Social Media Marketing is apparently the most recent buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked as much as be?
S.M.M companies are now actually springing up all around the place these days and they’re telling anyone that may listen about how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your organization but, for the typical small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social networks really meet all of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company well worth it? And has anyone really done their research on this before they hired someone to set up 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 in the world and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the greatest social network in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they really buying? Social media marketing companies are too happy to point out the positives of social networking like how lots of people use Facebook or just how many tweets were delivered a year ago and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the entire picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a small business seminar who was spruiking to anybody who came within earshot concerning the amazing advantages of establishing a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to locate he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a great start). So being the study nut that I’m, I chose to take a good look into SMM regarding selling to see if it actually worked, who made it happen work for and when it did why did Social Media Marketing work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) met with several social networking challenges when potential clients would claim 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, smm panel They just wanted it. For small and medium-sized business I recommended developing a quality website over any kind of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social networking is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that will be more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. The truth is that social networking marketing fails to share with you that Facebook is a cultural network not a search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around the exact same, people don’t use Facebook in the exact same way which they make use of a se like Google (which has around half the se market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They put it to use to keep touching family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social networking users stated that they don’t engage with brands over social networking at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to connect to brands. Now out of all those who do use social networking and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or not, most (66%) say they have to feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social networking marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well to begin with I’d claim that having a well optimized website continues to be going to create you far more business that social networking in most cases particularly if you are a small to medium-sized local business because far more individuals will type 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 all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still advisable for business to use social networking just not in the exact same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business as a whole viewed social networks like Facebook as a fresh 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 a few venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced so 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 genuinely capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The simple 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 individuals to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Obviously it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is training for them but it is training for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily imply that it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately searching for something so if they do a search for hairdressers that’s what they are looking for at that one time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is usually to get in touch with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks may be monetized in the exact same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from we have now to determine what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today “.Among the biggest problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they want from their social networking interactions with companies.” For instance in the present society people aren’t just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, therefore the old adage “what’s inside for me personally?” makes play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for reaching brands or business on social networking is to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people connect to them on social networking is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their list of reasoned explanations why people connect to them. Most businesses believe social networking increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.