Social Media Marketing is apparently the newest buzz word proper looking to boost their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked as much as be?
S.M.M companies are now actually springing up all over the place nowadays and they’re telling anyone that will listen about how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the common small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networks really surpass all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company worthy of 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 setting up things like Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients that they don’t need a website because Facebook is the largest 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 indicate the positives of social networking like how lots of people use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were delivered last year and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you currently getting the total picture? I once sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone who came within earshot about the amazing advantages of setting up 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 an excellent start). So being the study nut that I’m, I decided to take a good explore SMM in regard to selling to see if it actually worked, who achieved it benefit and when it did why did Social Media Marketing benefit them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a website developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted by several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having a website sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the move to make, 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 just wanted it. For small and mid-sized business I usually recommended creating a quality website over almost any 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 would be a lot more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. Truth be told that social networking marketing fails to share with you that Facebook is a social network not a search engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way they use a internet search engine like Google (which has around half the internet search engine market), smm panel Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They put it to use to help keep in touch with family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a current study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social networking users stated that they do not engage with brands over social networking at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to talk with brands. Now out of all people who do use social networking and who do talk with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how will you use social networking marketing? And is it even worth doing?
Well to start with I’d say that having a well optimized website continues to be going to bring you much more business that social networking in most cases especially if you are a small to mid-sized local business because far more individuals are going to enter “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if there isn’t a website you’re missing all of the potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still recommended for business to make use of social networking just not in the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not employed in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked over 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 business (in June 2004) and since them a couple of 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 until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to seriously capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The simple truth is numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Can it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Can it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for individuals to trust that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Of course it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as its revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is exercising for them but it’s exercising for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean that it never will.
I believe the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately looking for something so should they do a seek out hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that specific time. With something similar to Facebook the primary intent is usually for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks could be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from we now have 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. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they want from their social networking interactions with companies.” Like in the current society people are not just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, therefore the old adage “what’s in it for me?” makes play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for reaching brands or business on social networking is to get discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people talk with them on social networking is to understand about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the set of reasons why people talk with them. Most businesses believe social networking increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.