social media pros and consSocial media has taken communication to a whole new level over the last decade, but every benefit it brings comes with a caution. What should you look out for – and how do you ensure social media continues to work well for you?

Social media is ultra-convenient and costs nearly nothing…
The basic social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat are free, and accessible at any time from any smart device. Gaining a lot of followers, especially on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, can potentially generate revenue through sponsored posts and advertising opportunities.

…Except time and quality resource

You’re free to set up a raft of social media accounts, but do you have the time and expertise to build a fully rounded social media presence? This requires long-term commitment and constant attention to become a permanent fixture of your working life. Make sure to plug into a team well-versed in social media.

Social media gives you a voice – and ears…
It’s so much more than just a marketing tool. When you’re broadcasting you can share company and industry news, promotions and more.

When you’re in ‘listening mode’ you can tune in to what customers are saying to improve your products, assortment and customer service, boost business intelligence, spread news, messaging and much more.

Social media listening tools provide you with invaluable insights into your market, competitors, clients, products and services, as well as valuable information about your customer’s social media behavior.

The data you’ll collect from listening will help you refine your messaging, such as knowing what posts your followers respond to, when to post them, and on which channel.

…But it’s hard to control, and to filter out noise
We’ve all seen how quickly false rumours can spread across the web before the truth has time to post a statement on Instagram. It’s also never a good idea to tell people not to tweet or repost anything unfavourable, unless you’re hoping a little light mockery goes totally viral.

Gone are the days of the old-style marketing in pre-Internet days, where companies could tightly control the messages they send and restrict the amount of information available to the public.

Social media, with its innate ‘viral’ nature and one-to-one messaging means companies cannot control or even see what’s written about them. That leaves you open to scrutiny by existing and potential customers and competitors.

Conversations on social media are all in the public domain. This means any compliments or complaints posted on social media can be for everybody to see, which can be a worry.

On the plus side, it means learning to communicate with openness, clarity and honesty about your company’s performance and products. Sophisticated customers and commentators can see right through waffle, obfuscation and corporate BS.

Social media is great for SEO (search engine optimisation)…
As we’ve talked about recently, social and shareable content helps boost organic search results and elevates your content’s rank and credibility. The more engaging your posts are, the more they’ll be shared – and the more they’ll boost SEO rankings … Which is part of the constant change.

Search algorithms are updated regularly, but even they can’t keep up with the rise and fall of social media networks. These can change anything, like their terms and conditions, and their functionality; they might even cease to exist virtually overnight.

So what’s the easiest way to manage these pros and pitfalls?
Make sure to constantly review and adapt your social media strategy, and make sure it’s plugged into content, SEO and marketing. Spend the money on gathering the best insight, and on a dedicated resource to make the most of your social media channels. That way, if you do trip up on social media, you can come through unscathed or even better than before.