Social Media Marketing seems to be the latest buzz word for anyone looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S. M. M companies are right now springing up all over the place these days and they are telling anyone that will listen about how exactly incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are for your business but , for the average little to medium sized business, does advertising to social networks really live up to all the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their own research on this before they employed someone to set up there Facebook company page? Some SMM companies are setting up things like Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1, 000 or more and informing their clients that they don’t need a website because Facebook is the biggest social network in the world and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it may be true that Facebook is the largest social network in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they actually buying? Social media marketing companies are all too happy to point out the positives of social media like how many people use Facebook or even how many tweets were sent out a year ago and how many people watch YouTube videos etc . but are you getting the complete picture? I once sat close to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone that came within earshot about the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business web page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Fb. So , intrigued by 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 that I is, I decided to take a great look into SMM in regard to selling to see if it actually worked, who achieved it work for and if it did why did Social Media Marketing work for them? And really should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I was constantly (and right now increasingly) confronted with several social networking difficulties when potential clients would say that possessing a website sounds good but they a new Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks were the thing to perform, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear those potential clients didn’t actually know precisely why they needed social networks or SMM to generate online sales, They simply wanted it. For small and medium sized business I always recommended building a quality website over any type of social network, why? Well it’s simple actually because social media is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that would be more like LinkedIn). I know that will sounds simple but it’s accurate and the statistics back it up. The fact is that will social media marketing fails to tell you that Fb is a social 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 same way they use a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for company or products. They use it to help keep in touch with family and friends or for information and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media users stated that they tend not to engage with brands over social media in any way and only around 23% actually actively use social media to interact with manufacturers. Now out of all the people who do use social media and who do interact with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they need to feel a company can be communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And is it even worth doing?
Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website is still going to enable you to get far more business that social media generally especially if you are a small to medium sized local business because far more people are going to type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Google and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Web site and if you don’t have a website you’re losing out on all of that potential business. However despite all the (not so good) stats I still think it is still recommended for business to use social media just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in the way they claim it can. Basically SMM Companies and Business as a whole looked at social networks like Facebook as a fresh market ripe for the picking and when Facebook started obtaining 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 acquired purchased a 1 . 6% reveal of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble origins up until now (2012) both SMM Businesses and Business have failed to really capitalise on the huge number of Fb users online. The truth is numbers will not equal buyers. Is it in a Social internet marketing company’s best interest to talk web sites up?
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Absolutely. Is it in a Social networking like Facebook’s best interests for people to think that companies can sell sobre masse by advertising and marketing with them? Obviously it is. In early 2012, Facebook revealed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as its revenue which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3. 71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is usually working out for them but it is perfect? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily mean that it never will.