Some entrepreneurs and marketing experts see social media advertising as nothing more than a passing fad, something that marketers should take advantage of now with aggressive advertising campaigns before the “next big thing” comes along. In some respects, they could be right. The viability of Facebook and Twitter as marketing tools will only last for as long as people are using those networks. Once these networks are no longer popular and go the way of Myspace, entrepreneurs will need to find new ways to advertise their businesses online.
This doesn’t mean that social media advertising itself will go away, however; individual social networks and marketing strategies will fall out of favor, but the principle behind social media advertising is here to stay. We live in a world where practically everyone is online at some point. If they aren’t at home on their computers, they’re logged in to a library computer, or on their smartphones, or on laptops in coffee shops. It’s too presumptuous to say that everyone in the world has access to the Internet, but there are enough people online to make social media networks excellent tools for all types of marketing and advertising campaigns.
Social media advertising is constantly changing as social networks rise and fall, but it has simply too many benefits and advantages to entrepreneurs to simply go away. Here are just some reasons why business owners and marketing experts should be paying close attention to this new form of advertising.
Benefits of Social Media Advertising
1. SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING INCREASES BRAND VISIBILITY
Increasing brand visibility is the basic goal of all advertising. That has always been the case, whether that advertising was done through television commercials, print ads or radio ads. Some would say that advertising hasn’t changed all that much over the years; people still watch TV and listen to the radio, and statistics show that TV commercials remain the most effective form of advertising. It would be foolish to assume that the “best” form of advertising should be the only form of advertising, however. Advertising a product anywhere will increase its visibility, and there are so many people using social media on a daily basis that it only makes sense to use those platforms as methods of increasing visibility. For example,one study shows that Twitter-supported television campaigns deliver a 50 percent higher ROI than television-only campaigns.
Social media advertising also increases brand visibility among the growing number of young people who don’t watch TV. Obviously, television advertising will be lost on them, which makes advertising through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other social networks as important as ever. Many people first learn of a product or brand because it was mentioned on their Twitter feed or on their Facebook wall, and it is very possible that they wouldn’t have learned of it otherwise.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING IMPROVES BRAND LOYALTY
One of the best things about social media is that it is essentially run by the general public. It is the public who creates the bulk of the content on any social network, and this content is the closest thing we get to people’s unfiltered thoughts on a public forum. A company can use a social network as a platform for a carefully thought out advertising campaign, but what allows that campaign to spread and be seen by millions of people are the users who share it. Social media advertising grows organically, not unlike word-of-mouth advertising. If people see that their friends are on board with a particular product thanks to a retweet or the fact that they “liked” a Facebook page, they will be more likely to try that product.
Social media also allows companies to better connect with their customers. In addition to funny tweets that can be retweeted multiple times, social media advertising can take the form of online games and viral videos that can be shared all over the Internet. The potential for virality (and all of the inherent benefits found there) is a huge driver for many businesses when determining the best marketing strategy to use.
Social media advertising has the potential to spread messages and brand awareness in a way that doesn’t look like traditional advertising. People are much more likely to remember a fun app on their smartphone or a funny viral video than a print ad or a television commercial, and by extension they will fondly remember the product and/or business that such ads are meant to promote.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING IS LESS EXPENSIVE THAN TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING
No matter how social media networks evolve and change over the years, the one constant seems to be that they are free to use. Whether you choose to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr, the only thing you have spent after setting up an account is time. A really great and memorable page on any of these platforms takes only a few hours to create and maintain, and it can reach potentially millions of people. You could certainly spend the money to create a big-budget video much like those seen on TV every day and hope it goes viral, but you could just as easily write a 140-character tweet in a matter of seconds. That tweet could show up on someone’s feed and alert them to your business without costing you a dime.
If you have a video, image or tweet that does go viral, it pretty much takes on a life of its own. People share it everywhere, and it is seen by millions of people. This provides you with weeks or months of essentially free advertising, something that many businesses could only hope to achieve years ago. The benefits here are obvious.
Social media advertising has plenty of benefits over other forms of advertising. With people everywhere connected to the Internet and using social media every day, entrepreneurs in the 21st Century can’t afford to ignore this kind of marketing potential. It is easy for overzealous marketers to get carried away with social media and scare people off with an aggressive advertising blitz, but with the right strategy your social media advertising campaign can grow organically and help increase your business’s visibility. Pay close attention to social networks as they exist now, and watch how they change in the coming years. Social media isn’t going anywhere, and neither will social media advertising.