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Social Media in a Marketing World

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Abstract I will be discussing the multiple ways that social media is used as a marketing tool. During this discussion, I will give multiple examples of different companies and outlets that are currently using this method, my personal experience as a small business owner and as a consumer, and lastly the pros/cons. Social media is becoming the number one marketing tool for most businesses, especially that of small ones. There are many great benefits, but there are also some downsides, which I will go into detail about in the upcoming paragraphs. When people think about social media, the first thing that comes to mind is not marketing or any type of advertisements. They think of it is a way to connect with friends and family, stay up to date on current events, check on their favorite sports teams/celebrities, share things about their own lives, and even just a way to pass the time. Social media has grown so drastically over the past few years that it is essentially just part of our daily lives. Most of the population has a cell phone with downloaded social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, just to name a few. Not only do most people have one, or all of these, but chances are they likely check them MULTIPLE times a day.

This simple fact alone is what makes using social media as a marketing tool so successful. Let’s take Facebook, for example, I see advertisements constantly. Not only do I see ads that you can tell have been paid for by big companies, but I also see individual posts from small businesses that are not paying for an advertising or promoting service. There are so many ways now that these small business owners can connect to potential consumers without spending tons of money off advertising like larger companies do. For instance, large companies or companies in general who pay for Facebook’s promoting service will have their ad pop up in random news feeds. However; usually they are targeted. A company that sells nail polish obviously isn’t going to promote their product toward 45-year-old men who mostly post about motorcycles and our second amendment rights. Facebook offers you to choose specific demographics for your ad to target. You can choose an age range, a gender, a geographic location, and people who follow pages that are like yours. This is not a free service obviously, but it is fairly cost efficient depending on how often you want your ad/post to be promoted. Now back to small businesses and using social media as a marketing tool. It’s essential for growth. Think about 20 years ago, how did small businesses get their name out there? Word of mouth mostly, but of course you had newspaper ads and other inexpensive options. Now small businesses can make a post about a special they are running and ask people to share their post with their friends. This is completely free and can connect you to a ton of new customers just through a few shares! Something that I have noticed recently, which I think is genius, is companies posting an item (like a bracelet) and saying they will have one winner of this bracelet in 7 days. However, the catch is that to submit an entry to win, you must tag 5 friends in the comments of the post AND share it!

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How brilliant is that? So, you get 5 direct connections and plus the person shares it with everyone who follows them. Seriously, such a great way to market yourself and network at the same time. I typically have only seen small businesses do this, but a few times I have seen a few larger companies do it. There are tons of other ways you can use social media for marketing as well! Like I mentioned above, there are a ton of other ways to use social media as a marketing tool, but now I’d like to go into reasons why it’s so successful. We already talked about it being a quick way to reach potential customers, but it also helps create brand loyalty, increases conversation rates, and gives the consumers a more personal connection to you. By being able to interact and post frequently, your consumers feel connected to you personally and will essentially help turn to convert the potential customers into actual buyers. To me, this makes perfect sense. I will always buy from my ‘friends’ or people that I feel I have a personal connection to because I feel like if I had any issues I would be able to get great customer service. Not only that but when people feel that connection, they are less likely to feel that your product or service is a rip-off or a scam and will most likely be more apt to talk about you to their friends and share your posts. Your customers become loyal customers and this is just beneficial all the way around. I know personally, my clients have said that the fact that they have had one on one interactions with me makes them feel like when they purchase, they are supporting me and not just tossing their money down the drain. I was a business owner that sold hair supplies and I would also sell novelty items like calendars, drink coasters, and sometimes other merchandise. I started out using Twitter and Facebook to grow my followers. It didn’t take but 6 months or so for me to have about 13,000 followers on both social media platforms. Once my followers were big enough to start implementing different sales techniques without running people off, my profits grew immensely! I paid for a few of Facebook’s targeted ads, as well as Twitters, but most of the marketing was done by posting things myself and using different keywords and hashtags. Hashtags on twitter really helped propel my marketing plan and bring in new followers who eventually turned into customers.

Once I realized how using common hashtags increased profits, I started using Instagram. Instagram utilizes hashtags a lot, and you can use as many as you want vs. Twitter, which had a character limit. I continued to see my profits soar as well as my followers. At this point, I had stopped using the paid services from Facebook and Twitter and just did it on my own. I ran specials and did free giveaways to keep people interested. After reading about my own experience, you would think there were no cons to using social media as a marketing tool, right? Well, wrong, I firmly believe that there are more pros than cons, but I can’t deny that the cons exist. Even though it is more cost effective than a lot of other options, it can still be pricey. According to a blog I read on LinkedIn by Umran Malik (CEO of Snob Monkey LTD) “To get more marketing mileage for your Social Media Marketing efforts, businesses are investing on a full SMM campaign strategy. These investments are ranging anywhere from $75-$200 hourly rates for SMM consulting to a $3000 to $20,000 a month full-press strategy that includes content generation, page/group setups, digital design, and SMM maintenance.” Now that hourly rate seems high, especially if your revenues are not extensively higher than that. However, Malik does go and state that this is still cheaper. Aside from the possible price that you might pay to use social media for marketing, I have personally experienced how time-consuming it is. One of the main things using this method helps you do is interact with your customers on a more personal level. So, you might make a post that highlights a promotion you have going and literally minutes later you have people commenting on it, asking questions, making general statements etc. Of course, you want to interact because that builds a good relationship with your customers and helps turn potential buyers into for sure ones. This can take SOOOOO much time! I had started replying to comments and inbox messages and realized I have spent over an hour doing so. Using social media as a marketing tool sometimes can suck you in the way that social media does in general. In my opinion, of the biggest cons to using this method is the ability for people to leave their opinions. Now, this can be very good for your business, especially if most of your reviews or comments are positive, but it can also be very bad if you get a few negative customers.

Sometimes people will make negative comments on every post that you make, which then makes other customers concerned and possibly scares them away from using your service or business. I call these people Internet trolls, because they don’t just leave a bad 1-star review, but post malicious and hateful content on EVERY SINGLE POST! You could delete comments and what not, but when you have thousands of notifications of comments, you can’t catch them all. Aside from the comments, people can make their own posts and say bad things about your business. They can share their own post on all the local pages and it can do serious damage to your brand name. In conclusion, using social media as a marketing tool is a cost-effective, efficient, and easy tool to use. The price is less than many other marketing tools, as was outlined a little bit by Mr. Malik. It is effective in the sense that you can reach customers, and potential customers are a lot more frequently because of how often people are on different social media platforms. Nor is it effective because of the frequency of interaction, but because of the mass amount of people you can reach and specifically target. Lastly, it’s easy to use because most social media are free to register for, there is not a whole lot that needs to be done to create a post or add, and because of all the apps that each platform has, you literally have the tools at your fingertips. Jamaika McAdams

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