Social Media Marketing seems to be the most recent 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 around the place nowadays and they are telling anyone that’ll listen about how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the typical small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really surpass all of the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research on this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients they don’t need a website because Facebook is the biggest social network on earth and everybody includes a Facebook account.
Now while it could 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 all too happy to point out the positives of social networking like how lots of people use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were sent this past year and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the entire picture? I once sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a company seminar who was spruiking to anybody who came within earshot about the amazing advantages of establishing a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the investigation nut that I’m, I made a decision to take a good consider SMM in regard to selling to see if it actually worked, who made it happen work for and when 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 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 support systems were the move to make, 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 medium-sized business I always recommended creating a quality website over any type of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social networking is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they are 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. Truth be told that social networking marketing fails to tell you that Facebook is a cultural network not a search engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around exactly the same, people don’t use Facebook in exactly the same way they use 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 keep touching family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of most social networking users stated that they cannot engage with brands over social networking at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to connect to brands. Now out of all those who do use social networking and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they have to feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how will you use social networking marketing? And could it be even worth doing?
Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website remains going to create you much more business that social networking generally particularly if you really are a small to medium-sized local business because far more individuals are going 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 if you don’t have a website you’re missing all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still advisable for business to utilize social networking just not in exactly the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not employed in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business as a whole looked at social support systems 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 so 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 truly capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. acheter des likes The reality is numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Can it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Can it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to trust 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 concept of SMM is training for them but it is training for you? Well… statistically no, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it never will.
I believe the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. People 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 specific time. With something similar to Facebook the principal intent is normally for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems could be monetized in exactly the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In three years from now we 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. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they desire from their social networking interactions with companies.
As an example 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, therefore the old adage “what’s inside it for me personally?” has play. So the principal reason many people give for interacting with brands or business on social networking is to get discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people connect to them on social networking is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the listing of reasoned explanations why people connect to them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to find more innovative ways for connecting with social networking if they wish to see some type of result from it. There were some great initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some type of a handle on the best way to use social networking for their advantage, keeping in mind that whenever asked what they do if they connect to businesses or brands via social networking, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the top 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 good 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 obviously in the favour of the potential customer & the great trick to social networking marketing is to offer without selling (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social networking marketing is focused the wrong way.
Building a concrete buyer to consumer relationship via social networking is challenging and one of the most benefit to business’ using social networking to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ need to realize that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and expect the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers need to see value in that which you have to offer via your social networking efforts let them have something worth their social interaction and time and then you might get better results.