Disadvantages of Advertising With Social Media

By Tracey Sandilands

Social media advertising requires someone with specific knowledge and creative writing skills.
i Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

With social media use currently a strong trend in advertising, few enthusiasts are willing to entertain the idea that disadvantages exist. Studies such as the Forrester Report “The Facebook Factor” show that not only does the use of this social media platform carry several risks, but it’s also difficult to gauge the true value of Facebook advertising. Add this to the nuisance aspect of having to keep pace with changes in technology, as well as monitoring and responding daily to user comments, and many cash-strapped business owners feel it’s not worth their while to use social media.

Business Risks

As a business advertising with social media, you accept risks such as handing over a part of your brand’s management and reputation to employees and customers. If anyone from these groups feels they have been unfairly treated, they can use the social media profiles to air their grievances with your company in public. This can cause a loss of credibility for your brand. In addition, consumers can post negative comments on your social media profiles that can damage your prospects with new clients. If you remove the comments, however, users might believe you are covering up something.

Legal Risks

Social media also opens your company to legal risks, such as those associated with false advertising or the potential leaking of confidential information on the networks. In 2011, an Australian court fined a company for comments about its products on its Facebook page, which it ruled to be misleading. The comments were posted by outside parties, however, not company members, but the company didn’t remove or refute them and was found guilty of misleading consumers.

Multiple Platforms

So many social media platforms exist that it’s difficult for a business owner to know where to start. If you select the wrong one, it could affect your success. The dominant sites are Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Pinterest, but users can choose among more than 100. Each of the sites requires a different method of posting and type of content, and all the platforms change their tools and systems regularly. Each platform appeals to a different market segment, so you might need to use several platforms to effectively reach your target audience.

Hidden Costs

While the use of social media platforms is free, this form of advertising has several hidden costs associated with it. To use social media effectively, businesses should post updates regularly on their chosen platforms. This requires employing a person with comprehensive knowledge of the medium, an ability to write or produce quality content and the time to spend researching, planning and publishing the posts. In addition, users consume text in the form of articles, press releases and blog posts as well as photographs, videos, podcasts and slide shows. Some of these cost money to create; for example, it’s expensive to produce a quality video clip if you have to hire a professional videographer to do it.


Most companies have difficulty measuring the results of social media advertising. Expert opinions differ on the monetary value of a “Like” on Facebook or a follower on Twitter, with neither of these providing real, qualified sales leads. It’s almost impossible to evaluate the success and reach of brand interaction in terms of recommendations to others, or to determine how many of the consumers reached made a purchase, or are likely to do so in the future.