PR From The Saddle: Social media advertising for small businesses – what are the pros and cons?
With social media advertising seen as the must-have tool for ‘making it’ nowadays, Tara Punter – of Tara Punter PR – shares her thoughts on the matter.
Social media is a great tool for small to medium-sized businesses looking for inexpensive options to add into their marketing strategy. But, like any part of your business strategy, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of social media advertising rather than jumping straight in and spending money. Let’s take a look!
The pros of social media advertising
Affordable and offering a healthy ROI: Social media advertising can be deployed to suit your budget, no matter how meaty or meagre that may be. This is an exciting option for businesses who remember the days of limited advertising in print, billboards and on TV that required some serious soul searching due to the large costs involved. Done properly, the return on investment in social media advertising can be high.
Demographic targeting: Social media platforms enable you to place your adverts in front of people based on their sex, age, location, employment and hobbies (and yes, thanks to Cambridge Analytica, we know that you can target deeply held political beliefs too!).
Extraordinary insight: There’s a quote from the late, great retail magnate John Wanamaker that says – “I know half my advertising doesn’t work, I just don’t know which half.” Well whatever would he have thought of the insight that social media platforms give their advertisers? You can A/B test to find out what works best, and then quickly and easily tweak your adverts to optimise your budget.
The cons of social media advertising
A drop in organic engagement: Getting the balance right is increasingly hard – businesses who choose to advertise on Facebook notice that their organic reach (that’s the number of people they reach with posts that they haven’t paid to boost) drops. That trend seems to be appearing on Instagram too, which means businesses face a conundrum – leave paid promotion alone and hope that organic reach stays buoyant, or boost posts to reach more people but accept you’ll probably have to keep paying for advertising every now and then to keep engagement up.
Social media advertising can be a time sponge: You will need to take some time to create targeted, attractive adverts that will draw people in. Don’t fall into the trap of just boosting posts when the platform tells you to – remember to think like someone who has never seen your product before and aim to use your advert to tell them exactly what they need to know.
Do you have the skills to get creative: Video is now key, even in social media advertising, which means more work from you to create content which engages your potential audience and potentially more investment as you probably need help to make good quality videos. High quality imagery is key for adverts on all social networks, but in particular Instagram, so again you may need to invest some time and budget on photography.
So, what’s the answer for your business?
You probably have a presence on social networks already, but I can’t encourage you enough to take some time to think about where you’ll find your customers (Instagram’s users are young, Twitter and Facebook a little older) before you spend money on advertising. Review your business goals and decide what you will use your advertising to do – drive traffic to your website, feature your latest products or raise brand awareness. Explore the advertising services offered by your chosen social network/networks and work out how much money you have in your budget.
Social media is a powerful tool, so to make the most of your investment you may want to consider taking advice from a digital marketing expert. Whether that’s for some help creating the visual elements of your adverts or helping to identify a strategy that will support your aims and offer the best value for money, an expert will be able to answer all your questions. I offer social media marketing advice and management, so if you want to chat through your options I would be more than happy to help you.