Social Media Marketing is apparently the newest buzz word for everyone trying to enhance 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 everywhere today and they are generally telling anybody that will listen regarding how incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going to your small business but, for that average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social media sites really live up to all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company well worth it? And it has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are putting together things such as Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $1,000 or even more and telling their clientele that they don’t require a website because Facebook is the biggest social networking on the planet and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it might be true that Facebook is the largest social media on earth you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question for you is will they be actually buying? Social networking companies are common too happy to indicate the positives of social networking like the number of people use Facebook or the amount of tweets were sent last year and exactly how many people watch YouTube videos etc. however are you getting the full picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” with a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone who came within earshot about the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small enterprise (with him needless to say) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued through the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him up on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the research nut i am, I chose to take a good look into SMM in regards to selling to see if it genuinely worked, who did it benefit and if it did why did social media apps work for them? And must business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I used to be constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would state that possessing a website sounds good but they enjoyed a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networking sites were the action to take, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear that individuals prospective clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networks or SMM to create online sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I always recommended creating a quality website over any sort of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networking Sites they are not business media and business networks (that might be similar to LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true and also the statistics support it. The reality is that social media fails to let you know that Facebook is really a social network not a search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being round the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way which they use a search engine like Google (which includes around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They use it to keep in touch with friends and relations or for news and entertainment. In a recent study carried out by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social networking users stated which they usually do not engage with brands over social media marketing at all and merely around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to interact with brands. Now out of all the individuals who use social networking and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, most (66%) say they have to feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well to start with I would say that using a well optimized website is still planning to give you much more business that social networking in most cases especially if you certainly are a small to medium-sized small business because much more people will type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine 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 all the (not good) statistics I still think it is still a great idea for business to make use of social networking just not in the same way that the majority of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general checked out social media sites like Facebook as being a fresh market ripe for your picking and once Facebook started getting users measured through the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% from the company (in June 2004) and since them a couple of venture capital firms make investments into Facebook as well as in October 2007, Microsoft announced which it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have neglected to truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers fails to equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s interest to dicuss social media sites up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s needs for folks to think 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 last year as the revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is exercising to them but it is working out for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean it never will.
I believe the main difference between social networking sites and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately looking for something therefore if they do a search for hairdressers that’s what they are looking for in that particular time. With something such as 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 can be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from now we need to evaluate which the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the primary 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 value and what consumers say they want from their social media interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not just going to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, therefore the old adage “what’s within it for me?” is needed. So the main reason most people give for getting together with brands or business on social media dfrbnq to obtain discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the main reason people interact with them on social media marketing is to learn about new releases. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their own list of reasons why people connect with them. Most businesses believe social media improves advocacy, only 38 % of clients agree.