Social Media Marketing is apparently the newest buzz word for everyone looking to boost their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked around be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all around the place nowadays and they’re telling anyone that’ll listen about how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for the typical small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social networks really surpass most of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company worthy of it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or even more and telling their clients that they don’t need an internet site because Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they really buying? Social networking marketing companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media like how lots of people use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were delivered this past year and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but have you been getting the total picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was simply spruiking to anyone who came within earshot in regards to the amazing great things about establishing a Facebook business page for small company (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to locate he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a great start). So being the research nut that I am, I made a decision to take a good look into SMM in regard to selling to see if it actually worked, who made it happen benefit and if it did why did Social Media Marketing benefit them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted by several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having an internet site sounds good but they’d a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the action to take, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networks or SMM to generate online sales, They only wanted it. For small and medium-sized business I recommended creating a quality website over any type of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that will be a lot more like LinkedIn).smm panel I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. Truth be told that social media marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is a social network not a 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 that they make use of a se like Google (which has around half the se market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They utilize it to keep touching family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media users stated that they cannot engage with brands over social media at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to communicate with brands. Now out of all of the people who do use social media and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And is it even worth doing?
Well first of all I’d say that having a well optimized website remains going to create you a lot more business that social media typically particularly if you are a small to medium-sized local business because far more individuals are likely to key in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you do not have an internet site you’re missing all of the potential business. However despite most of the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still a good idea for business to utilize social media just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked at social networks like Facebook as a brand new market ripe for the picking and when Facebook started getting users measured by the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% of the organization (in June 2004) and since them several venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and 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 amount of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Of course it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue that will be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is exercising for them but it’s exercising for you? Well… statistically no, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately searching for something so if they do a seek out hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that specific time. With something like Facebook the principal intent is usually for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from we have now to figure out what the optimum model is. But that 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 need from their social media interactions with companies.” For instance in the current society people are not just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for this, and so the old adage “what’s inside for me personally?” comes into play. So the principal reason a lot of people give for getting together with brands or business on social media is to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people communicate with them on social media is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the listing of reasoned explanations why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social media increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.Read More