The Pros and Cons of Social Media
If someone has chosen to follow you, they are probably already a committed customer – which is a good thing.
There’s no question that social media is transforming our lives. It has become a primary source of daily news, politics and entertainment. It’s also the way many people stay in touch with family, friends, and even strangers who share common views or interests.
But is social media the right tool when it comes to marketing your local business?
The answer is complicated. Here are some things to consider before you dive in.
It’s a long haul, and it’s no free ride
Unlike print advertising where repetition can be a virtue, reinforcing a consistent brand image over time, social media is driven by novelty – the constant refreshment of content and message. For example, the average lifespan of a tweet is estimated to be about 18 minutes.
It takes time (lots of it), agility and money to produce the high quality information necessary to grab attention in the noisy social media universe. And it can take months or years to grow the critical mass of followers you need – usually in the thousands, because only a fraction of them will click on any given post.
It’s hard to control the message
Social media is a great way to gather positive comments – as well as negative ones. Anything you post is open to criticism and trolls, so unless you’re monitoring your feeds daily, a negative comment can sit there, or worse, be shared, undermining your business before you even know about it.
While it’s easy to respond to positive comments, negative ones are likely to blindside you, requiring emergency attention to offset the damage. You can find lots of useful advice online about how to deal with negative comments – but the strategy you choose needs to be tailored to the particular comment, so figuring out the best response can be an unexpected time sink.
One more reason to check your feeds daily is that if a customer sends you a query and you fail to respond promptly – as promptly as you would a phone call or email, you risk turning off your customer’s enthusiasm.
You’re preaching to the converted
If someone has chosen to follow you, they are probably already a committed customer – which is a good thing. Social media is a valuable way to stay in touch with your loyal base. But until you have thousands of followers who are keen to share your latest exciting message, it is not a good tool for developing new business.
Not sure about that? Ask yourself how many local businesses (apart from those with whom you have an established relationship) you have the time or inclination to follow in your own busy life – let alone whose posts you are willing to share.
Chances are, if you’re not a high school student glued to Snapchat and Tik Tok, once you’ve checked your news feeds and the posts from a friend or two, you’re already deep in social media fatigue by the time you’ve finished your morning coffee.
The landscape keeps changing
As the number of social media platforms grows, and with the average user subscribing to two or more, it’s hard to know where to put your resources. You probably need to be on at least three platforms to cover your audience. Current faves are Facebook (though its numbers are falling), Instagram (a visual medium that needs great images and thoughtful curating), and Twitter (which can be good for conversations, but tricky if you wade into a spicy debate with followers/customers). Others, such as the video-based Tik Tok, may mature into business platforms soon.
What’s more, the owners of these platforms continually tweak the background algorithms to meet their own business goals – including funnelling business owners toward spending money to boost posts or advertise directly on their channels. With the click of a button, they can also suppress certain kinds of posts and favour others. It’s a lot to stay ahead of!
So how does social media compare with print in your marketing mix?
If you understand its limitations, social media can play a useful role in your overall marketing strategy. Here at In The Hills, we use it as an important tool to engage with our readers between issues.
But we also know that it’s the quality of the print magazine, not our 140-character tweets, that has inspired the loyalty and devotion of the community we serve. And we work hard to ensure our advertisers benefit from that positive reader engagement.
To learn more about the relative merits of print and digital advertising, read about why digital giants Google and Facebook advertise in print and how your advertising message is significantly enhanced within the context of a favourite magazine.
And we can’t resist closing without one more thought for your consideration: Your ad in In The Hills is delivered to 40,000 households in the Headwaters region every quarter (that’s 160,000 sets of eyeballs a year – more than double that number when you consider each copy is read – make that “shared” – by an average of 2.4 people). How long will it take, and how much will it cost you, to achieve that kind of exposure on social media?
For information about the many ways In The Hills can help increase your advertising impact, please contact one our representatives:
In The Hills – Orangeville, Shelburne,
Creemore and areas north of Hwy 9
In The Hills – Caledon, Bolton, Erin
and areas south of Hwy 9