Social Media seems to be the newest buzz word for anybody seeking to enhance 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 everywhere today and they are generally telling anybody that will listen regarding how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going to your small business but, for the average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social media sites really meet all the hype? Is spending a small fortune on employing a SMM company well worth it? And contains anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to put together 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 even more and telling their clients that they don’t need a website because Facebook is the biggest social networking on earth and everybody features a Facebook account. Now while it may be factual that Facebook will be the largest social network on the planet you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question is are they actually buying? Social media companies are common too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like the amount of people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent out a year ago and exactly how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you obtaining the full picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anybody who came within earshot about the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small business (with him needless to say) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued from the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him high on Facebook only to discover he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the research nut i am, I made the decision to take a good look into SMM when it comes to selling to find out if it genuinely worked, who did it work for and in case it did why did social media sites work with them? And really should business rely so heavily on social media sites for sales?
Being a web developer I had been constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when prospective clients would claim that having a website sounds good nevertheless they experienced a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the move to make, but after discussing their requirements it became quite clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networks or SMM to produce online sales, They simply wanted it. For small and mid-sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any kind of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media Marketing, and social media sites are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that could be similar to LinkedIn). I am aware that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics support it. The truth is social media fails to let you know that Facebook is a social networking not an internet search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner which they use a search engine like Google (that has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They use it to keep in touch with friends and family or news and entertainment. In a recent study performed by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all the social media marketing users stated which they tend not to engage with brands over social media marketing in any way and only around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to interact with brands. Now out of all the individuals who use social media and that do communicate with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they have to feel an organization is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well to start with I might say that having a well optimized website remains going to provide you with far more business that social networking typically particularly if you really are a small to medium-sized local business because much more people will type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into an internet search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Networking Site and in case you don’t use a website you’re losing out on all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not good) statistics I still think it is still a great idea for business to make use of social media not in the same way that the majority of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the manner they promise it will. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall considered social networks like Facebook as being a fresh market ripe for the 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 a few venture capital firms are making investments into Facebook as well as in October 2007, Microsoft announced 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 will not equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Media company’s best interest to dicuss social media sites up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s needs for individuals to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Obviously it is. During early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is working out on their behalf yet it is training to suit your needs? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean which it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and check engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a search for hairdressers that’s whatever they are looking for at that particular time. With something similar to Facebook the key intent is normally to get in touch with relatives and buddies. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks can be monetized in the same manner that search (Search Engines Like Google) did… In 3 years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is. But which is not our primary focus today”. One of the primary problems business face with social media sites and SMM is perception. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they want from their social networking interactions with companies.” For instance in today’s society people are not just going to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, so the old adage “what’s within it to me?” is necessary. So the main reason most people give for interacting with brands or business on social networking dfrbnq to receive discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the key reason people interact with them on social networking is to learn about new releases. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the listing of reasons why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media increases advocacy, only 38 % of consumers agree.