Social Media Promotion, Truth of the matter plus Can be found

Social Media Marketing appears to be the latest buzz word for anyone looking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked around be?

S.M.M companies are actually springing up all over the place nowadays and they’re telling anyone that may listen about how exactly incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social support systems really meet 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 setting up things such as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients they don’t need a website because Facebook is the largest social network on the planet and everybody includes a Facebook account.

Now while it might be true that Facebook is the greatest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they really buying? Social networking marketing companies are typical too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like how many people use Facebook or how many tweets were delivered a year ago and how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the entire picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anybody 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 these “experts” advice I looked him up on Facebook only to locate he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the research nut that I’m, I made a decision to have a good consider SMM regarding 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 support systems for sales?

As a net developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with 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 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 usually recommended creating a quality website over almost any 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 will be a lot more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up.

The truth is that social media marketing marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a cultural network not a research engine and despite the amount of 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), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They utilize it to help keep in touch with family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all 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 connect to brands. Now out of all of the people who do use social media marketing and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or not, almost all (66%) say they need to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.

So how do you use social media marketing marketing? And is it even worth doing?

Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website remains going to create you much more business that social media marketing generally especially if you certainly are a small to medium sized local business because far more individuals are going to type in “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 a website you’re missing out on all of this potential business. smm panel However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still recommended for business to make use of social media marketing just not in the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not employed in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked over social support systems like Facebook as a fresh 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 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 failed to truly capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers doesn’t 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 trust that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing with them? Of course it is. In 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 but it is training for you? Well… statistically no, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that it never will.

I think the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately looking for something so should they do a search for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that one time. With something like Facebook the principal intent is normally for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems may be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In four years from now we have to find out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today” ;.One of many biggest problems business face with social support systems and SMM is perception. In line with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they desire from their social media marketing interactions with companies.” Like in today’s society people aren’t just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, so the old adage “what’s inside it for me?” comes into play. So the principal reason a lot of people give for reaching brands or business on social media marketing is to get discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people connect to them on social media marketing is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their listing of reasons why people connect to them. Most businesses believe social media marketing increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.

Companies need to locate more innovative ways for connecting with social media marketing if they wish to see some kind of derive from it. There were some great initiatives shown in the IBM study of companies that had gotten some kind of a handle on the best way to use social media marketing for their advantage, keeping in mind that when asked what they do once they connect to businesses or brands via social media marketing, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the top two activities, respectively a U.S ice cream company called Cold Stone Creamery offered discounts on their products on their Facebook page. Alternatively there is a good 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 advantage is obviously in the favour of the potential customer & the fantastic trick to social media marketing marketing is to market without trying to sell (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing marketing is focused the wrong way.

Building a tangible buyer to consumer relationship via social media marketing is not easy and probably the most benefit to business’ using social media marketing to enhance their websites Google rankings. But business’ need to recognize that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and hope for the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers need to see value in what you have to offer via your social media marketing efforts let them have something worth their social interaction and time and then you might get better results.

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