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Social Media Marketing Pros and Cons.  Sites such as Facebook and Twitter and thousands of blogs and podcasts have made it possible to connect with your customers on a one-on-one basis.

Web 2.0 is here to stay, and social media marketing has emerged as one of the most popular points on the technology spectrum. Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Digg and thousands of blogs and podcasts have made it possible to connect with your customers on a one-on-one basis. Before jumping on the bandwagon, make sure you consider these social media marketing pros and cons.

The pros of social media marketing

    *      You can reach customers that traditional marketing misses. You never know who will direct a friend to your blog, Facebook page or social bookmark post, so your potential for reeling in new leads is unlimited.
    *      You can build brand loyalty. Not only can you use social media to build your brand, you can use it to demonstrate your personality, interact with customers and show them that you care, which, in turn, breeds loyalty. Social media marketing can also boost your reputation and build relationships.
    *      You can learn how to improve your products and services. By encouraging open communication through public comments, you can learn what you can do to make your products and pitch more palatable.
    *      You can learn more about your target audience, not only by their comments but also by studying visitor analytics. This information can prove invaluable when planning other marketing campaigns such as direct-mail postcards.
    *      Social media marketing is cost-efficient in comparison with other marketing methods, even if you hire a dedicated team or outsource your social media content needs.

The cons of social media marketing

Social media marketing places high demands on your time. Content must be created, edited, approved and published; comments must be responded to and sites and pages must be maintained. You can alleviate these demands by outsourcing for a fee.

Social media marketing places high demands on your talent. It can be difficult to constantly come up with innovative exciting content that interests a variety of readers and, without relevance, your efforts will be wasted.

You lose some control of your marketing efforts. Anything you publish is up for grabs, and others can easily criticize you. Publish backlash is the last thing you want your social media marketing to spawn, and without the ability to control comments or even what your own team is publishing you open yourself up for potential negatives.

Your return on investment is delayed. Social media marketing can work to build relationships and brand loyalty, but it takes time and dedication. Social media marketing efforts are not likely to earn immense popularity overnight, so you must be willing to be in it for the long haul if you decide to launch a social media marketing campaign.

As you can see, social media marketing can bring many benefits and increased profits to any company with an online presence, but it comes with caveats. If you're considering launching a social media marketing campaign, make sure you understand all the pros and cons and have a robust plan in place. With proper planning you'll increase your chances for social media success, broaden your company's horizons and be ready to tackle and unfortunate eventualities.

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