Social Media Marketing is apparently the latest buzz word for anybody looking to boost their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked around be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all around the place today and they’re telling anyone that may listen about how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your organization but, for the average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really meet most of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company worthy of it? And has anyone really done their research on this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up 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 need a web site because Facebook is the greatest social network on earth and everybody has a Facebook account.
Now while it could be true that Facebook is the largest social network on earth and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they actually buying? Social media marketing companies are all too happy to point out the positives of social media like how lots of people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent last year and how lots of people watch acheter des abonnés YouTube videos etc. but are you currently getting the total picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was simply spruiking to anybody who came within earshot in regards to the amazing great things about setting up 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’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut that I am, I chose to take a good look into SMM regarding selling to see if it actually worked, who did it benefit and when it did why did Social Media Marketing benefit them? And should business rely so heavily on social support systems for sales?
As a net 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 had a Facebook business page and have been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social support systems were the thing to do, 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 usually recommended creating 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 could be a lot more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. Truth be told that social media marketing fails to share with you that Facebook is a social network not a research engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way that they use a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They put it to use to help 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 media users stated that they cannot engage with brands over social media at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to interact with brands. Now out of all individuals who do use social media and who do interact with brands whether purposefully or not, most (66%) say they need to feel a business is communicating honestly before they’ll interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well to begin with I would say that having a well optimized website remains going to bring you a lot more business that social media generally especially if you certainly are a small to medium-sized local business because far more people are likely to key in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a research 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 the potential business. However despite most of the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still recommended for business to make use of social media simply not in 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 all together viewed 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 up until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to seriously capitalise on the huge amount of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers does not equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing with them? Of course 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 training for them but it’s training for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily signify it never will.
I think the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately looking for something so if they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are looking for at that specific time. With something like Facebook the principal intent is normally to get in touch with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems can be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In four years from now we have to find out what the optimum model is. But that’s not our primary focus today” ;.One of many biggest problems business face with social support systems and SMM is perception. In line with 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 interactions with companies.
As an example in today’s society people are not just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, and so the old adage “what’s inside for me?” makes play. So the principal reason most people give for reaching brands or business on social media is for discounts, the brands and business themselves think the main reason people interact with them on social media is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the list of reasoned explanations why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to get more innovative ways to get in touch with social media if they would like to see some kind of derive from it. There were good quality initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some kind of a handle on the best way to use social media for their advantage, keeping in mind that whenever asked what they do once they interact with businesses or brands via social media, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the most effective 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 answer customer’s questions via Twitter. With both Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the benefit is clearly in the favour of the potential customer & the truly amazing trick to social media marketing is to sell without attempting 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 difficult and the absolute most benefit to business’ using social media to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ have to recognize 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 that which you have to offer via your social media efforts provide them with something worth their social interaction and time and then you can find better results.