Social Media Advantages and Disadvantages in Business
By Nicole Wiegand
Social media has become the new frontier for businesses to implement their marketing strategies. With a low barrier to entry and multiple platforms to utilize, social media offers unparalleled opportunities for companies to reach customers and establish brand awareness. However, using these platforms to their full potential isn't always easy and carries a unique set of risks.
Types of Social Media
Facebook is frequently cited as the ideal first stop for businesses establishing a social-media presence. Facebook's enormous network, combined with its flexibility and simplicity of use, make it a good fit for most businesses. Google+ has gained traction in the social-media world and offers unique benefits: businesses with a Google+ presence enjoy increasingly favorable rankings in Google's search results as Google works to integrate the network throughout its products, and the platform's somewhat smaller size can create more intimate, tailored conversations with customers.
Twitter can be a useful platform for companies with a steady flow of news flashes or links to share with followers. For businesses with a regular stream of image and short video content, Instagram -- now owned by Facebook -- enables a visual style of storytelling and boasts a huge audience of users.
Outside of these behemoths of social media, other platforms can offer marketing opportunities for the right type of businesses. Pinterest has a steadily growing, predominantly female user base for its visual, "scrapbooking"-style content; LinkedIn is popular among freelancers as a networking tool to find clients.
Social-media marketing is an excellent way for businesses to broaden their exposure to the public at a much lower cost than traditional marketing. Establishing a presence on widely used platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can help target new customers and make your brand more visible. Additionally, the two-way communication facilitated by social media can improve customer service and enables businesses to gain new information about their customers and tailor communications based on that knowledge.
While social media can be a powerful marketing tool, it's not entirely risk-free. Fans and followers are free to post their comments on these platforms, exposing your business to the possibility of negative publicity. A quick response can help minimize the damage from these comments, but it can't erase the criticism from your business's page or feed.
Hackers pose another threat to businesses on social media: an attacker can take over a company's page or feed and share false information that can quickly go viral. Even large, respected businesses have fallen victim to hackers; small businesses need to take security precautions when creating passwords and sharing password information with employees.
A business can easily set up a presence on multiple social media channels; however, none of these platforms will help them gain customers without an investment of time and effort. An unattended Facebook page or Twitter feed can leave a negative impression on potential customers and cause your business to lose fans and followers. Businesses should consider their resources before developing a social media marketing strategy to ensure that they can provide the attention and frequent communication needed to embrace social media effectively.
Nicole Wiegand is a writer living in the New York City area. With degrees in computer science and professional experience as a computer programmer, she specializes in topics relating to technology and the internet. She's appeared on two game shows in her life, but never won a thing!