Social Media Marketing appears to be the latest buzz word proper looking to boost 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 all over the place nowadays and they’re telling anyone that will listen about how precisely incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for the common small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really meet all of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company worthy of 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 setting up things such as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients they don’t need a web site because Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and everybody features a Facebook account.
Now while it might be true that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real 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 people use Facebook or just how many tweets were delivered last year and how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but have you been getting the total picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a company seminar who was simply spruiking to anybody who came within earshot about the amazing great things about 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 on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut that I am, I made a decision to take a good explore SMM in regards to selling to see if it actually worked, who made it happen work for and if 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) met with several social networking challenges when potential clients would claim that having a web site sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and have 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 just wanted it. For small and mid-sized business I usually recommended building a quality website over any type of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is instagram panel Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that would be a lot more like LinkedIn). I understand that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up.
The fact is that social media marketing fails to share with you that Facebook is a social 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 they use a se like Google (which has around half the se market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They utilize it to keep in touch with family and friends or 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 do not engage with brands over social media at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to connect to brands. Now out of all those who do use social media and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or not, most (66%) say they should feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how will you use social media marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well to start with I’d claim that having a well optimized website continues to be going to bring you much more business that social media generally especially if you really are a small to mid-sized local business because far more folks are going to enter “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and in the event that you don’t have a web site you’re missing out on all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still recommended for business to make use of social media simply not in the exact same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business as a whole looked over 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 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 genuinely capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The simple truth is numbers does not equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for individuals to believe that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Of course 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 training for them but it is training for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that will 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 search for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the principal intent is usually for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems could be monetized in the exact same way that search (Search Engines) did… In three years from we now have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that’s 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 were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they want from their social media interactions with companies.” As an example 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?” makes play. So the principal reason most people give for getting together with brands or business on social media is to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the key reason people connect to them on social media is to understand about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the listing of explanations why people connect to them. Most businesses believe social media will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to find more innovative ways for connecting with social media if they would like to see some kind of be a consequence of it. There have been good quality initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some kind of a handle on how best to use social media with their advantage, bearing in mind that when asked what they do when they connect to businesses or brands via social media, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the utmost 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 great program launched by Best Buys in the U.S called Twelpforce where employees can respond 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 truly amazing trick to social media marketing is to sell without attempting to sell (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing is focused the incorrect way.
Building a concrete buyer to consumer relationship via social media is difficult and the most benefit to business’ using social media to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ have to understand that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and hope for the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers have to see value in everything you have to offer via your social media efforts provide them with something worth their social interaction and time and then you can find better results.