Social Media Marketing seems to be the most recent buzz word for anyone looking to increase 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 throughout the place nowadays and they are telling anyone which will 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 support systems really live up to most of 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 setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients which they don’t need an internet site 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 largest social network in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question is are they really buying? Social media marketing companies are all too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like how many individuals use Facebook or just how many tweets were sent out last year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but have you been getting the full picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was simply spruiking to anyone who came within earshot concerning the amazing great things about establishing a Facebook business page for small company (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “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 chose to have a good explore SMM in regard to selling to see if it actually worked, who achieved 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 claim that having an internet site sounds good but they’d a Facebook business page and have been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “cheapest panel 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 developing a quality website over any kind of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media marketing is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that could be more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up.
The fact is that social media marketing marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a cultural network not a search engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being around the exact same, people don’t use Facebook in the exact same way which they work with a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They use it to help keep in touch with family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of most social media marketing users stated that they do not 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 those who do use social media marketing and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they have to feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social media marketing marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well first of all I’d claim that having a well optimized website remains going to bring you far more business that social media marketing typically particularly if you really 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 an internet site you’re passing up on all of the potential business. However despite most of the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still recommended for business to make use of social media marketing simply not in the exact same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not employed in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business all together 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 company (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 to now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to seriously capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The reality 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 people to trust that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Needless to say it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as its revenue that will be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is working out for them but it is working out for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily imply that it never will.
I believe the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that specific time. With something such as Facebook the primary intent is generally to get in touch with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems may be monetized in the exact same way that search (Search Engines) did… In three years from now we 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. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they want from their social media marketing interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people aren’t 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 in it for me?” has play. So the primary reason most people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing is to receive discounts, the brands and business themselves think the main reason people connect to them on social media marketing is to understand about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their list 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 to get in touch with social media marketing if they wish to see some kind of be a consequence of it. There have been some good initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some kind of a handle on how to use social media marketing to their advantage, bearing in mind that whenever asked what they do if they connect to businesses or brands via social media marketing, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the very best 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 answer customer’s questions via Twitter. With both Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the benefit is actually in the favour of the potential customer & the truly amazing trick to social media marketing marketing is to offer without trying to sell (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing marketing is focused the wrong way.