Social Media Marketing, Truth and Lies

Social Media Marketing is apparently the most recent buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked as much as be?

S.M.M companies are now springing up throughout the place these days and they are telling anyone which will listen about how precisely incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your organization but, for the common small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really surpass all 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 establishing things like Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients that they do not need a web site because Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the greatest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they really buying? Social media marketing companies are all too happy to indicate the positives of social networking like how lots of people use Facebook or just how many tweets were delivered a year ago and how lots of people watch 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 spruiking to anyone who came within earshot about the amazing great things about establishing a Facebook business page for business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him up on Facebook only to locate he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a great start). So being the research nut that I’m, I chose to have a good look into SMM regarding selling to see if it really 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 web 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 had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social support systems were the move to make, 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 only wanted it. For small and mid-sized business I recommended developing a quality website over any kind of 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 a lot more like LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. Truth be told that social networking marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is a cultural network not a search engine and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being around the exact same, people don’t use Facebook in the exact same way which they make use of a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They utilize it to keep in touch with family and friends or for news and entertainment. smm panel In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social networking users stated that they don’t engage with brands over social networking at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to communicate with brands. Now out of all the people who do use social networking and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or not, almost all (66%) say they have to feel a company is communicating honestly before they’ll interact.

So how will you use social networking marketing? And can it be even worth doing?

Well first of all I’d say that having a well optimized website remains going to bring you far more business that social networking generally particularly if you really are a small to mid-sized local business because far more folks 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 if there isn’t a web site you’re missing all of that potential business. However despite all the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still a good idea for business to make use of social networking just not in the exact 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 as a whole viewed social support systems like Facebook as a new 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 a few 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 until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The reality is numbers doesn’t 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 people 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 that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is working out for them but it is working out for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily signify it never will.

I think the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately searching for something so when they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are seeking at that specific time. With something similar to Facebook the primary intent is usually for connecting with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems may be monetized in the exact same way that search (Search Engines) did… In three years from we have now to determine what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today “.One of the biggest problems business face with social support systems and SMM is perception. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they need from their social networking interactions with companies.” Like in today’s society people are not just going handy you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for this, so the old adage “what’s inside for me personally?” comes into play. So the primary reason most people give for interacting with brands or business on social networking is for discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social networking is to learn about 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.

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