Social Media Marketing seems to be the most recent 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 springing up throughout the place nowadays and they are telling anyone that may listen about how exactly incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the typical small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really surpass all the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research on this before they hired someone to setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are creating such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients they don’t need an internet site because Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and everybody has a Facebook account.
Now while it may be true that Facebook is the greatest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they actually buying? Social media marketing companies are typical too happy to point out the positives of social media like how many individuals use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were sent this past year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the full picture? I once sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a company seminar who was simply spruiking to anyone who came within earshot in regards to the amazing great things about creating 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 through to Facebook only to get he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the research nut that I’m, I decided to take a good consider SMM in regards to selling to see if it actually worked, who did it work for and when it did why did Social Media Marketing work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social support systems for sales?
As a net developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted by several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having an internet site sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social support systems were the action to take, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social support systems or SMM to generate online sales, They only wanted it. For small and medium-sized business I recommended creating a quality website over any kind of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that could be a lot more like LinkedIn). I understand 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 research engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way they make use of a se like Google (which has around half the se market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They use it to keep in touch with family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a current study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of most social media users stated that they don’t engage with brands over social media at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to talk with brands. Now out of all the individuals who do use social media and who do talk with brands whether purposefully or not, almost all (66%) say they should feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And is it even worth doing?
Well to begin with I’d say that having a well optimized website continues to be going to create you much more business that social media in most cases especially if you really are a small to medium-sized local business because far more folks will enter “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a research engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don’t have an internet site you’re passing up on all of that potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still advisable for business to make use of social media just not in the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, instagram panel Why? Because it’s clearly not in the direction they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general viewed social support systems 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 company (in June 2004) and since them several venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced that 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 seriously capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers does not equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Obviously it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as its revenue which will be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea 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 think the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately searching for something so when they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that one time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is usually to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems could be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In three years 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 support systems and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they want from their social media interactions with companies.” Like in today’s society people are not just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, therefore the old adage “what’s inside it for me personally?” has play. So the primary reason most people give for getting together with brands or business on social media is for discounts, the brands and business themselves think the key reason people talk with them on social media is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the list of reasons why people talk with them. Most businesses believe social media will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to get more innovative ways to connect with social media if they wish to see some type of derive from it. There were the right initiatives shown in the IBM study of companies that had gotten some type of a handle on the best way to use social media for their advantage, keeping in mind that after asked what they do when they talk with businesses or brands via social media, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the most effective two activities, respectively a U.S ice cream company called Cold Stone Creamery offered discounts on the products on the Facebook page. Alternatively there is a superb program launched by Best Buys in the U.S called Twelpforce where employees can react to customer’s questions via Twitter. With both Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the benefit is actually in the favour of the potential customer & the fantastic trick to social media marketing is to market without selling (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing is focused the wrong way.