Social Media Marketing is apparently the most recent buzz word for everyone trying to enhance their online presence and sales, but is Social Networking (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are springing up all over the place nowadays and they are generally telling anyone who will listen about how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube will be to your company but, for the average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social networks really meet all the hype? Is spending a little fortune on employing a SMM company worthy of it? And contains anyone really done their research on this before they hired someone to put together there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clientele which they don’t need to have a website because Facebook is definitely the biggest social media on the planet and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it could be true that Facebook will be the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they actually buying? Social media companies are all too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like the amount of people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent a year ago and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. however are you having the full picture? One time i sat next to a SMM “expert” with a business seminar who has been spruiking to anyone that came within earshot regarding the amazing advantages of establishing 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 on Facebook only to discover 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 when it comes to selling to find out if it really worked, who made it happen work with and if it did why did top 10 social media sites work with them? And really should business rely so heavily on social media sites for sales?
As being a web developer I used to be constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social network challenges when prospective clients would say that possessing a website sounds good however they had a Facebook business page along with been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social media 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 media sites or SMM to generate online sales, They simply wanted it. For small, and medium sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any type of social networking, why? Well it’s simple really because social networking is Social Networking, and social networking sites are Social Media Sites they are not business media and business networks (that would be a lot more like LinkedIn). I am aware that sounds simple but it’s true and also the statistics support it. The truth is social networking fails to inform you that Facebook is really a social network not an internet search engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner that they use the search engines like Google (that has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They utilize it to connect with friends and relations or for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all the social media users stated they usually do not engage with brands over social media marketing at all and just around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to have interaction with brands. Now of all the those who do use social media and who do connect with brands whether purposefully or otherwise, most (66%) say they should feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well to begin with I would claim that having a well optimized website is still likely to give you far more business that social media in most cases especially if you are a small to mid-sized local company because much more people are going to type “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 passing up on all that potential business. However despite all the (not good) statistics I still believe it is still a great idea for business to make use of social media just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly no longer working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall checked out social networking sites like Facebook as a fresh market ripe for that picking so when 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 since them several venture capital firms make investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced which it had obtained a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have did not truly capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers does not equal buyers. Will it be in a Social Media company’s welfare to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for individuals to believe that companies can sell en masse by marketing and advertising together? Of course it is. At the begining of 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the earlier year as the revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is working out for them yet it is working out for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean it never will.
I think the main distinction between social media sites and look engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s what they are trying to find at that particular time. With something like Facebook the main intent is generally to get in touch with family and friends. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networking sites can be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engines) did… In three years from now we must figure out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the biggest problems business face with social media sites and SMM is perception. Based on 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 off their social media marketing interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not only going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, so the old adage “what’s within it to me?” comes into play. So the main reason most people give for getting together with brands or business on social media dfrbnq to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social media is to discover new items. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of explanations why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social networking improves advocacy, only 38 % of clients agree.