Social Media Marketing appears to be the newest buzz word for anybody seeking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Networking (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 who will listen about how exactly incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going to your business but, for your average small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networks really live up to all the hype? Is spending a little fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research about this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things like Facebook business pages (that are free) for $600 to $one thousand or more and telling their clients that they don’t need to have a website because Facebook will be the biggest social networking on the planet and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the largest social media on earth you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question for you is are they actually buying? Social media companies are all too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like the number of people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent out a year ago and exactly how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the full picture? One time i sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone who came within earshot about the amazing benefits associated with setting up a Facebook business page for business (with him needless to say) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him high on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good beginning). So being the study nut i am, I decided to have a look into SMM when it comes to selling to see if it really worked, who made it happen benefit and in case it did why did social media advatages work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social media sites for sales?
As being a web developer I was constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social network challenges when potential clients would claim that having 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 networks were the thing to do, but after discussing their demands it became quite clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networking sites or SMM to generate 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 marketing is Social Media Marketing, and social Networks are Social Media Sites they are certainly not business media and business networks (that would 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 reality is that social media fails to tell you that Facebook is actually a social networking not a search engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner which they use a search engine like Google (that has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They utilize it to communicate with friends and family or perhaps for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social media users stated which they tend not to engage with brands over social media in any way and merely around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to interact with brands. Now of all the people who use social media and that do interact with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, many (66%) say they need to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will likely interact.
Well to begin with I might claim that having a well optimized website is still going to give you a lot more business that social networking typically specifically if you certainly are a small to medium-sized small business because a lot more people are going to type “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to they ever will on any Social Media Marketing Site and in case you don’t use a website you’re passing up on all of that potential business. However despite each of the (not good) statistics I still think it is still a wise idea for business to utilize social media just not in the same manner 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 overall looked at social media sites like Facebook being a fresh market ripe for the picking and once Facebook started getting users measured from the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% of the company (in June 2004) and also, since them several venture capital firms make investments into Facebook and then in October 2007, Microsoft announced it had bought a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers fails to equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s best interests for individuals to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Of course it is. During early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as its revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is working out to them but it is working out to suit your needs? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean which it never will.
In my opinion the key difference between social media sites and check engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a search for hairdressers that’s whatever they are searching for at that particular time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is generally to connect with relatives and buddies. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social media sites could be monetized in the same manner that search (Search Engine Listings) did… In 3 years from now we must evaluate which the optimum model is. But that is certainly 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 have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they really want from their social media interactions with companies.” As an 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 to me?” is necessary. So the main reason a lot of people give for getting together with brands or business on social networking dfrbnq to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people communicate with them on social media is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their list of reasons why people connect with them. Most businesses believe social media improves advocacy, but only 38 % of clients agree.