Social Media is apparently the newest buzz word for anyone looking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Networking (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all over the place these days and they are telling anyone who will listen regarding how incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going to your business but, for your average small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social media sites really meet all the hype? Is spending a little fortune on employing a SMM company worthy of it? And contains anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are putting together things such as Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $1,000 or even more and telling their customers that they don’t need to have a website because Facebook will be the biggest social media in the world and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it might be correct that Facebook is the largest social networking in the world you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual real question is could they be actually buying? Social networking companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like the amount of people use Facebook or the number of tweets were sent a year ago and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. however are you having the full picture? I remember when i sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone that came within earshot about the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued through the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him high on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good beginning). So being the investigation nut i am, I made the decision to have a look into SMM in regard to selling to see if it genuinely worked, who did it benefit and in case it did why did social media sites benefit them? And really should business rely so heavily on social networking sites for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and today increasingly) confronted with several social network challenges when prospective clients would say that having a website sounds good nevertheless they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the move to make, but after discussing their requirements 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 medium-sized business I usually recommended constructing a quality website over any type of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social media marketing is Social Networking, and social networking sites are Social Networking Sites they are not business media and business networks (that would be more like LinkedIn). I understand that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics support it. The fact is that social media marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is really a social network not an internet search engine and despite the quantity of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner they use a search engine like Google (that has around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They use it to keep in touch with family and friends or news and entertainment. In a recent study carried out by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media users stated they do not engage with brands over social media marketing at all and just around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to interact with brands. Now of the many people who do use social media and who do connect with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, the majority (66%) say they should feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well first of all I would state that possessing a well optimized website remains likely to give you a lot more business that social media marketing generally specifically if you are a small to medium-sized local company because far more people are likely to key in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to what they ever will on any Social Media Site and when you don’t possess a website you’re missing out on all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still a great idea for business to utilize social media marketing not in the same way that the majority of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in how they promise it can. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall checked out social networking sites like Facebook being a fresh market ripe for the picking and once 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 few venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook as well as in October 2007, Microsoft announced 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 did not truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers will not equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Networking company’s interest to speak social networks up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s needs for folks to imagine that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing along with them? Obviously it is actually. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as the revenue which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is exercising to them however it is exercising for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean which it never will.
I think the major difference between social media sites and check engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately searching for something so if they do a search for hairdressers that’s the things they are searching for in that particular time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is generally to get in touch with relatives and buddies. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks could be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engines) did… In 3 years from now we must evaluate which the optimum model is. But that is certainly not our primary focus today”. One of the greatest problems business face with social networking sites and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they want using their social media marketing interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not just likely to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for this, therefore the old adage “what’s within it to me?” is needed. So the main reason most people give for interacting with brands or business on social media dfrbnq to receive discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the main reason people communicate with them on social networking is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their own list of main reasons why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.