Social Media and Your Small Business: Pros and Cons

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In today’s world where internet is everywhere, it seems like a no brainer to set up your business with an assortment of social media accounts. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, there are a slew of ways to market yourself on the web. But is it really free and is it the right choice for you and your business. Below I have outlined some of the pros and cons of utilizing social media to help you to make the best choice for you and your business.

Let’s begin by looking at some of the pros.

Free Advertising

One of the biggest perks to social media sites is that they are free to use. Unlike print ads, tv commercials, and radio spots, this community hubs allows you the opportunity to reach a wide audience without paying a dime. You simply set up your site and create your virtual presence.

Create Conversations

Another benefit to sites like Facebook is that it allows you to create a conversation with your clients. You can pose questions, share pictures and engage your audience in dialogue in a way you can’t with traditional marketing and advertising. In this way, social media is like the missing link between traditional advertising and face-to-face interaction.

Quick Access to New Clients

Another benefit is that it is easy for your business to spread quickly. If you share a couple pictures on your business page and a couple of your clients share the picture with their friends and so on and so forth – you can create a viral campaign without even meaning to. It can really be a great way to find more clients and spread the word about your business.

Share Your Personality

With sites like Twitter and Facebook, you are encouraged to share more than just professional information. These sites are designed to enable people to share their personal lives. Thus, it is in your best interest to share a bit about yourself or maybe even some behind the scenes. Sharing this kind of information can help to pull more people into your business as well.

Now that we’ve covered some of the pros, let’s discuss some of the cons.

Time Consuming

One of the biggest drawbacks to social media sites is that they can quickly consume a lot of time. Setting them up alone can be time consuming, especially if you take the time to design them to reflect your brand. Additionally, it’s easy to get sucked in. You hop on for a quick minute to update your status and before you know it you’ve spent a half hour perusing the site.

Negativity Will Spread Quickly

While word about your business can spread quickly through Google+ and Facebook, negative commentary about your business can spread even more quickly. People are far more likely tell others about a bad experience than a good one. And social media sites provide people with an easy way to share their feedback good or bad.

Can Be Less Professional

While these community based sites are great for creating client relationships, it can also set your business up to look less professional. For most small businesses, this isn’t usually a problem, but it is definitely something to consider when determining how to best represent yourself in all forms of marketing.

Not Ideal for Client Acquisition

Of course the other downside to social media is that there isn’t really a call to action. People can visit your site and chat and interact as much as they like, but there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get a client out of them. Plus, you can’t really narrow your target market through these sites as they are wide and all encompassing. You’re basically submitting yourself and your business out into the web-o-sphere and hoping you hit the right people and that they pick up the phone and call.

As you can see there are pros and cons to using social media to market your business. Of course, it is free and an easy way to reach a large audience while simultaneously connecting with them on a more personal level, but it can also be very time consuming, unprofessional, and negativity can spread quickly. Not to mention that you have no way of specifying who your social sites reach. In truth social media is a great way to market yourself for free, but it’s not something you can truly count on to bring in new clients.

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