Social Media appears to be the latest buzz word for anybody looking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are springing up just about everywhere these days and they are generally telling anyone who will listen regarding how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for that average small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networks really live up to all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on employing a SMM company well worth it? And has anyone really done their research about this before they hired someone to setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up such things as Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their customers they don’t need a website because Facebook will be the biggest social network on earth and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it could be factual that Facebook is definitely the largest social network on the planet you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is will they be actually buying? Social media companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social media like how many people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent last year and exactly how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you having the full picture? One time i sat close to a SMM “expert” in a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone that came within earshot regarding the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small enterprise (with him needless to say) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued through the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut i am, I made the decision to have a look into SMM in regards to selling to see if it genuinely worked, who did it work for and if it did why did social media apps work with them? And must business rely so heavily on social networking sites for sales?
Being a web developer I used to be constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential customers would say that possessing a website sounds good nevertheless they had a Facebook business page along with been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the thing to do, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear those prospective clients didn’t actually know why they needed social media sites or SMM to generate online sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I usually recommended creating a quality website over any sort of social networking, why? Well it’s simple really because social networking is Social Media, and social media sites are Social Networking Sites they are certainly not business media and business networks (that might be similar to LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true as well as the statistics support it. The reality is that social media marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is a social network not a search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way which they use a search engine like Google (which has around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They use it to connect with friends and family or perhaps for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social networking users stated which they usually do not engage with brands over social networking whatsoever and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to interact with brands. Now of all the those who use social media marketing and that do connect with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, many (66%) say they should feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website remains likely to provide you with much more business that social media marketing generally specifically if you certainly are a small to medium-sized small business because far more people are likely to type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don’t possess a website you’re missing out on all that potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still a good idea for business to utilize social media simply not in the same way that many SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the manner they claim it can. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall considered social networking sites like Facebook being a fresh market ripe for that picking so when 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 several venture capital firms are making investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced it had bought 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 did not truly capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers does not equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s interest to talk social networking sites up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s needs for people to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing with them? Obviously it is actually. At the begining of 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as the revenue which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is working out to them but it is exercising for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not always mean it never will.
I think the main distinction between social media sites and look engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s what they are trying to find at that particular time. With something such as Facebook the primary intent is generally to get in touch with family and friends. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks may be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engine Listings) did… In 3 years from now we have to figure out what 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 was “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they really want from their social networking interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not only going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, so the old adage “what’s in it to me?” comes into play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for interacting with brands or business on social networking dfrbnq to obtain discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social networking is to discover new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the list of main reasons why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.