Social Media Marketing: The Challenges and Opportunities

Social media has transformed the way we connect with each other both personally and professionally. It allows us to share our thoughts, opinions, experiences, and ideas with the world.  What does this mean for businesses? People are educating themselves and forming opinions about brands by listening to what others have to say. They are comparing prices, rating products, and writing reviews on line about their experiences. Businesses can’t afford to ignore social media.

What are the challenges businesses face when taking a brand social?

UNDEROne of the biggest challenges businesses face with social media, is a lack of understanding of how to properly connect with customers. Schaefer (2012) notes that “people are sick of being sold to, marketed to, and tricked into clicking on links to unwanted products” (p. 19). Businesses must realize that the way to connect with their customers is through sharing meaningful content. In fact, Schaefer further states that “content is the currency of the social web, and sharing that content is the catalyst to new relationships and business benefits” (p. 16).

listening600Li and Bernoff (2011) conclude that “your brand is whatever your customers say it is, and in the groundswell where they communicate with each other, they decide” (p. 78). In order to understand what customers think and what their needs are, businesses must listen.  The abundance of social media sites can be overwhelming. Tools like Hootsuite provide the ideal solution to monitoring multiple platforms at once.

CONTROLBusinesses struggle with loss of control and the fact that their content is copied, edited, and passed on across the web. Once information is published, it can’t be retracted. People can say anything they want about your brand. This is where listening comes into play. The faster a company responds, the better. A disaster plan is critical.

RESOURCES2Allocating resources is another issue facing businesses. Social media must be taken seriously, and resources must be dedicated to it. Top management buy-in is essential to success. Experienced individuals with a solid understanding of the business, marketing, and social media should be appointed to oversee social media efforts and create an effective social media marketing strategy.

EMPOWERINGMany organizations resist empowering their employees to engage with customers online for fear of interacting inappropriately or releasing proprietary information. Companies fail to realize that by restricting access, they are not only demotivating employees, but ignoring potential brand ambassadors!

RETURNCalculating return on investment can be difficult.  Below are some ways businesses can measure engagement:

  • Monitoring incoming web traffic from social media
  • Message amplification (# of retweets/1000 followers, # of retweets/day)
  • Conversation rate (# of replies sent daily, number of replies received daily)
  • % increase in followers over time
  • RSS feed subscribes
  • Number of comments
  • Revenue

Now let’s talk about the challenges businesses face by not participating in social media:

lack of involvementWhether you like it or not, people are talking about your brand online. Wouldn’t you rather be a part of the conversation? A negative review could be a PR nightmare. It’s better to be involved and be able to take action quickly.

who are my customersMissing out on these conversations limits deep understanding of who your customers are and what their needs are.

missed insightsNot participating in social results in over-looking valuable customer insights that can be used for product development, modification, and innovation.

LOST BUS OPPSSocial media is a great way to develop new relationships, and it helps to drive business by creating awareness and linking to a company’s website.

BRAND RECWith its global reach, social media can quickly build brand awareness.

fewer ambassadorsBy not taking a brand social, companies risk missing opportunities to create brand ambassadors through satisfied customers and empowered employees.

REDUCEDSEOSocial media content is public and indexed on search engines, thus improving the likelihood of a higher page rank.

Clearly, it makes good business sense to participate in social media. In order for it to be successful, however, social media must be taken seriously and a strategic plan should be created.


Brogan, C. (2013). Google+ for Business. (2nd ed.) Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing.

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Schaefer, M. (2012). The Tao of Twitter. McGraw-Hill.

Stelzner, M. (October 7, 2013). How Google Analytics is Impacting Business . Retrieved from

Watson Helsby (2010). Digital Communications and Social Media: The challenges facing the PR industry. [PDF file]. Retrieved from

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6 Responses to Social Media Marketing: The Challenges and Opportunities

  1. I Like the voting thing, I still believe that Loss of control is among the major issues that managers afraid to deal with when it comes to social media employment in business, other factors are also important but in my opinion the next major thing that prevent any business form going social will be the lack of skilled and trained employees who can handle any comments or sudden reactions on any social media platform which some times destroy the company reputation for a long time not to mention its brand.

    • JA Silva says:

      Yes, I agree with you that loss of control is a major concern, and I think that by hired skilled individuals to manage social media, as well as training employees on how to use it will help to alleviate this issue.

  2. chardeeism says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights regarding the use of social media and lack of understanding. I think when it comes to corporations, brands, etc. A keen understanding of both social media and your customer is integral to understanding your customers and their buying habits.

    • JA Silva says:

      Yes, I agree. In order to effectively engage with customers over social media, businesses must fully understand who there customers are and what their needs are. One way to gain a better understanding of customers is to first listen to what they are saying on social media. From there, businesses can gain valuable insights on which social sites their customers are using as well as trends in the marketplace and what customers think about their products.

  3. tarrasann says:

    I too believe that the Loss of control is a major issue. As a manager I deal with social media on a daily basis to generate, promote and review information in my company but I do know that other managers in our location do not utilize it and are intimidated by it.

    • JA Silva says:

      Yes, I too think loss of control is one of the biggest concerns businesses have with social media. This is in part due to not understanding how to use it. I think that hiring individuals experienced in social media is critical as is training employees on how to use it.

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