Social Media Marketing appears to be the newest buzz word for everyone seeking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all over the place today and they are telling anyone that will listen about how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for your average small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networking sites really live up to all of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company well worth it? And has anyone really done their research about this before they hired someone to put together there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up things like Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $one thousand or more and telling their customers that they don’t need a website because Facebook is the biggest social networking on earth and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it could be factual that Facebook is definitely the largest social network on earth you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is could they be actually buying? Social media companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social networking like the amount of people use Facebook or the amount of tweets were sent a year ago and just how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you obtaining the full picture? I remember when i sat close to a SMM “expert” with a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone that came within earshot regarding the amazing benefits of starting a Facebook business page for small enterprise (with him obviously) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued from the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good beginning). So being the research nut that I am, I decided to have a look into SMM in regards to selling to see if it genuinely worked, who did it work with and when it did why did social media platforms benefit them? And really should business rely so heavily on social networking sites for sales?
Being a web developer I was constantly (and today increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when prospective clients would say that possessing a website sounds good nevertheless they had a Facebook business page along with been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the action to take, but after discussing their requirements it became quite clear those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social media sites or SMM to produce online sales, They just wanted it. For small, and medium-sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any kind of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Networking, and social media sites are Social Media Sites they are not business media and business networks (that could be a lot more like LinkedIn). I am aware that sounds simple but it’s true as well as the statistics back it up. The fact is that social media marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a social network not a search engine and despite the quantity of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way that they use an internet search engine like Google (which has around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They use it to connect with friends and relations or news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social media marketing users stated they usually do not engage with brands over social media marketing at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to have interaction with brands. Now of the many those who use social media and who do connect with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well first of all I would say that using a well optimized website is still planning to give you far more business that social media marketing in most cases especially if you certainly are a small to medium sized small business because much more people will type “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Networking Site and when you don’t use a website you’re losing out on all of that potential business. However despite each of the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still a great idea for business to make use of social networking just not in the same manner that many SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in how they promise it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall checked out social media sites like Facebook as a fresh market ripe for that picking and once Facebook started getting users measured by the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% from the company (in June 2004) and since them a few venture capital firms are making investments into Facebook and then 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 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 Media Marketing company’s interest to talk social networking sites up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s best interests for people to think that companies can sell en masse by marketing and advertising along with them? Obviously it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the earlier year as the revenue which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is exercising for them yet it is training for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean that it never will.
I believe the key distinction between social media sites and look engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a search for hairdressers that’s the things they are looking for at that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the primary intent is normally to get in touch with family and friends. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks can be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engine Listings) did… In 36 months from now we must determine what the optimum model is. But which is not our primary focus today”. One of the biggest problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they desire using their social media interactions with companies.” For example in today’s society people are not just planning to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, and so the old adage “what’s within it for me?” is needed. So the primary reason many people give for interacting with brands or business on social media dfrbnq to get discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the main reason people communicate with them on social media is to discover new items. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their listing of main reasons why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, only 38 % of clients agree.