Social Media seems to be the latest buzz word for everyone seeking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up just about everywhere these days and they are telling anyone that will listen regarding how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for your average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social networks really meet all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on employing a SMM company well worth it? And contains anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things such as Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $1,000 or even more and telling their clientele they don’t need a website because Facebook will be the biggest social networking in the world and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it might be correct that Facebook is the largest social media in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual real question is will they be actually buying? Social networking companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like the number of people use Facebook or the amount of tweets were sent out this past year and just how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. however are you getting the full picture? I remember when i sat next to a SMM “expert” with a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone that came within earshot regarding the amazing benefits of establishing a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued through the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the investigation nut i am, I decided to have a look into SMM when it comes to selling to determine if it actually worked, who did it work with and when it did why did social media marketing benefit them? And really should business rely so heavily on social media sites for sales?
Being a web developer I was constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social media challenges when potential customers would claim that having a website sounds good nevertheless they enjoyed a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social media sites were the thing to do, but after discussing their requirements it became quite clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social media sites or SMM to create online sales, They simply wanted it. For small, and mid-sized business Normally i recommended building a quality website over any type of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social media sites are Social Networking Sites they are certainly not business media and business networks (that could be a lot more like LinkedIn). I understand that sounds simple but it’s true and also the statistics back it up. The truth is social media marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a social network not an internet search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way which they use a search engine like Google (which has around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They normally use it to communicate with family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recent study performed by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social networking users stated they usually do not engage with brands over social networking at all and just around 23% actually purposefully use social media to have interaction with brands. Now of the many those who do use social media marketing and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website remains going to give you far more business that social media typically specifically if you really are a small to mid-sized local company because a lot more people are going to type “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Networking Site and if you don’t use a website you’re passing up on all that potential business. However despite each of the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still a good idea for business to make use of social media just not in the same manner that many SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in how they claim it will. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general considered social networking sites like Facebook being a fresh market ripe for your picking and when Facebook started getting users measured by the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% in the company (in June 2004) and since them a few venture capital firms are making investments into Facebook as well as in October 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings up to now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to truly capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers does not equal buyers. Is it in a Social Networking company’s best interest to speak social networking sites up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to believe that companies can sell en masse by marketing and advertising with them? Needless to say it is. During early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as the revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is exercising to them however it is working out for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean it never will.
In my opinion the key distinction between social networks and check engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s the things they are looking for in that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the key intent is normally to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networking sites can be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engine Listings) did… In 36 months from now we must figure out what the optimum model is. But which is not our primary focus today”. One of the greatest problems business face with social media sites and SMM is perception. In accordance with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there was “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they want off their social networking interactions with companies.” As an example in today’s society people are not just likely to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, therefore the old adage “what’s in it for me?” is needed. So the main reason a lot of people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing dfrbnq to obtain discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the main reason people connect with them on social networking is to learn about new releases. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their own listing of explanations why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of clients agree.