Social Media Marketing is apparently the most recent buzz word for anybody looking to increase 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 throughout the place today and they’re telling anyone that’ll listen about how precisely incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for the typical small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social networks really surpass all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things such as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or even more and telling their clients that they don’t really need a website because Facebook is the largest social network in the world and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the biggest 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 all too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like how many individuals use Facebook or how many tweets were delivered this past year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the total picture? I once sat close to a SMM “expert” at a small business seminar who was spruiking to anyone who came within earshot in regards to the amazing benefits of establishing a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the study nut that I’m, I decided to take a good consider SMM regarding selling to see if it really worked, who made it happen 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 with several social networking challenges when potential clients would claim that having a website sounds good but they’d a Facebook business page and have been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the thing to do, 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 medium-sized business I always recommended creating a quality website over any type of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media marketing is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that could be more like LinkedIn). smm panel I know that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. Truth be told that social media marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a cultural network not a search engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around the exact same, people don’t use Facebook in the exact same way they make use of a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They utilize it to help keep touching family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media marketing users stated that they cannot engage with brands over social media marketing at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to talk with brands. Now out of all of the individuals who do use social media marketing and who do talk with brands whether purposefully or not, almost all (66%) say they should feel a business is communicating honestly before they’ll interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And could it be even worth doing?
Well to begin with I’d claim that having a well optimized website is still going to create you far more business that social media marketing typically particularly if you certainly are a small to medium-sized local business because far more people will type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don’t have a website you’re missing out on all of this potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still recommended for business to make use of social media marketing not in the exact 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 as a whole looked at social networks like Facebook as a 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 few 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 until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to genuinely capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The stark reality is numbers does not 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 folks to trust that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Needless to say it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is training for them but it is training for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily show that it never will.
I believe the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately looking for something so when they do a search for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the primary intent is normally 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 exact same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from we now have to find out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today “.One of 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 worry about and what consumers say they need from their social media marketing interactions with companies.” As an example in today’s society people aren’t just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, therefore the old adage “what’s inside it for me?” comes into play. So the primary reason many people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing is for discounts, the brands and business themselves think the main reason people talk with them on social media marketing is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of explanations why people talk with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.