Social Media Marketing Definition

Advantages, Disadvantages & How Your Business Can Use Social Media Marketing

Social Media
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Social Media Marketing Definition

Social media marketing is a way for businesses to interact with their target markets over the internet via various social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram (to name just a few).

How is Social Media Marketing Used?

Social media marketing is used for all the traditional marketing goals - to reach customers and:

Social Media Platforms

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are the most popular forms of social media. For more information on how your small business can use social media marketing to connect with your customers see:

How to Create a Business Page on Facebook

How to Create a Facebook Welcome Page

Why Your Business Should Use Twitter

How to Use Twitter (A Get Started Guide)

5 Tips for Promoting Your Business on Twitter

Leverage LinkedIn to Increase Your Business

Introduction to LinkedIn Social Networking Service

How to Create a Custom LinkedIn Profile URL

Should Your Business Use Pinterest?

How to Best Use Pinterest for Your Business

7 Ways to Use Pinterest in Your Small Business

The Advantages of Social Media Marketing

  • Cost - compared to other forms of marketing social media is very inexpensive. It is free to create accounts on all of the above platforms and free to make postings to followers, who will hopefully share the message with other members of the social media community and spread the word. There are also various paid advertising options to reach larger audiences within the social media community. Facebook offers comprehensive options for ad targeting, for example, such as the ability to target members that reside within a specific geographic radius.
  • Engaging the audience - social media allows the business to engage the target audience and develop interactive relationships with customers.

The Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing

  • Time - The main problem with social media marketing from a business perspective is that it can be incredibly time-consuming. Social media marketing campaigns are not one-shot affairs; they need to be nurtured over time. While big businesses such as Dell, Microsoft and HP have been using social media marketing effectively, they have the kinds of marketing budgets that allow them to assign x number of staff to conduct and manage social media marketing campaigns, resources that a lot of small businesses don't have.
  • Direct advertising on Social Media doesn't work - Businesses using social media want to sell their products or services of course. But as blatant advertising on social media would, in most cases, alienate their intended audience or even get them kicked out of the particular social community they're trying to infiltrate, businesses need to use more subtle forms of promotion on social media. To use social media marketing effectively, businesses have to be perceived as members of the social media community, willing to interact with other members.
  • Risks - given the community nature of social media, businesses must be aware of the risks. A negative posting by a customer, ex-employee, or competitor (whether true or false) can seriously damage the reputation of a business. If a hacker manages to take control of a social media account the results can be catastrophic. Even a harmless posting can turn into a public relations disaster. For example, in 2012 McDonalds tried to engage with the social media community by posting a tweet under the hashtag "#McDStories" - customers responded by posting horror stories such as finding fingernails in burgers or being hospitalized for food poisoning after eating at McDonalds.


Still, social media marketing is a type of marketing that many small businesses could benefit from, if only to find out more about what their customers are thinking - and saying - about their brand and their products.

Examples: The main goals of social media marketing are to build a business's customer base and to develop and manage a company's reputation.

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