Social Media Marketing appears to be the most recent buzz word for anyone seeking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are springing up everywhere these days and they are generally telling anyone that will listen about how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for that average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social networking sites really live up to all of the hype? Is spending a little fortune on getting a SMM company worthy of it? And it 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 maybe more and telling their customers they don’t need to have a website because Facebook is definitely the biggest social network in the world and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it might be true that Facebook is the largest social media on the planet you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question is could they be actually buying? Social media companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social media like the amount of people use Facebook or the number of tweets were sent this past year and exactly how many people watch YouTube videos etc. however are you obtaining the full picture? I remember when i sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anybody who came within earshot about the amazing advantages of establishing a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him up on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good beginning). So being the investigation nut i am, I made the decision to take a look into SMM in regard to selling to see if it really worked, who made it happen work with and when it did why did social media sites work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social media sites for sales?
As being a web developer I had been constantly (and today increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when prospective clients would state that having a website sounds good nevertheless they had 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 requirements it became quite clear that individuals prospective clients didn’t actually know why they needed social media sites or SMM to produce online sales, They simply wanted it. For small, and mid-sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any sort of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social media marketing is Social Networking, and social media sites are Social Networks they are certainly not business media and business networks (that would be similar to LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true as well as the statistics back it up. The reality is that social networking fails to inform you that Facebook is actually a social media not a search engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in a similar manner they use the search engines like Google (which includes around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They normally use it to keep in touch with friends and relations or news and entertainment. In a recent study performed by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media marketing users stated that they 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 the many people who do use social media and that do interact with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they have to feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well first of all I might claim that having a well optimized website is still going to provide you with far more business that social media in most cases particularly if you certainly are a small to medium sized small business because a lot more people will type “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to what they ever will on any Social Media Marketing Site and if you don’t use a website you’re missing out on all that potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still a great idea for business to make use of social media marketing not in a similar manner that many SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly no longer working in how they promise it can. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked at social media sites like Facebook being a fresh market ripe for that 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 also, since them a couple of venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and then in October 2007, Microsoft announced that 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 did not truly capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The simple truth is numbers will not equal buyers. Is it in a Social Networking company’s interest to dicuss social networks up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Media like Facebook’s needs for folks to think that companies can sell en masse by marketing and advertising together? Needless to say it is actually. During early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the earlier year as its revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is training for them however it is working out for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean that it never will.
I believe the main difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately looking for something therefore if they do a search for hairdressers that’s whatever they are trying to find in that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the key intent is generally to connect with family and friends. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks may be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines Like Google) did… In three years from now we must determine what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the greatest problems business face with social networks 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 desire from their social media interactions with companies.” As an example in today’s society people are not just likely 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 inside it for me personally?” is needed. So the primary reason most people give for interacting with brands or business on social media marketing dfrbnq to receive discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the main reason people interact with them on social media is to discover new items. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the list of explanations why people connect with them. Most businesses believe social media improves advocacy, only 38 % of clients agree.