It is not secret that social media is among the hottest trends in technology today. Despite the fact that many social media sites, such as Facebook, were initially designed for and embraced by the under-30 set, the most growth on these platforms most recently has been older adults.

And while other areas of the technology sector have slowed due to the economy’s continued struggles, social media sites have only continued their swift growth, as they are not held back due to potential users being turned off by cost. The openness and lack of membership fees are two of the primary reasons that social media platforms attract so many users and continue to do so, no matter what the economic climate.

And those reasons are also what make social media so attractive to business marketers. The aim of marketing is to reach as many people as consistently as possible and social media networks allow companies to do just that. No matter what your product, there is someone on a social network who will want to buy it.

And your marketing presence on these networks allows potential customers to interact with your brand and also share their passion for your product with others. Because people regard recommendations from friends and loved ones as among the most important sources of consumer information, this sharing can only be beneficial for you, so there is no reason not to get on board with social networking. Right?

Not quite. Although the allure of social media sites is great, there is more than one side to the story. Social media sites are different from any other type of marketing because they alter the traditional dynamics of marketing campaigns. Instead of allowing you to control the conversation in what is essentially a one-way presentation, social media marketing engages your audience — which is great — but also provides your audience with a voice that tends to be completely on par with your company’s, in terms of authority.

This can empower your fans in a good way, but it can also lead to problems, particularly if you have an unsatisfied customer dominating the conversation or spreading falsehoods. Because news travels fast on social media sites and because the conversation takes place on your particular page, this can have disastrous potential.

Another way in which social media marketing can be problematic for you and your company is that it requires constant vigilance. Social media is that platform that never sleeps, with users around the world connecting at any given time. This means that you may go away one night to find an urgent situation emerging in the morning that has spiraled out of control because you have not yet addressed it.

Additionally, security is a major concern. Having a profile on a social media site means that you have an identity that is not within your complete control. While you know what is going on with your own web xpages at all times, you don’t have that control with a social media profile, where your data is under someone else’s watch.

Having someone compromise your profile would not only be embarrassing, but could also result in a tarnished reputation and loss of consumer and investor confidence. And with a social media profile, all it takes is your username and password to be discovered; there is no need to infiltrate your company website’s security.

Another concern is that you’re not in complete control of the platform. If any changes are made to the website that limit your ability to run promotions or display advertisements as you prefer, there is no way for you to change that. Limitations on everything down to message length, as on Twitter, can limit the benefits of a social media network for you considerably.

Ideally, you’ll want to keep your marketing and brand identity consistent, but that is not always easy to do when using a social media network, as you are forced to play by their rules and may not have the flexibility you want or need in your marketing promotions.

While social media can be great for your marketing efforts, it isn’t necessarily going to be a career-changing tool. It’s best to consider the network’s pros and cons in detail before making any moves.

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