Social media have entered people’s lives straightforwardly and confidently, causing changes in everyone’s routine and bringing a variety of advantages for their users. Originally, social media were exploited as a means of sharing information and collecting feedback. However, in the course of time, more and more industries realized the benefits of this tool. The greatest potential of social media has been noticed in the sphere of marketing. Social networks allow business owners to notify potential consumers about their products and services, announce special offers, and gather customers’ opinions. What is more, social media enable industries to influence users’ choices through carefully crafted target marketing tools. Therefore, the benefits of social media are numerous, and this marketing advantage is utilized by more and more companies that want to increase their profit.
The most pronounced asset of using social media is their potential to promote brands along with the services and products generated by them. Brand benefits are most closely related to positive consumer behavior and customers’ willingness to participate in events offered by the company (Chiang et al. 117). Scholars single out three major ways in which brands can interact with customers via social media. The first approach is the association of a brand’s name with specific evaluations and ideas that customers have (Chiang et al. 117). The second way of interacting is represented by customers’ subjective knowledge of a company and its products. The third option is brand loyalty as a means of making users interact with the company (Chiang et al. 118). Thus, if a brand is well-known, and its customers enjoy the products or services offered by it, the likelihood of social media engagement and interaction is rather high, which leads to positive outcomes for companies.
Social media are important not only for large and famous brands but also for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, as Rugova and Prenaj report, SMEs are too slow to grasp the full potential of social media marketing benefits (86). Whereas SMEs constitute over 90% of global business, they do not exploit the advantages offered by social media to the full extent (Rugova and Prenaj 86). Nigri and Del Bao argue that SMEs can and should use social media to manage sustainability issues. However, as the authors note, many SMEs neglect this opportunity. Meanwhile, such channels as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, blogs, and others, can significantly promote SMEs’ understanding of environmental and social issues (Rugova and Prenaj 88-89). Furthermore, these means can help SMEs to eliminate the negative reaction of users and improve their position in the industry.
The most prominent goal of social media is the arrangement of communication between various groups of interest. With their help, it has even become possible to promote drug safety (Franzen 793). The possibility of informing users about new products or services by means of social networks is called social media marketing (SMM) (Rugova and Prenaj 90). The rapid evolvement of the Internet and information technology has increased the opportunities for communication between organizations and their clients. The main benefit of social media in this respect is the unlimited number of users that one can address at the same time. Apart from that, an undoubted advantage of SMM is the possibility of reaching out to unsatisfied consumers and inquiring about the issues they would like to be resolved (Rugova and Prenaj 90). Hence, companies can avoid the intensification of conflicts with consumers.
Serving as a cost-effective marketing tool, SMM is more advantageous than traditional marketing methods. The most evident SMM benefits for SMEs have increased brand exposure, elevated targeted traffic, generation of leads, enhanced market insights, improved customer interaction, and heightened marketing effectiveness (Rugova and Prenaj 93-94). Brand exposure is easier to arrange with SMM since it allows making potential customers aware of its existence. SMM also functions as a favorable target base due to generating a considerable amount of target traffic. Lead generation is the function enabling companies to engage prospective clients.
Along with numerous benefits, the use of SMM also poses some challenges to SMEs. The first problem that companies may encounter is the lack of time or resources to arrange social media interaction successfully (Rugova and Prenaj 94). For different types of companies, the accessibility of SMM opportunities may not be the same. Not all businesses can afford the required human resources to lead social network pages and communicate with customers. Meanwhile, the response has to be immediate; otherwise, the company’s image and reputation will suffer.
With the help of social media, business owners have gained numerous advantages for promoting their products and services, communicating with customers, and gathering feedback. Currently, many SMEs underestimate the benefits presented by social networks and do not use them to their fullest potential. It is expected that in the future, all companies will exploit SMM both for their own development and for clients’ convenience. Social media are a powerful tool that, if used wisely, can bring about impressive positive results. Therefore, organizations should not neglect these opportunities and should utilize and boost them instead.
Chiang, I-ping, et al. “Exploring the Benefits of Social Media Marketing for Brands and Communities.” International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies, vol.10, no.2, 2019, pp.113-140.
Franzen, Williber. “Can Social Media Benefit Drug Safety?” Drug Safety: An International Journal of Medical Toxicology and Drug Experience, vol. 34, no. 9, 2011, p. 793.
Nigri, Giorgia, and Mara Del Baldo. “Sustainability Reporting and Performance Measurement Systems: How do Small- and Medium-Sized Benefit Corporations Manage Integration?” Sustainability, vol. 10, no. 12, 2018.
Rugova, Blerta, and Burin Prenaj. “Social Media as Marketing Tool for SMEs: Opportunities and Challenges.” Academic Journal of Business, Administration, Law and Social Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3, 2016, pp. 85-97.