Social media marketing: what you need to know

The 21st century has opened up a plethora of new marketing avenues and opportunities for ambitious UK businesses to explore, none more convenient and adaptable than the world of social media.

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have taken the world by storm and offer lucrative opportunities for companies here in the UK and abroad, but they often represent something of a double-edged sword, too.

If you wish to make the most of the world of social media marketing, it makes sense to understand a little more about it. Take a look at the pros and cons of this modern approach to marketing here, and see how your business can benefit in future.

The pros

  • It’s free – As you’ll no doubt be aware, it’s free to set up a social media account, and your marketing activities via these means needn’t cost very much whatsoever. While sites like Facebook and now, Twitter, will charge you for advertising directly on their networks, certain types of marketing, like content marketing for instance, won’t cost you a penny.
  • It’s popular – Never before have marketers been able to reach so many people at once at such a low initial cost. Millions of people worldwide have social media accounts, so your marketing activities can be more far-reaching than ever if you take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media marketing.
  • It’s interactive – Unlike the overwhelming majority of marketing outlets, social media marketing is interactive. As a result, you can obtain valuable information from your customers without the difficulty and expense involved in auditing your marketing activities, as people won’t hesitate to share their thoughts and opinions with you online.

The cons

  • It’s difficult – Successfully marketing your brands, products and services via social media isn’t easy, and because it’s free, you’ll be confronted with unprecedented levels of competition. Online audiences are more discerning than their traditional media counterparts, so your marketing activities need to be of a higher quality if they’re going to get noticed online.
  • It’s dangerous – The problem with an interactive form of marketing is that customers won’t hesitate to make their opinions clear if they think you’ve made a mistake or done something stupid. A social media marketing exercise can backfire spectacularly if you’re not careful, as many big companies have discovered to their cost.
  • It’s hit-and-miss – The promise of a social media marketing campaign going ‘viral’ is enough to whet the appetite of any would-be marketer, but the truth is, few attempts ever achieve that level of popularity. It’s far more likely that your brand’s marketing activities will simply slip beneath the radar, lost in sea of similar competition.

Social media marketing can be extremely rewarding, but it isn’t easy to perfect.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.