Social Media Marketing seems to be the latest buzz word for anyone looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all around the place today and they’re telling anyone that’ll listen about how exactly incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for the typical 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 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 creating such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or even more and telling their clients that they don’t really need an internet site because Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question is are they actually buying? Social media marketing companies are typical too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like how many people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent out last year and how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but have you been getting the entire picture? I once sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a company seminar who was simply 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 through to Facebook only to get he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut that I am, I chose to have a good look into SMM in regards to selling to see if it really worked, who did it benefit and if it did why did Social Media Marketing benefit them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having an internet site 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 move to make, 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 only wanted it. For small and medium sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any kind of 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 would be more like LinkedIn). I realize 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 cultural network not a search engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way they make use of a internet search engine like Google (which has around half the internet search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They put it to use to keep in touch with family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a current 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 interact with brands. Now out of all of the those who do use social media marketing and who do interact with brands whether purposefully or not, almost all (66%) say they have to 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 first of all I’d say that having a well optimized website remains going to bring you a lot more business that social media marketing typically especially if you really are a small to medium sized local business because far more individuals will enter “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if there isn’t an internet site you’re missing out on all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still a good idea for business to utilize social media marketing just not in the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general 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 truly capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The stark reality is numbers does not 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 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 previous year as its revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is training for them but it’s training for you? Well… statistically no, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately searching for something so should they do a seek out hairdressers that’s what they are seeking at that particular time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is usually to connect 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 three years from we now have to find out 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. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they need from their social media marketing interactions with companies.” For example in today’s society people aren’t just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, so the old adage “what’s inside it for me?” makes play. So the primary reason most people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing is to get discounts, the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people interact with them on social media marketing is to understand about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of reasons why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.