Everyone knows that social media has made a huge impact in our lives, and that includes for businesses. Once you needed a physical store for your business, then you needed a website, now you might not even need that. The reach that social media has provides quick access to large swaths of your target audience. We’ve seen some businesses skip building a website entirely and simply launch on social platforms first. While we’re not sure we would recommend that, after all creating a website has become easier than ever these days, it is valid to consider how much of your business branding and overall growth should come from social.
Social media marketing can be a very useful and potent tool to help grow a business. There are many potential benefits, such as increasing brand awareness, providing the ability to interact with potential clients globally, and the potential to go viral. However, it is important to remember that there are risks involved with advertising on social media as well, namely the potential costs, the time commitment, and going viral, but for all the wrong reasons. In this article we will focus on the potential negatives and try to determine if spending time and money, or how much time and money, is the right move.
The most important aspect to consider with social media marketing is the cost. Yes, it is free to create an account and start posting, but unpaid ads have very little success on these platforms, which makes sense when you consider that they can control the view rates of your posts to encourage you to pay. As this Medium article details, “Facebook organic (free) reach is down to a mere 1–6%.” However, when choosing to “boost” your posts by paying even as little as one dollar, the views and interactions will spike. So if one is hoping to create a few posts on social media and see their customer engagement rise dramatically, then it is important to remember to temper these expectations.
In fact, paid advertising on social media can be quite cost effective. Of course, it depends on the product being advertised, but with over 3.5 billion people in the world connected to social media at all times through their smartphones, it is a great way to reach a multitude of people. There are a few tactics when it comes to paying for social media marketing. One can pay to boost just a few ads, spend on a full social media marketing campaign, or even hire a digital marketing team to take care of the whole project. The costs of each of the options will obviously vary in cost, and as mentioned before, the product being advertised does have an effect as well, as some target markets cost more to reach than others. That is why it is imperative to do the research to find out exactly what kind of social media marketing is right for you and your product before diving right in.
Time is Money and Affects Your ROI
This brings us to the next aspect to consider regarding social media marketing, and that is the time commitment. It’s like training for sports, the more time and effort you put in, the more you will get out. Social media isn’t a one and done type of marketing method. One must constantly create and post new content, monitor trends and engage with the audience on these platforms. Additionally, when companies invest in marketing strategies in general, they want to see immediate results. They want to know that the strategies are working and that there will in fact be a relevant return on their investment. However, with social media marketing results, success is determined by the campaign’s overall success, not by each individual post. So patience is required when it comes to social media marketing, as the results are not immediate, which can be a huge turn off for some companies.
This makes it even more difficult to judge one of the hardest things to evaluate regarding social media marketing, the return on investment (ROI). It depends on when you consider your returns. If expecting a huge jump in engagement midway through an ad campaign, then the previous paragraph explains perfectly the dangers there. And not just that, but the ROPI itself is hard to measure. As this infographic shows, “a report from Social Media Examiner revealed that only 41% of marketers are able to measure the ROI of their social media activities.” So even if sales have generally increased since starting that social media campaign, it’s very hard to judge just how much of that is due to social media, and how much is due to the other channels being deployed. Maybe spending half as much would have produced the same results. Or twice as much.
After considering all of these points, it is time to decide if marketing your business or product on social media is right for you. Of course, every business is different, so there is no right answer which will be universal across the board. It is important to do the research and know your product. If your product is not fully developed yet, then the big money that a full social media marketing campaign would cost could probably be put to better use improving what you are trying to sell on these ads. If you have a beautiful product that has gotten glowing reviews from all your current customers, then spending the time and even a little money on a few Facebook posts or even a full ad campaign could really help grow your clientele and increase sales. Either way, unless you plan on posting something clearly insensitive or bigoted, doing a little free advertising on social media is a pretty harmless way to try and get your product out there.