Social Media seems to be the most recent buzz word for anybody trying to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up everywhere nowadays and they are generally telling anyone that will listen regarding how incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going to your business but, for the average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social media sites really fulfill each of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on getting a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are putting together such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their customers that they don’t require a website because Facebook will be the biggest social network in the world and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it could be correct that Facebook is the largest social networking on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual real question is are they actually buying? Social media companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like the number of people use Facebook or the amount of tweets were sent out a year ago and exactly how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. however are you obtaining the full picture? One time i sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone who came within earshot concerning the amazing benefits of establishing a Facebook business page for 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 start). So being the study nut which i am, I chose to take a look into SMM when it comes to selling to determine if it actually worked, who made it happen benefit and in case it did why did social media marketing benefit them? And must business rely so heavily on social networking sites for sales?
Being a web developer I had been constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would state that having a website sounds good however they experienced a Facebook business page along with 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 potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social media sites or SMM to produce online sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any type of social networking, why? Well it’s simple really because social networking is Social Media Marketing, and social media sites are Social Networks they are certainly not business media and business networks (that could be similar to LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true and also the statistics support it. The fact is that social media marketing fails to let you know that Facebook is really a social media not an internet search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner which they use the search engines like Google (which includes around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They utilize it to connect with friends and relations or perhaps for news and entertainment. In a recent study carried out by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all the social media marketing users stated that they tend not to engage with brands over social networking whatsoever and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to interact with brands. Now of all the people who do use social networking and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or not, many (66%) say they need to feel a business is communicating honestly before they will likely interact.
Well to start with I would personally state that using a well optimized website is still planning to provide you with a lot more business that social media marketing generally specifically if you really are a small to mid-sized local business because far more people will key in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Marketing Site and in case you don’t possess a website you’re missing out on all of that potential business. However despite each of the (not too good) statistics I still believe it is still a wise idea for business to utilize social media marketing simply not in a similar manner that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall looked at social media sites like Facebook as a fresh market ripe for the picking so when Facebook started getting users measured from 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 in October 2007, Microsoft announced which it had bought 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 variety of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers fails to equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Media company’s interest to talk social media sites up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Networking like Facebook’s best interests for people to believe that companies can sell en masse by marketing and advertising along with them? Needless to say it is actually. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is exercising on their behalf but it is exercising to suit your needs? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean it never will.
In my opinion the major difference between social networking sites and check engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately looking for something therefore if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for in that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the key intent is normally to get in touch with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social media sites may be monetized in the same manner that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from now we have to evaluate which the optimum model is. But which is not our primary focus today”. One of the primary problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. In accordance 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 interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not only 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?” is needed. So the main reason many people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing dfrbnq to get discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social media is to discover new items. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of main reasons why people connect with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing improves advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.