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Social Media: The 9 Pros And Cons Of Using It For Business
Social media works for business. Or at least that’s what we’re told, right?
I’ll be honest with you – it doesn’t always work. Sometimes social media is a massive distraction and something you could do without.
But, like everything, there are pros and cons to using social media for your business so here’s some ideas to ponder over to help you make the decision whether social media is right for you and your business, or not.
1. Con: Social media takes time
The thing with social media is: done properly, it will take you a heck of a lot of time. It takes time to build an audience. Time to gain some traction. Time to get any sniff of a sale. Time to really see any benefit from all your hard work.
Social media is not an overnight thing and if you’re not careful you could spend a lot of time in the wrong areas and wait and wait for nothing to come along.
1. Pro: Relationships last longer than adverts
But the good news is – relationships that are formed on social media last a lot longer than a click on an ad. When you really do social well you’ll gain a loyal following and fans who really know you and want to be a part of what you and your business have created.
Social media really does build relationships that last. Just this week I’ve sold to someone who’s been following my social for almost 10 years. That’s a long time, but it’s the third time they’ve bought from me, too. Relationships beat ads hands down.
2. Con: Social media wastes your time
There’s no getting away from it. Social media is a real time thief! Social media could take away all your time if you let it. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram… yup, I’m on those all day and wow – where does my time go?!
With social media in your business you need to be really careful – it could destroy your business. At the end of the day social media is a marketing tool for your business and unless you’re an agency like us, you don’t earn directly from it. There are some nifty tricks and tips we use to save time, so shout if you want some help with these.
2. Pro: Opportunities come from the strangest places
Saying that, opportunities can come in the strangest of places, don’t they? I’ve had more business from weird and wonderful threads on social media than ads. It’s just the nature of the beast. You have to let people get to know you or your business before they buy from you.
Know, like, and trust works online too!
May be it’s a case of making sure you set time to go online and check in on conversations, hashtags, Facebook groups and more. I will be after writing this blog. I’ll check my tweets, my Facebook notifications, and maybe pop into a few Facebook groups and join in some relevant conversations. I’ll try not to watch any cat videos while I’m there.
3. Con: Social isn’t free
Don’t let anyone tell you that social media is free.
Social takes a lot of time to master, and then to maintain, and time is your most valuable asset! Time isn’t free; you can’t go and get any more of it. You have to use your time wisely and social is a big drain of that asset.
Social media costs you time, so spend it wisely or you’ll be out of time and bankrupt (until the next day!).
3. Pro: Social is a great tool for small businesses or start-ups
When you’re an SME or a start-up all you have in the beginning is time and effort. Putting your time into creating marketing that will then cost you money might not be the best start to your business. So when you’re cash-strapped, social gives you a way to gain more customers and business.
Social media is ‘free’… if you have the time to spend on it.
4. Con: It’s tricky to find and keep the right tone of voice on social
Social media is an online conversation. That can totally railroad your chances of keeping your company or brand guidelines. Chatting on social media and exchanging gifs and pictures might not be the right thing for your business.
You can come really unstuck online with conversations, discussions and opinion-based arguments. Many BIG businesses have fallen foul of the social sinking sands. We use them as examples in our workshops to get a few cheap laughs!
4. Pro: Being human is a sales winner
But… being human and having a relaxed and friendly voice is beating cold-hearted, corporate tones hand-over-fist online now. People buy from people and although a big cliché it’s true.
There’s never been a better way to show that you’re a human than with social media.
Be you, be yourself, and share what you, your team or your brand are up to and why you do what you do. People buy from us purely because they like what we’re about and why we do what we do.
Just yesterday I got an email that said: “I like you and therefore I want to work with you, somehow….”. This was from someone I only know through Facebook.
Be yourself and you’ll attract more customers. Do it on social and you’ll attract many, many more!
5. Con: You can make a mess of it and ruin your reputation
Social media is live and unfiltered. That’s a powerful tool that you can live or die by. Many companies have fallen on the sword of social by simply not doing what they needed to do at the time. Social is quick and people are fast to respond to stories.
If you’re not there to defend yourself then it can escalate. If you are there and you say the wrong thing, you could totally melt down and rant at your customers like Amy’s Baking Company did. You could damage your business forever.
Be careful what you say on social media. A screenshot will always be there even after you delete a dodgy post.
5. Pro: You can build a great reputation with social
If you take heed of the lesson learnt above from Amy’s Baking and have a system and plan in place for when the proverbial hits the fan, you might actually come out of it better than when you went in.
When/if something terrible happens and social media comes into play, be ready to respond but take the emotion out of it. If you can, let someone like us (removed from the situation and emotion) deal with it for you.
Share great advice, pictures, tips, stories and theme it all around what it is you do. Build a brand, a business and a reputation on social for being the expert that you are.
Be the go-to-company and gain a great reputation. Social can really help you do that when you approach it the right way, with strategy and planning and when you respond well to a complain on social you really can build a great brand. Sainsbury’s are the masters at this!
6. Con: There’s no real ROI for social media
With any advertising or marketing you’ll want to track the ROI (Return On Investment). It’s just a sensible business decision. But social is notoriously hard to track.
Likes, followers, and conversation can lead to more of the same – but what does that mean for your business? How long can you spend on social before you start asking where the business is coming from? And how can you track ‘engagement’ and ‘likes’? Can you prove they turned into sales and cold hard cash?
6. Pro: Not everything has an obvious ROI; social media is the same
Not really a pro, but an answer to the con. Think about many of the things you do in your business that don’t really have an ROI but you still do them anyway like networking or reading a business book or whitepaper.
Think of the things you’ve done in your life that you didn’t measure the ROI on but you did anyway… like learning to drive. Wow, imagine the ROI on driving?!
I feel that social media gets too much of a hard time for the ROI. You should obviously track stuff but stop trying to work out social and get on and do it! Social media is people talking to people and the fact is – everything in this universe started from a thought and then a conversation most likely made it happen.
Get your business on social media and start tracking the conversations and what you learn about yourself and your business, and what your customers learn about you in return – that’s valuable; it just doesn’t have a monetary value associated with it.
7. Con: There are too many channels to choose from
When it comes to social media there are (apparently) over 200 channels! What? Yes, TWO HUNDRED platforms for social media. Even if you take the main ones there are arguably 10-15 to choose from.
So what do you do? You might think you need to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ (lol) Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, YouTube, Tumblr… my word. There’s too much choice and being on them all is exhausting!
7. Pro: The choice is great as you can choose one that suits you
The good news about choice is that you have the chance to pick the right one.
If you’re a florist, you absolutely need to be on Instagram and Pinterest.
If you’re an accountant, you need a good presence on LinkedIn with posts and activity in relevant business groups.
If you’re a public speaker, you need a good YouTube channel and maybe invest time on Facebook Live and Instagram/Snapchat stories.
Pick the one that suits you. Twitter is a great tool for listening, Facebook is great for advertising events and products. Make the right choice… it’ll make or break your social media success. We can help with advice on this if you need it.
8. Con: Social media changes so much, it’s hard to keep up!
Social media never sleeps and the updates keep on coming. Just as you got good at Periscope, Facebook launches Facebook Live and you’re left wondering whether you should ditch Periscope and move to Facebook. And Meerkat is no longer a ‘thing’.
Overnight Instagram (owned by Facebook) added stories (just like Snapchat) and everyone started heralding the death of Snapchat as Instagrammers already had a good following on there.
What do you do? It’s so hard to keep up!
8. Pro: The fast-moving changes give you a great opportunity to really smash it
If you’re able to change and move with the flow and spot opportunity, then social media is a game-changer for you. If you can flip over what you’re doing, make a U-turn and go against your grain then you may well be rewarded… especially if you do it faster than your competition!
Look for the chances to make a big name for yourself on a platform. Can you stake a claim on a new social media site? Can you use the new update on Instagram to engage your potential and existing customers even more?
9. Con: Social media is full of boring people and 99% of it is junk
Social media is just noise, right? You may have found this blog on social media. You’ve done well to find it – it’s so noisy out there. Most of the content on social is pointless chit-chat and nonsense – what’s that gonna do for your business?
Social media is a-wash with rants, memes, gifs, videos, selfies and arguments – what’s the point? How are you going to stand out in that? And why do people keep sharing photos of their breakfast?
9. Pro: This gives you a great chance to shine above the crap and get noticed
Think about it. Why would you add to that? See how you can add value and improve that feed. How can you be different and make some new noise? The chance is there to really make a splash… you just have to work out how.
Social media IS noisy but you have the chance to be found by sticking out.
NB: Be prepared to change and when other brands and competitors copy you though – because they will – be ready to find the next great idea.
So – you’ve read the pros and cons… what will you do?
As I write this I’m sat in my new office that we found on social media whilst flicking around on Facebook.
My Mac is resting on a new desk I saw in a ‘buy and sell’ group on Facebook.
Across the other side of the office is Laura. I met her on Twitter and Jo asked her to work for us. Three years on and she’s still here and an irreplaceable asset to the agency.
I’m off to a networking meeting later that I grew from virtually nothing to the top group of 2016… with Facebook messenger, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Oh… and I met Jo on Twitter. I love her so much and creating and running Spaghetti Agency is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Can I track all those things? Not really. Basically I could say “I’ve earnt every penny in the agency thanks to Twitter” as none of it would’ve happened without it. I could… I just choose not to worry about it like that and keep on keeping on… online!
Social media needs planning and strategy but it also needs guts, energy and time.
Guts to try new things and guts to trust that they’ll work because you know deep down that they will.
Energy to put in so that energy comes out. Everything in the universe is made of energy – make sure you’re adding to that with your updates as it’ll attract people to you.
Time, because it will cost you time. It’s right to question how much time you spend on social but in my mind it’s wrong to question it constantly. You don’t do that for many other things in your life or business, do you?
Social media works, it works over and over again, just choose the right platform, time and ideas and you’ll get a lot back and more!
What do you think? Is social media worth the effort? If you think so, then share a great story about something you got from social media. I’d love to hear it in the comments below…
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