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14 Social Media Pros and Cons

  |  November 24, 2010   |  Comments

Make sure your eyes are wide open in social media.

We often exult the greatness of social media, but in our euphoria we sometimes overlook the dark side of social media. I thought it would be helpful to put together a quick pros and cons list so that if you are engaging with social media for your company that you can go in with eyes wide open.

Pros:

  • Low hard costs compared to traditional marketing like print, television, outdoor, etc.
  • Quick, honest, and detailed feedback from the customer.
  • Allows for deeper engagements with customers.
  • Similar to great brand marketing and customer service, the benefits of doing social media right can last for years.
  • Every customer and employee is a potential media outlet: social media is word of mouth on digital steroids.
  • In the past, companies that had the most money to spend on marketing often won, today it's the company that produces great products and experiences for their customers.
  • Social media takes time and effort. Many companies aren't willing to do this, hence those companies that put forth the extra effort will stand out.
  • If you are a progressive company you can use these tools to effectively recruit new talent.

Cons:

  • Often, many benefits of social media are seen in the months to come rather than immediately. It shouldn't be viewed like Google AdWords, which has a quick return. It should be viewed more like brand marketing and good customer service, which pays off in the future.
  • Tools can quickly change; one day it is MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, and Bebo; the next day it's Facebook and Mixi.
  • There are a lot of hidden soft costs: it takes time to develop relationships with customers. In the offline world, developing relationships takes time and effort – the same holds true within social media.
  • May reduce the amount of face-to-face communication we have with one another, diminishing on interpersonal communication skills.
  • If the customer feels they haven't been treated appropriately, they have powerful tools at their disposal (YouTube, Twitter, etc.) to express their side of the story and negatively impact a brand reputation.
  • Often we turn over our brand ownership to employees and customers and they can take us places we don't want to go.
  • Just like anything, there are some cons to social media. However, advantages outweigh the disadvantages and even if they didn't, we don't have a choice on whether we do social media. The question is how well we do it. The worst thing to do, is to do nothing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik Qualman

Called a Digital Dale Carnegie, Erik Qualman is the author of best sellers Socialnomics (2009) and Digital Leader (2011). Socialnomics made the #1 Best Sellers List in seven countries and was a finalist for "Book of the Year." Fast Company Magazine lists Qualman as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He is a frequently requested international speaker and has visited 42 countries. He produced the world's most viewed social media video series and it has been used by NASA to the National Guard.

He has been fortunate to share the stage with Julie Andrews, Al Gore, Tony Hawk, Sarah Palin, Jose Socrates (Prime Minister of Portugal), Alan Mulally, and many others. For the past 17 years Qualman has helped grow the digital capabilities of many companies including Cadillac, EarthLink, EF Education, Yahoo, Travelzoo, and AT&T. He is also an MBA Professor at the Hult International Business School. Qualman holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MBA from The University of Texas. He was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and recently gave the commencement address at the University of Texas. He lives in Boston with his wife and daughter.

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