The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Social Media in Business

Using social media to build, develop and further progress a business is nothing new. With more than 80% of the US population having a social media profile, it comes as no surprise that all the major social media platforms have become a breeding ground for testing and improving various advertising strategies. However, with so many people using social media on a daily basis, it only takes one wrong move for a company and its employees to experience a major security breach and have their brand and business completely ruined.

The Good

Social media can be a great tool for brand and business development. Instead of relying on traditional advertising means which are expensive and produce hard-to-measure results, marketers can use online advertising to target just the right audience and serve them with ads tailored to their preferences. This selective ad placement allows businesses to market themselves only to people who are most likely to be interested in their offerings, based on their browsing histories, cookies, likes, shares, profile connections, etc. All this information can be used to further test and improve your social media advertising campaign and ensure the best possible results.Social Media 

Due to their large user-base, social media allows businesses to increase brand recognition and visibility, improve brand loyalty and offer more opportunities to convert, as well as higher conversion rates. Brands are viewed as more “humanized” due to social media interaction with their customers and as such, experience higher brand authority. Additionally, search engines such as Google have started to incorporate factors such as social media presence and interaction into their search algorithms, which is particularly important if you want to have the best possible ranking position in the search results.

The Bad

As there are benefits to using social media in everyday business, there are the downsides. One of the major setbacks a company can experience due to social media is to have their employees download a virus and experience a security breach. Another excellent example is unlawful and unprotected sharing of sensitive company information, which is often the case with scams and phishing attacks. This is why professional IT consulting companies recommend that business owners limit social media access to their employees unless it’s required by the nature of the job itself.

Human error is responsible for most social media security threats. Employees could be interacting with a fake account, click on a phishing link or fill out a fake form with sensitive information without even knowing. Customers and employees accidently sharing confidential or personal information on social media profiles and public forums is the number one trigger behind compliance issues, so make sure to limit social media access only to those responsible for maintaining and updating the company’s social media profiles.

The ugly

When utilized properly, social media becomes an indispensable tool for brand development and building a decent following. However, if something goes wrong, social media can quickly become a liability. As most companies often have dedicated teams of people who have access to social media profiles, it’s important to make sure that they switch between personal and work accounts appropriately and take away the access from people no longer working for the company. There are countless stories of former workers taking advantage of the fact that they still have access to company’s social media profiles, so try to avoid making mistakes like these.

Misguided marketing campaigns and mishandled responses can quickly ruin brand confidence. Reaching out to dissatisfied customers and doing spin control is important, otherwise, you risk negatively impacting your brand image. Not knowing what you’re posting, promoting competitors, oversharing a specific post and overusing automatic responses are all ways to tarnish your brand’s reputation and the best way to avoid blunders like these is to have a marketing team with each team member dedicated to their specific tasks, instead of having a couple of people responsible for all social media interaction.  

Some may consider social media marketing as the next big thing that needs be taken advantage of while it’s still popular. Others view it as a fad which offers no real advantage over the more traditional means of marketing. The truth is that social media advertising works and it works pretty well when properly devised and put into action. With it, companies have the ability to market themselves cheaply and more accurately and experience better conversion rates when compared to traditional marketing efforts. But it is a two-edged sword, and using it inappropriately can quickly turn your brand into a laughing stock and results in a complete loss of brand authority and in turn, loss in revenues.

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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