Social Media Marketing seems to be the newest buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked around be?
S.M.M companies are now actually springing up all around the place these days and they are telling anyone that may listen about how precisely incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the typical small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social networks really live up to all of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company worthy of it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are setting up things like Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients that they don’t need an internet site because Facebook is the greatest social network on the planet and everybody features a Facebook account.
Now while it could be true that Facebook is the greatest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they really buying? Social media marketing marketing companies are all too happy to point out the positives of social networking like how many individuals use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were sent out a year ago and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the total picture? I once sat close to a SMM “expert” at a company seminar who had been spruiking to anybody who came within earshot concerning the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small company (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to locate he had only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the investigation nut that I’m, I made a decision to take a good consider SMM in regards to 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 networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) met with several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having an internet 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 networks 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 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 networking is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that will be more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. The fact is that social networking marketing fails to tell 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 that they use a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They use it to help 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 social networking users stated that they cannot engage with brands over social networking at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to talk with brands. Now out of all the those who do use social networking and who do talk with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they’ll interact.
So how will you use social networking marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well to begin with I would say that having a well optimized website is still going to bring you much more business that social networking typically especially if you really are a small to mid-sized local business because far more people will 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 an internet site you’re missing out on all of this potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still advisable for business to use social networking just not in the same way that many of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not in the direction they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked over social networks 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 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 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 folks to think 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 which can be mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is training for them but it is training for you? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily show that it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so should they do a search for hairdressers that’s what they are seeking at that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the principal intent is normally for connecting with friends acheter des vues 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 four years from we now have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that’s not our primary focus today” ;.One of the biggest problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. Based on the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they want from their social networking interactions with companies.
Like 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 for me?” comes into play. So the principal reason many people give for reaching brands or business on social networking is to get discounts, the brands and business themselves think the main reason people talk with them on social networking is to understand about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the listing of reasons why people talk with them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to locate more innovative ways for connecting with social networking if they would like to see some sort of derive from it. There have been some good initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some sort of a handle on how best to use social networking to their advantage, remember that when asked what they do if they talk with businesses or brands via social networking, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the most truly 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 great program launched by Best Buys in the U.S called Twelpforce where employees can react to customer’s questions via Twitter. With both Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the benefit is actually in the favour of the potential customer & the truly amazing trick to social networking marketing is to sell without selling (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social networking marketing is focused the wrong way.
Building a concrete buyer to consumer relationship via social networking is challenging and the absolute most benefit to business’ using social networking to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ need to recognize that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and hope for the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers need to see value in what you have to supply via your social networking efforts let them have something worth their social interaction and time and then you may get better results.
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Applications are a hard one. Consider not adding too many frivolous ones. If you absolutely must have some, place them at the very bottom of your Facebook page, where only the determined ever go. And, whatever you do, don’t use them to contact clients with. try this out for likes