Social Media Marketing seems to be the most recent buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked as much as be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all over the place today and they’re telling anyone that’ll listen about how precisely incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your organization but, for the common small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networks really meet all the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company well worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things like 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 greatest social network in the world and everybody has a Facebook account.
Now while it may be true that Facebook is the greatest social network in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question is are they actually buying? Social networking marketing companies are typical too happy to indicate the positives of social media like how many individuals use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were sent out a year ago and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you currently getting the total picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a small business seminar who was spruiking to anybody 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 the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him up on Facebook only to locate he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut that I am, I decided to take a good explore SMM in regard 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 networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted by several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having a website sounds good but they’d a Facebook business page and had 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, They only wanted it. For small and mid-sized business I always recommended building a quality website over almost any social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that would be 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 fails to tell you that Facebook is a cultural network not a search 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 work with 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 touching family and friends and 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 cannot 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 of the individuals who do use social media and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or not, most (66%) say they should feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how will you use social media marketing? And could it be even worth doing?
Well to start with I would say that having a well optimized website remains going to bring you a lot more business that social media typically especially if you are a small to mid-sized local business because far more individuals are likely to key in “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 website you’re missing out on all of this potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still recommended for business to make use of social media not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not employed in the direction they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business as a whole looked over social networks 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 organization (in June 2004) and since them a couple of 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 genuinely capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The fact remains numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for people to trust that companies can followers pas cher sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Obviously it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous 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 working out for them but it’s working out for you? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily mean that it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a seek out hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that particular time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is normally to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks may be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months 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 networks and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they desire from their social media interactions with companies.
Like 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 this, so the old adage “what’s inside for me?” has play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for getting together with brands or business on social media is for discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people connect to them on social media is to master 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 increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to locate more innovative ways to connect with social media if they would like to see some kind of result from it. There were some great initiatives shown in the IBM study of companies that had gotten some kind of a handle on how best to use social media with their advantage, bearing in mind that after asked what they do if they connect to businesses or brands via social media, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the most truly effective 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 superb 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 power is actually in the favour of the potential customer & the fantastic trick to social media marketing is to offer without trying 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 challenging and essentially the most benefit to business’ using social media to enhance their websites Google rankings. But business’ need to understand 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 everything you have to provide via your social media efforts give them something worth their social interaction and time and then you may get better results.