Why Balance is Important in Social Media Marketing

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Social media marketing has been a very popular practice for businesses in the present day, but a recent Temple study shows that businesses must find a proper balance in order to avoid negative results. In an article originally written by Noah Tahnen of The Temple News, the university study is presented to businesses who currently rely on social media marketing to attract new customers.

While the potential for social media marketing seems almost limitless, a study led by Ph.D. candidate Shuting Wang and senior associate dean of research Paul Pavlou reveals the exact opposite. The Temple professionals recently conducted a study which looked to determine the specific value of social media marketing in relation to data from WeChat and a Chinese shoe retailer.

The study revealed that while social media advertising had a positive impact on increasing customer sales in the short term, it actually created a negative impact on the business in the long term.
When looking at the specific figures, the business witnessed a 5% increase in sales on the same day following a social media post. However, this same post increased the chance that customers would unfollow the business by 300%. Within five months, the retailer experienced a 5% decreased in sales paired with a 20% loss of online followers within a year.

With regard to these findings, Shuting Wang notes that people often “get annoyed” by a company’s post in the long term compared to the short term. “In that case, they will unfollow, which will lead to a long-term decrease in purchases,” Wang said.

Researcher Paul Pavlou believes this phenomenon can be contributed to the way in which companies often “over-do” social media.

“They see that the more posts they put out there, the more sales they’re going to see,” Pavlou notes. “Companies should be more careful with this and focus more on their long-term goals. Social media marketing is so quick, so immediate that companies say, ‘Well, let me leverage this as much as possible in the short term,’ and they may actually miss the big picture.”

While the study findings support the idea that too much social media advertising can hurt a company’s sales production, there are contextual factors which also play a role. Professor Paul Greenwood notes that these factors include, “What time of day it is, and where people are located.” In addition, the professor notes that people in large cities, “Unfollow a lot faster…and if you post during rush hour, people unfollow a lot faster, but if you post at off-peak hours or smaller locations, that effect seems to go away.”

While the full extent of social media marketing trends have yet to be identified, Greenwood believes that future research will look to address whether dissatisfied customers go to competing firms or simply stop purchasing in general. This information will drastically help businesses fine-tune their social media strategies going forward.

While the Temple study revealed the potentially harmful effects of social media advertising, it is important to note this only took place when attempting to sell products. Businesses who have a balanced social media approach, or one which incorporates potential sales with public relations, are much more likely to create productive customer relationships in the long run.

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