Social Media Marketing is apparently the most recent buzz word for anyone 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 actually springing up all over the place today and they’re telling anyone which will listen about how precisely incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the common small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networks really meet all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things such as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients which they don’t need a web site because Facebook is the biggest social network in the world and everybody includes 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 real question is are they actually buying? Social media marketing marketing companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like how many people use Facebook or just how many tweets were sent out a year ago and how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but have you been getting the full 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 advantages of establishing a Facebook business page for business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to get he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a great start). So being the research nut that I’m, I decided to take a good explore 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 website developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having a web 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 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 just wanted it. For small and mid-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 would be a lot 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 inform you that Facebook is a social 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 which they make use of 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 in touch with family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of most social media marketing users stated that they do not 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 people who do use social media marketing and who do interact with brands whether purposefully or not, most (66%) say they have to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how will you use social media marketing marketing? And is it even worth doing?
Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website continues to be going to create you much more business that social media marketing typically especially if you certainly are a small to mid-sized local business because far more individuals are going to type 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 web site you’re missing out on all of this potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still recommended for business to utilize social media marketing just not in exactly the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not employed in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business all together 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 up to now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to believe that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? 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 which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is training for them but it’s training for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that doesn’t necessarily show that it never will.
I believe the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately searching for something so if they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that specific time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is generally for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks can be monetized in exactly the same way that search (Search Engines) did.. acheter des vues . In three years from we now 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 networks and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they desire from their social media marketing interactions with companies.
For 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 it, and so the old adage “what’s inside it for me?” comes into play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for reaching brands or business on social media marketing is to get discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people interact with them on social media marketing is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of explanations why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to get more innovative ways for connecting with social media marketing if they would like to see some kind of be a consequence of it. There were some good initiatives shown in the IBM study of companies that had gotten some kind of a handle on the best way to use social media marketing for their advantage, remember that when asked what they do once they interact with businesses or brands via social media marketing, 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 their products on their Facebook page. Alternatively there is a great 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 advantage is clearly in the favour of the potential customer & the truly amazing trick to social media marketing marketing is to offer 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 not easy and the absolute most benefit to business’ using social media marketing to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ have to realize that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and expect the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers have to see value in what you have to offer via your social media marketing efforts let them have something worth their social interaction and time and then you may get better results.