feed on your website. The more you engage with your target audience on social media the more you potentially drive traffic to your website. Increased traffic has the potential to increase conversions which ultimately can lead to improved ROI.
- Endless inbound link opportunities: Inbound link generation needs to be exercised with caution. The links must be authentic to maintain trust. With Pinterest your links are legitimate and plentiful. Every time you create a Pin, you will notice a link. You and your customers or followers can copy and share that link, spreading awareness of your brand.
- Highly niche-specific: Pinterest is far more niche-specific than other social media platforms. No matter your chosen niche, you can use Pinterest for general or hyper-specific niche marketing.
- Use tags: Find your niche by using tags when pinning.
Challenges: Although there are many benefits, there are potential downsides to consider when using Pinterest for business:
- A reputation for being a hub for bored housewives: It is true that more women than men use Pinterest, but that is not a bad thing unless your target market is predominantly male. This means that you have to work smarter at segmenting your audience according to your marketing needs.
- Spam: Spam is everywhere, also on Pinterest. Ruthless business operators bombard Pinterest with affiliate shopping links which makes it harder for an honest business owner to penetrate the market with information that is valuable, relevant and important. But it is possible to gain the trust and engagement of your customers.
CONCLUSION: Pinterest content seems to have evergreen value. If you create high quality, relevant Pins and optimize your website, you should see results. Pinners are open to your marketing: Two-thirds of the content saved to Pinterest comes from businesses.
What it is/does:
Google+ or G+ is a social network from Google. Many of its features are similar to other popular social networks and micro-blogging platforms.
Benefits: Some advantages of Google+ for business owners may include:
- Follow and comment without moderation: This allows a responsible marketer to gain a foothold on the same platform as big-profile businesses and influencers.
- Easy to follow people in your circle: When setting up your circles in Google+ you define the streams you want to follow. This allows for easy following at the right time.
- Google sparks: Google provides updates through Google sparks. Add your personal spark to your profile and keep yourself relevant in the market place.
- Gain the trust of your clients face to face: Google+ features video conference calling and Google hangouts. This personal interaction with customers can move mountains in the trust department.
- Connect with professionals in the same niche: Find and connect with people in your niche market. Get more work by being known, liked and trusted.
Challenges: Although there are many benefits, there are potential downsides to consider when using Google+ for business:
- Less organic reach: Google+ is not as generous with organic reach as other social platforms.
- It leans towards professional work: Small businesses and startups that have a more informal approach to business, yet need leads and engagement are better off on other networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where the focus is on entertainment and social engagement.
- Lack of privacy: Google+ makes you visible to everyone. Choose wisely.
- Google does not sync with other social media platforms: It is a very competitive platform with very specific advantages to its preferred users. It is not for everyone.
CONCLUSION: This is mainly a platform for authority content influencers. Anybody can use it but, as was mentioned above, small businesses, startups and those who are less tech savvy might be better off with other social media networks.
What it is/does:
LinkedIn is a social media platform geared towards professionals. It enables people to network and to build their professional portfolio online. LinkedIn is used by professionals and newly minted graduates seeking the perfect job.
Benefits: Some advantages of LinkedIn for business owners may include:
- Lead generation: LinkedIn does open the doors for networking and finding potential customers. You can do this by keeping your company page up to date with relevant information. Be a resource for your connections and followers. Position yourself as an expert in your field and people might be inclined to think of you when they need your services.
- Increased exposure: Gain and maintain more customers by having a LinkedIn business page. A business page has the potential to show up when people search for you in Google as well as searches within LinkedIn.
- Higher level of credibility: LinkedIn makes use of the “Recommendations” feature which helps to generate trust amongst clients/prospective customers. By showcasing your abilities, products, and services you increase the chance of getting recommendations from past and present customers. This has the potential of increasing leads and sales.
- Success indicators: Show off your awards and achievements. This is valuable for those checking your profile to get a good idea of who you are and what you are capable of.
- Filtered search results: LinkedIn offers a thorough selection of search options. This allows you to effectively target the demographics of your chosen market.
- Quality business connections: LinkedIn is populated almost entirely by forward-thinking professionals who are also looking to grow their businesses. This unique culture can make it easier to do business.
Challenges: Although there are many benefits, there are potential downsides to consider when using LinkedIn for business:
- Certain professions may not be able to advertise on LinkedIn due to ethical constraints. But this would be equally applicable to other social media platforms.
- Low-rated user experience: Not everybody raves about their user experience. Platforms that are difficult or frustrating to use don’t get used that much.
- Slow reaction time for support: Complaints have been made in the past that LinkedIn is slow to respond when support is required.
- LinkedIn owns your personal data and information: This is a biggie. LinkedIn supports itself through advertisements. LinkedIn allows its advertisers to target users through the data it collects through user’s profiles. Most people are not comfortable with their professional information being sold to advertisers.
- LinkedIn decides who reads your posts: Their built-in algorithms limit shared content based on user interest and engagement levels. This limits organic reach but enables LinkedIn to generate income through LinkedIn Ads which are sponsored posts.
- Scams and Phishing on the increase: Limited moderation by LinkedIn can lead to increased exposure to scams and phishing by users. Beware.
- Time consuming: Building a professional presence on any social network is time consuming, as is with LinkedIn. You cannot play the short-game on LinkedIn. You need to be patient and consistent to get results.
- A steep learning curve: You need to spend a reasonable amount of time learning the ins-and-outs of LinkedIn to become an adept user. Make sure the time spent is worth it.
- It exposes your identity: As with Google+ privacy is a concern on LinkedIn. To fully embrace LinkedIn, the user needs to disclose a lot of personal and professional information. The less personal information you share, the less you benefit on this platform. Should the database of LinkedIn ever be hacked, you could be exposed to identity theft.
- Cross pollination of the good and the bad: LinkedIn has a high domain authority in search results so if you have been unscrupulous or careless when communicating on other platforms, your indiscretions may show up on Linked in. The rule of thumb is to protect your reputation by posting with integrity and respect on every social platform.
- Premium accounts are expensive: If you want the ability to get detailed insights into the strength of the other profiles on LinkedIn and visitors to your profile you need to pay. The In-Mail service is also a paid-for service.
- Lower engagement: Engagement on LinkedIn is not as prolific as platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Choose your platform to best suit your needs.
- Endorsements cannot be verified: Professionals benefit from endorsements but LinkedIn has no way to verify those endorsements. Caution is required.
CONCLUSION: Like most social media platforms, especially those discussed here, the benefits do outweigh the challenges. However, LinkedIn is definitely for professionals and job seekers. If you do want to get value from this platform you need to invest more time and energy than with some of the more user-friendly platforms. Consistently contribute authority content, comment timeously, engage regularly to gain more visibility, write blog posts and keep your profile up to date.
What it is/does:
Snapchat is all about instant communication through your mobile phone. Snapchat was initially focused on private, person-to-person photo sharing, but you can now use it for a range of different tasks, including sending short videos, live video chatting, messaging, creating caricature-like avatars. It is a social media app that allows you to take or upload a picture or short video, add a caption and share it with your network. Viewers can see the post and then it disappears after 24 hours.
Benefits: Some advantages of Snapchat for business owners may include:
- The app for millenials: Studies have claimed that the bulk of Snapchat users are millennials. If these are your target market, you might well invest some time using this platform.
- Works best in tandem: In terms of social networking, it offers good ROI if used in tandem with an overarching social media marketing plan.
- Real-time connection with consumers: You can create engaging stories to share with your audience and tailor them to deliver a more casual message than you would on other social media platforms. Customers can interact on a real-time, personal level, creating a unique experience when compared to other social media platforms.
- A new way to run contests/giveaways and build e-mail lists:
Contests and giveaways have long been a way companies seek to leverage social media platforms to get new customers and build e-mail lists. Snapchat allows its users to create a uniquely personal way to interact with contestants. This can increase engagement.
- Too many and too frequent updates: Snapchat updates so often that it’s a waste of time to write a lengthy step-by-step instruction manual on how to operate the app.
- Currently, not many competitors: Although there are a lot of Snapchat users, not many people use it for business. This means that if this platform appeals to you, you can take chances without worrying about competition with other businesses (for now).
Marketing can quickly become annoying once someone’s threshold for posts is reached. If you’re not careful and post too often, your message likely to be tuned out and your future content disregarded.
Snapchat is far more complicated than it should be: Engagement is everything in marketing. And nothing crushes your ROI faster than potential customers deciding they have too many hoops to jump through.
- Repeat engagement is difficult: Texting in Snapchat is exhausting.
CONCLUSION: My least favourite social media platform.
What it is/does:
YouTube has been around since 2005. Originally the video hosting site was seen mainly as a source of entertainment. This is changing and, if used correctly, this channel can be integral to your social marketing.
Benefits: Some advantages of YouTube for business owners may include:
- It’s free to use: You can create an account completely free of charge and/or link your Gmail. You can upload or watch as many videos as you like. You can engage freely with other YouTubers by commenting, liking and sharing videos. Beware however to keep your business goals in mind.
- It features measurable analytics: The YouTube view counter gives you a good idea of the success your video is achieving. If your view count exceeds hundred thousand you have a viral video. YouTube analytics allow you some deeper insights such as where your viewers come from, and even in which country your videos are most popular.
- Huge audience and less competition (for now): Millions of people watch YouTube everyday. If you can make a short, yet compelling video about your services or products, you could get new customers. The audience potential on YouTube alone is huge. The spin-off happens when you share your video on other social media platforms as part of your well put together social marketing strategy. This is when the numbers (on all platforms) go up. Not as many companies have delved into video-making, when compared to most other social networking platforms. This means that fewer competitors are vying for your customer’s attention. Big fish, small pond – for now.
Challenges: Although there are benefits, there are potential downsides to consider when using YouTube for business marketing:
- Unprofessional reputation: YouTube still has the stigma of focusing on cat and fail videos. But that is changing.
- Commenting is free-for-all: If your video goes viral your comment section can be hijacked by those who want attention. Comments may also become inappropriate. You need to keep a watchful eye.
- Video marketing can be daunting: However, it is not as steep a learning curve as you might expect. The practice of video marketing can pay dividends . By monetizing your videos, you can increase your ROI.
Some tips to make YouTube worthwhile for business:
- Make high-quality videos with professional equipment and lighting. If you don;t have professional equipment, pay attention to these details.
- Keep your videos short.
- Monitor the comments and respond quickly – within 24 hours.
- Use the YouTube analytics to measure your progress.
CONCLUSION: YouTube can be an extremely valuable tool especially when used judiciously as part of your overall social media marketing strategy.
What it is/does:
Whatsapp is a freeware application that can be installed on mobile phones, tablets and similar devices. It can be used to send text messages, images, documents, user location, audio/video and other media files instantly without any charges as long as participants have the app installed and access to internet.
Benefits: Some advantages of using Whatsapp for business may include:
- It is free, anywhere in the world: One can send text messages, images, documents, user location, audio/video and other media files instantly without any charges anywhere in the world. This saves a lot of money one would otherwise spend on SMS and video-calling.
- It is user-friendly: Even those who are not tech-savvy find it easy to use.
- No advertising: This is probably the best feature of this app. No annoying ads to frustrate your customer.
Challenges: Although there are benefits, there are also potential downsides to consider when using Whatsapp for business:
- Whatsapp runs on smartphone only.
- One needs an internet connection.
- Sharing inappropriate information: Because it is free and can be used by anybody, and, like with any news outlet/social media platform, one must scrutinize the content you share and receive. The best advice is, when communicating with customers to keep it highly professional. Once the message has been sent and received by the other party, it cannot be deleted by the sender.
- Privacy issues: Anyone whose number is on your phone, can see your profile picture. Keep it professional if you plan to communicate with customers.
- Groups: These can become annoying as you might be overwhelmed by people who send irrelevant and too many messages. People can add you to groups without your permission. Beware of who you communicate with, and how, on Whatsapp.
CONCLUSION: The advantages of Whatsapp’s instant and free messaging do outweigh the pitfalls. It is wise to backup all important communication to clients with e-mails. Refrain from overstepping the boundaries of professionalism on Whatsapp when communicating with clients.
social media in general
I like to tell the story I heard from Alan Dibb, on marketing:
The circus comes to town. You know this because you’ve seen the poster on the shop window. That’s advertising. The circus also advertises that on the coming Saturday there will be a carnival organized by the circus. Come see the elephants, the jugglers on stilts. Get free sweets, balloons and other exciting surprises. That’s promotion. So, you take the kids to enjoy the spectacle and happen to have a prime spot outside the mayor’s home. Alas! One of the elephants walks through the mayor’s prize rose garden. That’s publicity. The circus owner is quick to promise to replant the garden and gives the mayor and his family free tickets for every night the circus is in town. That’s public relations. That night, you get to the circus early. The tent is packed. No place even for a camel’s flea! After the show, the stalls have been sold out. That’s sales.
But, herein lies the kicker: the person who planned it all is the marketer!
Yet, social media marketing is only one facet of brand management. For more on this complex necessity in business, visit our brand management page, where we demystify and simplify the process for you.
No business implements every aspect of brand management. The important thing is that you know what brand management entails and that you select the social media networks best suited to growing your business. The sequence and frequency in which you implement them is also important.
The facets overlap, and some are more important than others in any business. Every business is different.
Important: small business should never attempt to manage their brand in the same way big brands do.
Contact us for more on this service we offer our clients.
social media marketing
We will assist you in building an authoritative content marketing strategy for social media. Content is the currency of social media.
To quote David Jenyns: “Authority content is the act of consistently creating and distributing information and stories to gain:
- engagement; and
for a clearly defined audience with the objective of identifying who will benefit from your products and services.”
This is what we do for you.
- You Tube
Companies engage in social media with a wide variety of objectives:
- increase income – there are several ways to do this;
- decrease expenses – there are several ways to lower advertising costs; and
- intangible benefits – like improving customer satisfaction; building a solid reputation; growing the business and others.
The goal is to create a tactical, yet practical execution plan that is aligned with your unique business strategy. This plan is designed as a repeatable step-by-step procedure.
Trying to succeed without us is like digging away at the goldmine your business could be, with a teaspoon.
We thrive on helping you get the best possible results by consistently creating and sharing helpful information.