In recent years, social media has become ubiquitous and most important for social networking, content sharing and online accessing. Due to its reliability, consistency and instantaneous features, social media opens a wide place for businesses such as online marketing. Marketing which occurs via social media is known as social media marketing. Social media marketing has made possible for companies to reach targeted consumers easily, effectively and instantly. Besides that, social media marketing also faces several challenges in the field.
Social media marketing is a new trend and rapidly growing way in which businesses are reaching out to targeted customers easily. Social media marketing can be simply defined as the use of social media channels to promote a company and its products. This kind of marketing can be thought of as a subset of online marketing activities that complete traditional Web based promotion strategies, such as e-mail newsletters and online advertising campaigns.
The pros and cons of the Social Media Marketing are as follows:
The main advantage of social media marketing is cost-related. The financial barriers to social media marketing are quite low compared to others. The majority of social media sites are free to access, create profile and post information. Whereas traditional marketing campaigns can cost millions of dollars, many social media tools are free even for business use. Businesses can run highly successful social media marketing campaigns on a limited budget.
Social InteractionOne of the most notable phenomena of new media is how it has increased and created new forms of social interaction. People spend more than a quarter of their time online involved in communication activities (e.g.,emails, IM chat, and social networks), which is equivalent to the total time spent online for general leisure and entertainment. Social networking sites have become so pervasive that they are the most popular Internet destinations. Not only has new media demonstrably altered how often people communicate online, but it has also enlarged the pool of individuals they communicate with, and led to new ways for behaviors to be influenced.
InteractivityUnlike watching TV or listening to the radio, the interactivity of new media lets consumers become more than just passive recipients of stimulation. Interactivity can be broadly described as the, extent to which users participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time. Interactivity is one of the defining characteristics of new media technologies, giving greater access to information as well as supporting increased user control of and engagement with social media content.
Targeted marketSocial media provide marketers with the ability to target audiences and consumers based on site users’ personal interests and what their friends like. For example, list country music as one of your interests on a social networking site; you will most likely be seeing ads about country music concerts and artists. Some sites’ advertising will also highlight which country artists your friends like to provide a personal connection. With such “smart” marketing, and advertising, marketers effectively reach the people who are most interested in what they have to offer.
Customer ServiceCustomer service is another crucial area for social media marketing. Sometimes website designers cannot avoid a certain degree of complexity in the architecture of a website. Therefore, it is necessary to have a thoughtful customer service system. Links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and links to online representatives are useful in order to assist customers in the selection or buying process. A marketer should not just offer online assistance. In many cases, it is more convenient for customers to call a company. Therefore, the use of a toll free phone number for customers should be considered.
- Trademark and Copyright Issues
It is of the utmost importance for companies to protect their own trademarks and copyrights when using social media to promote their brands and products. A company‟s brands and other intellectual property are often nearly as valuable as the products or services that they offer. Social media’s capacity to facilitate informal and impromptu communication often on a real-time basis can aid companies in promoting their brands and disseminating copyrighted material, but it can also facilitate third-party abuse of a business’ trademarks and copyright.
Time intensiveAs the name implies, social media is interactive, and successful, two-way exchanges take commitment. The nature of marketing changes in social networks, with the focus placed on establishing long-term relationships that can turn into more sales. Somebody has to be responsible to monitor each network, respond to comments, answer questions and post product information the customer deems valuable. Businesses without a service to manage these social networks will find it difficult to compete.
Trust, Privacy and Security Issues
Using social media to promote one’s brand, products, or services can also implicate trust, privacy and data security issues. It is important for companies to aware of these issues and takes appropriate measures to minimize their exposure to liability related to personal data collection, use, and maintenance. Trust, particularly the unique dimensions of transactional security and privacy, play a critical role in generating customer loyalty to social media marketers.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
During the last few years, users have spent more time and shared more information, thoughts, and opinions with each other easily via the Internet. Also, new forms of content generation, communication, and collaboration have come out on the Internet. Oftentimes marketing strategies involving social networking sites or other social media incorporate user-generated content (UGC) into the field. For example, UGC allows Internet users to make comments in various forms, such as photos, videos, podcasts, ratings, reviews, articles, and blog.
Negative FeedbacksSocial media, in a way, converts consumers into marketers and advertisers, and consumers can create positive or negative pressure for the company, its products, and its services, depending both on how the company is presented online and on the quality of products and services presented to the customer. Consumer-generated product reviews, images, and tags, which serve as a valuable source of information for customers making product choices online, have increased rapidly on the Internet and have had a great impact on electronic commerce following the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies.