Nobody must question the God that is social media marketing. It offers any business a free and easy way to generate sales with no effort whatsoever. All other forms of marketing are rendered completely obsolete in the face of this amazing new platform which will come to dominate the marketing strategies of any company that hopes to stay relevant. Or at least that’s the impression that you’ll get if you read advice on the best marketing strategies. But is that really true?
I’m not trying to suggest that social media marketing isn’t valuable. It’s allowed companies to expand their reach to millions of people all around the world and interact directly with customers in real time. Marketing, in general, is more personal which is a positive because consumers respond to it better. You can also reach potential customers regardless of where they are because the majority of your target audience can access it from their phones at all times. Obviously, all of that has its benefits and every company should be using it as part of their marketing strategy. The important thing to remember though is that other forms of marketing are still valuable and you shouldn’t be putting all of your money into social media and neglecting anything else. While you might not believe it, social media marketing does have its downsides. Don’t believe me? Have you considered these things?
It’s Easily Ignored
How many people do you follow on Twitter? I’m guessing it’s at least 100 and that’s a low estimate. For some people, it’s well into the thousands. The average number is 707. That’s a lot of people that are constantly posting interesting things all day long. When you log in and start scrolling, are you going to be reading the news, enjoying jokes or updates from friends, or are you going to be desperately seeking out marketing materials? I’m guessing the former. While people will still see your marketing efforts and some will take notice, there is a huge amount of information and content that you’re competing with. You’ll have to do something pretty special if you want to catch somebody’s attention and get them to stop scrolling. That is possible if you use valuable content and include a lot of images and videos but you’re still fighting an uphill battle against the sheer amount of stuff that people are posting. However, more traditional forms of marketing that are directed at specific customers are often harder to ignore. The best email marketing software can help to identify good potential customers and send emails directly to them. While it’s true that people still ignore marketing emails, they’re more likely to take notice of it than they would if that same material was surrounded by thousands of other social media posts.
It’s Not As Cheap As You Think
This is one of the major things people point to when championing social media marketing but it’s not quite true. I can’t dispute that posting on social media is free and costs less than say, putting up a billboard, but it’s not as simple as that. Making good posts that actually see a return is difficult and requires the expertise of a social media manager who knows what they’re doing. That’s a job that is in high demand at the moment so if you want the best candidates, you’ll have to pay a salary to reflect that. Beyond that, there is the cost of the content of the posts. In order to get good engagement on those posts, you need to offer good quality content that you’ll have to pay somebody to write for you in most cases.
On top of that, if you really want to reach a lot of people, you might have to start using sponsored posts which, again, cost money. All of those costs add up and if you want to do it right, social media marketing isn’t actually that much cheaper than traditional forms of marketing.
You Alienate People
This isn’t a huge problem if you’re in an industry that sells to primarily young customers because most of them will be on social media. However, if you’re selling a product that appeals to everybody, you’re alienating a huge chunk of your target market when you focus solely on social media. The older generation is less likely to have social media or to use it as regularly and if that’s the only way they can find out about your products, they’ll never even know you exist. Granted, this is only going to be an issue for another generation or so because the number of older people using social media is going up. But right now, it’s a problem.
It’s All Public
Imagine you sell a product to a customer and they absolutely hate it, they haven’t got a good word to say about your company. Before social media, they would tell their friends and family. That information might get passed on a bit and you’d maybe have 20 or so people that were put off buying your product. On social media, millions of people can see that negative comment and you can’t take them down either. Obviously, that publicity is a benefit if they’re saying good things about you but even a couple of negative reviews can put a customer off, regardless of how many positive ones there are. It’s also going to be on there indefinitely so people can always scroll back through and see every negative comment that’s ever been made about you.
This article is not here to try to convince you to stop using social media marketing. It’s an amazing tool that extends your reach and allows you to create innovative and exciting marketing materials, as well as giving you more direct contact with your customers. However, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the downfalls of social media marketing and stop treating it like it’s an easy fix to all of our business problems. It still takes a lot of investment, financially and otherwise, and in some cases, alternative marketing methods are still better.