Do you know the advantages and disadvantages of social media for business?
You need traffic to get visibility.
You need visibility to make sales.
You know billions of people use social media.
In fact, Facebook and Instagram have three billion users on those two sites combined.
According to recent data (Dell Report), over 70% of B2B purchase decision-makers use social media to help them make buying decisions.
Clearly, social media is ideal for small business marketing.
Yet, there are many disadvantages of social media for business.
- Financial cost
- Time cost
- Emotional cost
- Privacy Cost
Is there a better way?
Google has 7 billion searches a day, but there are also advantages and disadvantages of search engine marketing.
I interviewed marketing experts and asked them about the most effective marketing method. Do you know what they picked?
They picked both social media marketing (SMM) and search engine marketing (SEM).
By the time you are done reading this post, you can draw your own conclusions about which is the more effective marketing method for you.
Today’s post will take a point-counterpoint format.
Guest author Angelo will explain why the benefits of social media marketing for small businesses make social media marketing the best type of marketing.
I will explain why I believe search engine marketing is more effective than social media marketing.
Let’s get started learning social media marketing advantages and disadvantages so you can decide which digital marketing strategy is the best for you.
Best Social Media Platforms for Marketing
Most people of today’s generation use social media, discovering new online friends, and trying to keep in touch with the old ones.
Social media also serves as a library of different contents where people are free to exchange opinions, reactions, and recommendations for as long as they comply with the platform’s community rules and guidelines.
Social media also serves as a powerful program various companies can use to spread the word about their brand and products. If a business ignored its potential, it is just missing out on many great opportunities.
For example, if you own a toy company, whether you are a manufacturer, wholesaler, or drop shipper, you would need to build an excellent network to increase your earnings.
If you decide to tap Facebook, Twitter, and other online social media websites, this may be a good time to congratulate yourself because you just made the right decision!
Having these sites around for a while has given us enough time to evaluate them and identify which works best for marketing. We are sharing the best social media channels where you can easily reach out to many target segments to get a higher chance of sales and long-term customers.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
Custom Products Are Currently Booming
But before you go ahead and start advertising on Facebook, pick the best products to market. At this point, you might have a tangible product already.
Whatever your products, you’ll be able to draw attention to them using social media.
Update June 2020:
During the Coronavirus outbreak, marketers changed philosophies to meet the needs of people affected by the pandemic.
For instance, people started making masks for dog lovers and other niches. Also, brands shifted to marketing products needed during the Coronavirus like hand sanitizer.
However, if you’re open to new ideas, why not tap custom products, a niche that can give you stratospheric sales if you nailed social media marketing?
For example, some samples of custom toys include custom toy cars, accessories for kids, and DIY items. You may also go as far as this brilliant product idea from Cheap Bobbleheads. Check out their business HERE.
FB remains as the biggest social network site in the world. Moreover, the results for advertising through Facebook are still satisfactory. Thus, we can say that it retains its spot as the number one community for a wide array of businesses.
Marketing on Facebook is incredibly easy, and you can opt for a zero-cost way. Consistently create content targeting an audience with a particular interest. You can do this for free by joining Facebook groups and sharing your posts without spamming.
You can create content aiming to attract people who expressed curiosity in items and brands relevant to your product. Do this by running a paid promotion ad, and select the appropriate interests for the list provided by Ads Manager.
If you are new to this, you may consider hiring a social media manager or advertiser to do the complicated job for you. But we advise that you should learn the advantages and disadvantages of social media for business soon enough so you can understand its potential and suitability to your business.
Update June 2020:
During the Coronavirus outbreak, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg offered to match anyone dollar for dollar who contributed to the cure and prevention of the Coronavirus up to 10 million dollars.
During the protests that followed the death of African American Floyd George at the hands of police officers, Zuckerberg pledged 10 million dollars to fight racism.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to using Instagram for marketing.
If you have an attractive line up of products, with amazing high-quality images, Instagram might work for your business. With millions of people from all over the world using it every day, there’s no way your business won’t get noticed if you consistently post and utilize this tool correctly.
Instagram allows the posting of images and videos, with enough opportunity for a cool caption and fantastic emojis.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram won’t let you share a link per post unless you’re doing an advertisement. So you can bring traffic to your website for free, all you need to do is optimize your bio and be sure to add your shop’s URL in it.
Instagram allows you to get valuable feedback you need to be an effective marketer for free.
Marketers use both Instagram Stories and Snapchat to market. If I wanted to market and didn’t know which to use, I’d survey my social media followers using a poll like this one.
Based on these results, I’d opt to market using Instagram Stories.
Note: I realize this poll was conducted on Instagram which perhaps biased the results; however, these results give me a starting point for my marketing campaign.
June 2020 Update:
During the protests that followed the death of Floyd George, Instagram added stickers to its collection of Story stickers.
One sticker read “Black Lives Matter.” Another sticker read “Tell Black Stories.”
April 2020 Update:
During the Coronavirus outbreak, Instagram introduced and then extended its collection of Coronavirus stickers. The stickers raise public awareness about the virus and help small businesses affected by the virus.
According to reports, Instagram has plans to release the stickers in different languages.
A booming video content-focused social media network where you can find tons of vloggers trying to earn as much as Pewdiepie, YouTube is also a must-try for businesses. Apart from the chance to meet potential customers, your business may earn money from views and ad clicks.
This monetization is possible through AdSense, which is almost the same way how a blog finds its financial backing. But if this is the least of your interest, YouTube’s potential in helping your company grow is something one should not underestimate.
In June 2020, I realized one of the advantages of social media not mentioned earlier. Social media sites like Twitter offer tools with analytics that make marketing on social media easier for businesses.
For instance, the Buffer app offers me free analytics about my tweets’ retweets and likes.
I also get free Twitter analytics from Commun.it in regular emails.
Note: You can connect Commun.it to other social media sites. I use Commun.it with Twitter.
Other Twitter tools like Tweepi can help you as well boost your ROI. Using analytics, you can see what works for you and repeat those actions at social media sites.
Of course, one of the disadvantages of social media for business is the cost of premium tools which is explained in the next section.
Disadvantages of Social Media for Business
Angelo raised many important points about the advantages of social media marketing. However, there are also disadvantages of social media for business.
Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing tools are expensive.
Ahrefs is costly! The popular tool starts at $99.00 per month for the Lite Version.
Bloggers and startups without an advertising budget might not be able to afford Ahrefs and other expensive tools.
When you use social media sites, you get a poor return on your time invested. This is one of the worst disadvantages of social media for business.
Social media sites are a time-drain.
This is due to their addictive nature.
Smartphones tell people how long they spend on their phones each week just so they can try to break the addiction to social media.
Update May 2020:
As I compose a post about Twitter marketing, many respondents feel LinkedIn is preferable. Trying to market on Twitter, they report, is like spinning your wheels, a waste of time.
Social media sites fold.
For example, one of the highest traffic generators for bloggers, StumbleUpon, folded.
Many bloggers are still mourning the sites’ deaths.
The attention you get on social media is fleeting.
In fact, the lifespan of a tweet on Twitter is short.
People scroll through their Twitter feed at a rapid rate. With only 280 characters, reading a tweet takes mere seconds.
Social media users are fickle.
In fact, so many people unfollow without cause on social media, I published a guide explaining how you can know who unfollowed you on social media sites and what you can do about the unfollows.
Did you know one of the reasons Instagram cited for banning likes relates to the emotional toll not receiving likes takes on its users?
Facebook was accused of data breaches more than once.
One of the reasons Google+ folded is the fallout from the scandal that ensued when Google+ was also accused of violating its users’ privacy.
The social media site MeWe started as a reaction to these privacy breaches. MeWe guarantees its users it will never sell their data. In fact, MeWe’s tag line is #Not4Sale.
According to the Engadget blog, Facebook actually admits it downloads your data but will let you see the data it downloads.
More disadvantages of social media for business:
November 2, 2020 Update
There has been such toxicity regarding the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, many people are avoiding social media. Naturally, this makes marketing on social difficult for businesses. This is one of the disadvantages of social media for business that should dissipate after the 2020 Presidential Election is over.
November 13, 2020 Update
In contrast to the previous entry, ten days passed since the U.S. Presidential Election.
Social media sites such as Facebook have been adversely affected. Facebook groups that favored President Trump are leaving Facebook and going to social media sites like MeWe and Parler.
Who knew politics could be one of the disadvantages of social media for business.
September 2020 Update
Concerned that social media sites prioritize posting hateful content in order to make a profit, big brands like Kim Kardashian and other celebrity accounts are freezing their social media posting (Source).
May 2020 Update 1
Due to the Coronavirus shelter-in-place restrictions, people are finding it impossible to shop at brick and mortar shops.
Last week Facebook announced new ways to help product sellers make sales directly from Facebook, including Facebook Shops, with Instagram Shops soon to follow.
The Coronavirus is giving social media users a new perspective. According to Medium’s Phillip Stutts, social media has deteriorated into people bragging about their lives.
Due to the Coronavirus fears, people don’t care about materialism as much as they used to. Stutts predicts this change in values will continue and social media won’t be used the same way going forward for this reason.
I have listed this as an emotional cost. Do you consider this change a loss or a gain?
May 2020 Update 2
If you are successful, really successful, you come to the attention of the U.S. government.
This can work for you or against you:
For instance, while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg seems to make decisions that support the Republican platform, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is making decisions that run counter to what U.S. President Donald Trump wants.
For Jack Dorsey and the Twitter team, coming to the attention of the president in a negative way is definitely one of the disadvantages of social media for business.
I read Dorsey has been spending many late nights in his California home due to this situation.
Disadvantages of Social Media for Business: FAQ
Social media has the potential to be time-consuming, costly, emotionally damaging, and dangerous to your privacy.
Social media can be lucrative for marketers and help users find like-minded thinkers and content creators.
Since social media sites like Twitter are refusing political ads, political organizations should stay away from sites that frown on political advertising. Even Quora seems to be frowning on political content. Facebook, however, still accepts political advertising.
Have you heard of “Plandemic?” People are posting misinformation on social media sites. In other words, they are posting myths about how to avoid the Coronavirus. These myths include going into crowds and avoiding masks.
Those responsible are disseminating these myths about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to warding off the Coronavirus through videos.
Apparently, Facebook, one of the sites affected, tries to take down the bogus videos, but Plandemic perpetrators put them back up as fast as Facebook and other sites take them down.
The Coronavirus is affecting different businesses in various ways. For example, Google and Facebook seem to be thriving as far as user growth while businesses deemed “non-essential” are forced to close.
Local businesses like restaurants and beauty parlors are taking huge losses. I spoke with a salon owner who expressed no provisions were made for owners of small businesses before the lockdown began.
Social media marketing is considered an effective way for businesses to market.
However, so many new social media sites are springing up, this may impact businesses.
For example, the new social media sites MeWe already boasts two million users. Are you going to ignore that market? In case you want to consider including MeWe in your social media marketing, here is a MeWe review.
Huddol is a new social media site that allows you to market your relevant products and services inside the site. Huddol has a marketplace. If you are interested in selling your relevant products and services at the Huddol Marketplace, here is a Huddol review.
Is the addition of new social media sites one of the disadvantages of social media for business? Why would they be?
How thin are you going to spread your marketing efforts? Will you dilute your message?
You would be making a mistake to try to use the same message on different social media sites.
For example, the graphic size varies from site to site.
Will you hire new staff to keep up with the growing number of sites you might want to include in your marketing strategies?
During the scare of the Coronavirus pandemic, people are reading rumors that have no basis in reality.
The shocking truth: Celebrities among others are reported to be spreading misinformation.
Celebrities have the power to influence. For this reason, when they share information, people listen.
These myths further perpetuate the fear of the virus. The power of social media to spread misinformation is definitely one of the disadvantages of social media for business.
However, sites like Facebook and Reddit are helping to spread facts and offer resources to help people during this time of panic.
For instance, Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is offering a dollar for dollar match of up to 10 million dollars to help fight the Coronavirus.
This should go a long way in restoring the goodwill Facebook lost during the data-breach scandals of 2018 and beyond. An action of the magnitude can only raise Facebook’s esteem in the court of public opinion as it would for any business, Facebook or otherwise.
Reddit is also offering information and resources.
Both Facebook and Reddit users see these resources are just a click of a button away as soon as they log into their accounts.
Wrapping Up: Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media for Business
In closing, this post presented the advantages and disadvantages of social media in business.
Angelo presented four advantages while I presented four disadvantages of social media for business.
Clearly, bloggers and marketers need to promote on social media. Your audience is definitely there.
However, due to the disadvantages of social media for business I described, I believe the disadvantages of social media for business outweigh the advantages.
What do you think? Which is the better marketing strategy– social media marketing or search engine marketing?
I asked my Instagram followers and Instagrammers who follow the #marketingdigital hashtag to choose the most effective form of marketing, search engine marketing or social media marketing.
Here is how they responded:
All the Instagrammers polled agreed with me that Search Engine Marketing is the more effective type of marketing between the two.
What is your opinion? I look forward to your views in the comments section.
Also, do you know any social media marketing disadvantages? People are searching for 10 disadvantages of social media for business. If you can add your suggestions, we can get this post to offer the Top 10 advantages and disadvantages of social media for business.
In addition, do you have an opinion on the disadvantages of social media advertising? What are the advantages and disadvantages of social media advertising?
Have you used social media advertising? Is it worth the money?
Now you know the advantages and disadvantages of social media marketing.
Readers, please share, so other bloggers and marketers learn the advantages and disadvantages of social media for business.
Authors: Janice Wald and Angelo C.
This post was made possible by the support of our readers.
If you need more help with your marketing campaigns, contact the Houston Digital Marketing Agency.