The world of business has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years, especially for small businesses. At one time, it was extremely hard for small businesses to get noticed, as the bigger companies were able to allocate a much larger chunk of money for advertisement. Today, smaller firms (as well as larger ones) are taking advantage of social networks to launch their advertising campaigns. Of course, there are many benefits to that, but there are also some downsides to consider.
Below, I list a few of the advantages and disadvantages that, hopefully, will help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should consider using social networks to advertise your business or products.
- Greater exposure to a broad range of potential clients and customers
Thanks to today’s proliferation of social media, small companies are starting to find themselves on almost equal footing with even the largest enterprises and corporations. The costs involved in running a successful advertising campaign on social media platforms is negligent compared to the costs of television exposure, with possible exposure to hundreds of thousands of potential clients. With newspapers or local television advertising, businesses are usually relegated to only a small population, whereas with a good social media campaign, you can literally reach people all over the world for much less than it would cost to advertise locally.
- Little to no cost for small business startups
While you can set up a Facebook, Twitter or most other social media accounts free, in most cases, you will also want to take advantage of the low-cost advertising available through social media sites. For instance, with Facebook, you can use the promotion tool which allows you to spend a small amount of money (or larger amount depending on how many people you want to reach) and have your business show up on Facebook users pages.
- Greater targeting of potential clients and customers to specific locations or interests
The great thing about promoting your business on Facebook is that the promotional ads can target very specific audiences, such as a local business targeting potential customers in a 50-mile radius or a business specializing in sports equipment targeting those who are into sports. With other types of advertising campaigns, it is very hard to reach specific audiences, so you may end up paying much more than you should, to reach people who may not even be interested in your company or product.
- Greater potential for customer feedback and “word of mouth” (through sharing)
With social networks, your customers can provide immediate feedback on your company or product. Current satisfied customers can also “share” a link to your company’s page, allowing more potential clients or customers to become aware of your business or product. Just a handful of customers talking about your business can in turn land you hundreds or even thousands of leads.
- Higher chances of irrevocable damage to brand image
While gaining exposure to all of those potential clients can be a great thing, there is also the risk of harmful exposure. Social media allows for “word of mouth” advertising, where customers can discuss the good, the bad and the ugly about companies. In other words, if you offer an excellent service and have many satisfied customers or clients, this will come across on your Facebook page or your Twitter feed. If you have customers with bad experiences, however, this can also come across social media and can significantly impact future clients.
- Other competing businesses also using social media
One of the downsides to using social media to launch your business’s advertising campaign is that many other companies employ the same platforms for their advertising needs and you may find the competition rather stiff, and sometimes conflicting, depending on the service or product you are offering. As social media networks become increasingly popular, more businesses are cramming the platforms, making the competition unbearable in many sectors, and requiring more brainstorming and innovation to emerge to prospective customers or clients.
In conclusion, social networking makes it quite easy for a slight misstep to cause irreparable damages to businesses. However, the evolving nature of relation and communication between businesses and consumers, and the many success stories we hear from businesses that actively employ social media platforms not only makes it an enticing option but also makes it an important one.