Social Media seems to be the most recent buzz word for anyone seeking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are actually springing up all over the place today plus they are telling anyone that will listen about how incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your small business but, for your average small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social media sites really meet each of the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company well worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up things like Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their customers which they don’t need to have a website because Facebook is definitely the biggest social network on earth and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it might be correct that Facebook will be the largest social networking on earth you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real real question is are they actually buying? Social networking companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social media like how many people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent this past year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. however are you getting the full picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” with a business seminar who has been spruiking to anyone that came within earshot concerning the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued through the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him high on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the investigation nut i am, I chose to take a good look into SMM in regard to selling to see if it really worked, who did it work with and in case it did why did top 10 social media websites work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that possessing a website sounds good nevertheless they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the thing to do, but after discussing their demands it became quite clear that individuals prospective clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networking sites or SMM to create online sales, They simply wanted it. For small and medium sized business I always recommended creating a quality website over any kind of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Networking, and social media sites are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that would be a lot more like LinkedIn). I understand that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. The truth is social media marketing fails to let you know that Facebook is really a social network not the search engines and despite the quantity of Facebook users and Google users being round the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner which they use an internet search engine like Google (that has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They use it to connect with friends and family or news and entertainment. In a recent study performed by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all the social media marketing users stated they usually do not engage with brands over social media marketing in any way and merely around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to interact with brands. Now of all the people who do use social media and who do connect with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, most (66%) say they need to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will likely interact.
Well to start with I would personally claim that having a well optimized website remains going to provide you with much more business that social networking typically specifically if you really are a small to medium-sized local company because a lot more people will type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into an internet search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to what they ever will on any Social Networking Site and if you don’t use a website you’re passing up on all of that potential business. However despite all the (not too good) statistics I still think it is still a wise idea for business to make use of social media marketing simply not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the manner they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business as a whole checked out social media sites like Facebook as being a fresh market ripe for your picking and when Facebook started getting users measured through the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% of the company (in June 2004) and since them a couple of venture capital firms are making investments into Facebook and then in October 2007, Microsoft announced that it had bought a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings up until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have did not truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers fails to equal buyers. Will it be in a Social Networking company’s best interest to speak social networks up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s best interests for people to believe that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing along with them? Of course it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as the revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is training to them however it is working out for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean which it never will.
In my opinion the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately looking for something therefore if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s whatever they are looking for at this particular time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is normally to get in touch with relatives and buddies. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks may be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engines Like Google) did… In 3 years from now we need to determine what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the biggest problems business face with social media sites and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there was “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they desire using their social networking interactions with companies.” As an example in today’s society people are not only planning to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, so the old adage “what’s in it for me?” is necessary. So the main reason many people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing dfrbnq to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the key reason people interact with them on social media is to learn about new items. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their own set of main reasons why people connect with them. Most businesses believe social networking increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.