Social Media is apparently the latest buzz word for anyone trying to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Networking (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are actually springing up all over the place today and they are generally telling anyone who will listen about how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for that average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social media sites really meet all the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on employing a SMM company worthy of it? And it has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things like Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $one thousand or maybe more and telling their clientele which they don’t need a website because Facebook is definitely the biggest social network on earth and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it may be correct that Facebook is definitely the largest social networking on earth and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question for you is will they be actually buying? Social media companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media marketing like the number of people use Facebook or the amount of tweets were sent a year ago and exactly how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but they are you having the full picture? One time i sat next to a SMM “expert” in a business seminar who has been spruiking to anyone that came within earshot regarding the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small enterprise (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued from the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to discover he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut i am, I decided to take a look into SMM when it comes to selling to determine if it actually worked, who did it benefit and in case it did why did top 10 social media sites work for them? And really should business rely so heavily on social networking sites for sales?
As being a web developer I had been constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social media challenges when potential customers would say that having a website sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networking sites were the move to make, but after discussing their demands it became quite clear that individuals prospective clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networks or SMM to create online sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I usually recommended constructing a quality website over any sort of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social media sites are Social Media Sites they are not business media and business networks (that could be a lot more like LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true and also the statistics support it. The truth is social networking fails to tell you that Facebook is a social media not a search engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in a similar manner which they use the search engines like Google (which includes around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They utilize it to communicate with friends and relations or for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all the social networking users stated they do not engage with brands over social networking whatsoever and just around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to have interaction with brands. Now of the many those who use social networking and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or otherwise, many (66%) say they should feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will likely interact.
Well to begin with I would personally say that having a well optimized website remains planning to bring you far more business that social media marketing generally particularly if you certainly are a small to medium-sized small business because far more people are likely to key in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to what they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don’t have a website you’re passing up on all that potential business. However despite all of the (not too good) statistics I still believe it is still a wise idea for business to make use of social media just not in the same way that the majority 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 checked out social networks like Facebook as being a fresh market ripe for the picking and when Facebook started getting users measured through the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% of the company (in June 2004) and since them a few venture capital firms are making investments into Facebook and then in October 2007, Microsoft announced it had obtained 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 did not truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The simple truth is numbers will not equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s welfare to speak social networks up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s needs for people to believe that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing along with them? Obviously it is. At the begining of 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the earlier year as its revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is working out to them however it is exercising for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean that it never will.
I think the major distinction between social networking sites and look engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately looking for something therefore if they do a search for hairdressers that’s whatever they are searching for at that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the key intent is usually to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networking sites can be monetized in a similar manner that search (Search Engines) did… In three years from now we need to figure out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the biggest problems business face with social media sites and SMM is perception. In accordance with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there was “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they really want using their social media marketing interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not only likely to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, so the old adage “what’s within it for me?” is needed. So the main reason a lot of people give for getting together with brands or business on social media marketing dfrbnq to obtain discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people connect with them on social media marketing is to discover new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of reasons why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.