Social Media Marketing appears to be the newest buzz word proper looking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked around be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up throughout the place these days and they’re telling anyone which will listen about how incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for the common small to medium sized business, does marketing to social networks really meet all of 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 set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are creating such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients that they don’t need a website because Facebook is the largest social network on earth and everybody includes a Facebook account.
Now while it might be true that Facebook is the biggest social network on earth and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they actually buying? Social networking marketing companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like how lots of people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent out last year and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but have you been getting the full picture? I once sat close to a SMM “expert” at a small business seminar who had been spruiking to anybody who came within earshot about the amazing benefits of creating a Facebook business page for business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him up on Facebook only to find he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a great start). So being the investigation nut that I am, I decided to take a good consider SMM regarding 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 networks for sales?
As a website 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 have been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks 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 networks or SMM to generate online sales, smm panel They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I 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 could be 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 marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a social network not a research engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way that they make use of a internet search engine like Google (which has around half the internet search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They use it to keep touching 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 talk with brands. Now out of all those who do use social media marketing and who do talk with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how will you use social media marketing marketing? And could it be even worth doing?
Well first of all I’d say that having a well optimized website is still going to create you much more business that social media marketing in most cases especially if you certainly are a small to medium sized local business because far more individuals are likely to enter “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a research 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 website you’re missing all of this potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still advisable for business to make use of social media marketing simply not in the 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 at social networks 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. Can it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Can it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for people to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing with 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 which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is training for them but it’s training for you? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily signify it never will.
I believe the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately looking for something so if they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are looking for at that specific time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is usually for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks could be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from we now have to determine what the optimum model is. But that’s not our primary focus today” ;.One of many biggest problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. In line with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they need from their social media marketing interactions with companies.” As an example in today’s society people are not just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, therefore the old adage “what’s in it for me personally?” has play. So the primary reason many people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing is to get discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people talk with them on social media marketing is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the set of reasons why people talk with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to find more innovative ways for connecting with social media marketing if they wish to see some type of result from it. There have been good quality initiatives shown in the IBM study of companies that had gotten some type of a handle on how best to use social media marketing for their advantage, remember that when asked what they do once they talk with businesses or brands via social media marketing, 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 marketing is to market without selling (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing marketing is focused the wrong way.
Building a real buyer to consumer relationship via social media marketing is challenging and essentially the most benefit to business’ using social media marketing to enhance their websites Google rankings. But business’ need certainly to understand that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and expect the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers need certainly to see value in everything you have to offer via your social media marketing efforts provide them with something worth their social interaction and time and then you may get better results.