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What are the Pitfalls of Only (or Mostly) Relying on Social Media Marketing?

January 10th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Julia Elliott

What are the Pitfalls of Only (or Mostly) Relying on Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing matters. About 92% of companies with at least 100 employees used the tactic as of 2021, the Statista Research Department reports. And almost 67% of their marketers were concerned about their social marketing's effectiveness.

If you're leaning on this tactic, it's normal to worry about whether it's working. Here at Zoe Marketing & Communications, in our 15+ years doing digital marketing, we've increasingly heard businesses fret over whether they should do more social media — more posts, more Reels, more platforms. Sound familiar?

Social marketing is part of a healthy marketing strategy. But relying on it too much can spark issues, as well. In this blog, we'll tackle five of those top challenges, including:

  1. Your reach is limited to the platforms you're using

  2. Shifting algorithms can curtail your efforts

  3. Trying to run too many channels may pose issues

  4. Ads can have potentially limited results

  5. It's interactive and demanding to manage

By the end, you'll feel more confident (and maybe even relieved!) about not putting all your marketing eggs in the social media basket.

1. Your reach is limited to the platforms you're using

This shortcoming is the most obvious: You're only reaching people on the platforms you're on. And even then, it's a small slice of those folks, including:

  • People who've followed you organically

  • People who've followed you via ads you've bought (which you can target by interests, behavior and geography — but it's limited by the amount you invest)

Long-term, this curbs the diversity of your marketing. You're confined to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or wherever you focus your efforts.

Ad-wise, you're missing out on web and app traffic, for instance, which is available with search engine marketing and programmatic ads. Ditto email marketing and other potent tactics.

Yes, having a presence on social media is valuable in building your brand. But it's restricted to the specific "pools" you're swimming in.

2. Shifting algorithms can curtail your efforts

Even if you get in a good groove with your reach, algorithm changes are inevitable. Your content can suddenly show up to fewer followers or paid audience, stunting your traffic.

As a result, successful social media marketing involves a good deal of trial and error — for both organic posts and ads.

Organic may not be enough

Depending on the platform, algorithms paired with audience tastes can hurt or help. Enticing, visual content tends to grab the eye. For example, a treat shop showing videos of its tantalizing rolled ice cream might get high likes and attention.

But let's say you're a pediatric practice. It doesn't "sell" the same way. Social media is still valuable to spotlight your business and keep clients engaged. But it doesn't always lure more of them.

Paid ads help but aren't foolproof

Ads geared at your existing and ideal prospects reach a larger audience and bypass some of the algorithm's limitations. That said, you'll still need to experiment with your creative — i.e., images, videos and words — and audience targeting to see what attracts people.

And you'll need to invest. At Zoe, for Facebook and Instagram, for instance, we recommend a minimum spend of $200/month, sustained over time. "Scaling up," of course, costs more.

3. Trying to run too many channels may pose issues

If you're trying to be on all the socials, that can also be a pitfall. Do you need to be? A few things to keep in mind here:

Value the results over the platform

It's easy to get swept up in social media FOMO. Always check yourself when you're thinking about jumping into another platform. Don't do it because it's there or the trend. Instead, understand the "why" of it.

Often, businesses aren't sure why they've added another channel, but they feel, "I'm there, and I've got to be there." True, a social presence is important and shows legitimacy. But do your research to see if it clicks with your audience. And track your results to see if it's worth it.

Remember: It's more work

You're more likely to spread your staff (and your budget) thin trying to be everywhere at once. It takes different messages and creative for YouTube vs. Twitter, for instance.

That's extra time, money and resources — even if you're savvily "repurposing" content.

Sometimes, it's not a fit

Keep in mind that your audience may be on a particular social platform — but it's not where they want to see you. For example, TikTok tends to feature fun, light videos. If your message is more serious, people might not be in the right headspace or mood to see you.

What social media platforms are right for you? Read this blog to find out.

4. Ads can have potentially limited results

Social media ads can have a lower return on investment, or ROI, than other ads. Why? These platforms are designed for users to scroll through their feeds. Your ad asks them to leave that activity to do something you want them to do. Some might, but more won't.

It's not as 'aligned' as other ads

Consider search engine marketing. People are already searching for something they want. That means they're more likely to click when your ad shows up for them later.

Social media ads, meanwhile, tap into your followers and others based on interests, behaviors and geography. They may be interested in you, or not. And, even if they navigate to your landing page, they may lose interest and not give you their email or "convert."

Forms can help boost a bit

Depending on your product or service, ads that let users fill out a form right in their feeds can sometimes help. It's a couple of steps, they don't have to leave the platform, and you get an email.

That said, it needs to be an enticing enough offer. Again, trial and error is the name of the game.

5. It's interactive and demanding to manage

It's right there in its title: social. People comment on social media content, for better and worse. That means engaging — and engaging with — your audience is essential to the process.

Whether you have a dedicated social media manager or not, it's demanding on two fronts:

  • Creating and posting content that sparks interest, whether organic or ads

  • Being responsive to new and potential customers and addressing their concerns

Lucky enough to have lively comment sections? You'll need to invest time in answering questions and responding to positive and negative comments. This type of marketing puts you in more of a public relations/response mode than others.

Plus, with organic posts, consistency matters for the algorithms. So that also means scheduling posts regularly — multiple times a week or even day.

Next steps to effective social media marketing

Having a social media presence is essential for businesses. That said, you've learned some disadvantages of only (or primarily) relying on it for your marketing.

This blog covered a few pitfalls, including limited reach, algorithm challenges, time and cost investments and demands on your staff.

Want to weave social media marketing into a broader strategy? Talk to your advisor at Zoe Marketing & Communications. We'll tap into our 15+ years of digital marketing experience to craft a healthy, holistic plan to help your company grow.

If you're still doing your research, keep at it! Tap into these key articles to get even better bearings:

Julia Elliott

For 17 years, Julia Elliott crafted strategies and stories for Zoe, along with its sister companies, Metro Parent and Chicago Parent. A deep background in journalism helped her create customized content marketing to drive client success.