Social Media is a “two way web”, where the input and the output, both are shared by the writer and the reader. It means media that is designed to be shared socially. There are several forms of Social Media like blogs, photo sharing, video sharing, podcasts, forums, rating and reviews as well as Social Networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are millions of active users, hundreds of millions of conversations going on, hours of videos being uploaded; millions of tweets and thousands of blogs….the social media is going through a big bang where it is expanding immensely. The marketing opportunities through this Social Media are endless.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social Media has changed the face of business by introducing a market which is based on trust. The Companies have realised that they need the people as much as the people need them. So they work hard to remain in good books of the people. The result is “trust based marketing” where the websites contain unfiltered customer testimonials. Hence the website is a Community Resource and not merely a place where the company can brag about its product. The customer feedback is precious as it helps to build better products and services faster. As the trust between the Corporate and Community will increase, the Social Media Marketing will prove to show its worth in terms of vast revenue generation.

Need for Social Media Marketing

In the competitive market of today, businesses are trying their best to target their customer, differentiate themselves from the competition, connect and engage potential customers, get their brands recognized and sell their products and services.  But the customer is fed up of the corporate websites and their one sided talk. They don’t want to see a stranger raving about the perfect product or the charity work done by these corporate houses. The customer demands real reviews from real customers irrespective of whether they are good or bad. Only then they will be able to trust the Company. Thus there is a need for Social Media Marketing which is open to all and displays negative and positive contents.

Advantages of Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing proves crucial for strengthening and promoting your brand. The benefits are discussed in detail below:

  • The most important benefit is the extremely low cost and effort to set up Social Media Marketing through Social Networks and/or blogs. Social Media is much cheaper as compared to conventional marketing methods through ads on TV or expensive marketing drives.
  • It is a very transparent and authentic system of marketing since it is maintained by the customer. It ensures that the right information is sent to the right people.
  • It is very easy to maintain Social Media Marketing venues as there is no need of any updating from time to time as it is being updated automatically in real time by the customers.
  • The reach of the company widens as they are able to reach a diverse people through Social Media by including Twitter and Facebook addresses in ads, brochures and blogging/tweeting about new products.
  • The customer feedback can be utilised positively by the Company. Better products are available through this two way communication. Moreover the customer reaction can be tested prior to introducing any change in the products or services.
  • The Company can establish a true, credible voice in the market by giving a human face to it. It will enhance customer loyalty which will in turn transform customers into sales force.
  • The company can internally create a mentorship blog that will allow experienced professional to share their expertise with the newer recruits.
  • Talent can be hired and his / her background verified using social media marketing and social media. The job search website blogs and networks (like LinkedIn) help the employee as well as the employer. Thus the Social Media Marketing will also result in better quality of workers as the Company can review the Social Media profiles of new recruits.
  • New business opportunities can be found through the trending topics in Twitter. Also Customer Feedback might come handy for improvements in the existing product or introduction of newer ones.
  • Faster information and faster time to market change the time period of analysis from a monthly cycle to an immediate one which improves the value of information and the value of the business decisions that are made.
  • Using Social Media tools improves audience engagement because there is an opportunity for discussion. Moreover information is provided to the customers through the medium they prefer.
  • Customer Service becomes much better through easy interaction between customer-company and customer-customer through blogs and forums. Videos and podcasts enable easy understanding of products for customers.
  • Consumer product ratings help the company to monitor their products as well as the supplier, thus assuring quality of the product.

Issues with Social Media Marketing

Social Media lets you go wide, but you have to make it go deep. The greatest problem with Social Media is that you cannot control it. Even if you do everything to mitigate the risk, there is no guarantee that your problem will be solved. The major issues with Social Media Marketing are mentioned below:

  • The Social Media is all about conversation, hence your brand may get tarnished or pulled in a wrong direction in front of your eyes and you can do nothing about it. It can be very damaging and expensive to have the brand blemished by third parties in Social Media.
  • Although negative comments from the people are a major problem, there can be many other situations where your brand can be at risk. Even after the product has been released after responding to the customer feedback and correcting the defects, the earlier product reviews that rated your product as poor, will still stand. People will read those old reviews and might take decisions governed by them.
  • The customers are actively letting the world know about their poor experience. Some users write stupid things out of ignorance while the others write vindictive, untrue and hurtful comments just to cause trouble and harm to the company. A lot of time of the company is spent trying to address these negative comments.
  • We all are aware how easy it is for someone to create an anonymous email address with your personal or company name. Some might even go ahead to create a fake website with a slight name variation from the original one. It is incredible simple for someone to create an identity on Social Media sites and then claim it is you. This is known as Personal or Organisational Identity theft. It might affect your customer relations and provide false information.
  • Time is a very important factor for every business. It might be that your Social Media site becomes more popular than you had expected. Hence there will be millions of page views and user comments for which you were unprepared. To address all queries on the site, you may have to commit far more resources and time than what you can manage. Since profitability is measured not by page views but by sales and expenses, it might be that Social Media causes more loss than profit.
  • There is a possibility that you spend a lot of time and resources to build your Social Media presence but no one shows on these sites. This situation is called a Ghost Town. Without an extensive marketing campaign, the Social Media cannot be a success. Statistics show that 50% of the blogs are abandoned within 90 days because of low page visits.
  • The Social Media is getting cheaper and better with each passing day. You may enter the Social Media world and have an early-mover advantage but your competitors who turn up later may use a cheaper and better way to make their presence felt on the Social Media. Thus Social Media Marketing methods need to be upgraded frequently to match the technological developments.
  • It is very hard to measure profit through Social Media Marketing. Your brand may become popular on the Internet, but there is no surety of increase in sales. Even if sales increases, it will be difficult to comment whether the increase is due to Social Media Marketing or not.

Social Media Statistics

The numbers regarding the Social media are staggering. Facebook currently has 901 million active users worldwide, spending almost 8 hours per month on Facebook on an average.  Twitter has 140 million active users, sending 340 million tweets every day. YouTube receives 106.7 million unique visitors every month and there are almost 4 billion views per day on YouTube. These stats are mind blowing and invite the marketers to make use of the Social Media. Amongst the Fortune 500 companies of the world, 65% have an active twitter profile, 58% have an active Facebook account and 23% have a public facing corporate blog.

Regarding Social Media Commerce, 40% Twitter users search products via Twitter on a regular basis and 12% purchase a product online based upon the information via Twitter. For Social Media Marketing, the marketers give first preference to Facebook, followed by twitter, LinkedIn and blogs. Although marketers are fully exploiting the Social Media, but only 10% are actively monitoring it.