Social Networking is apparently the newest buzz word for anybody looking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are now springing up all over the place nowadays and they are telling anyone that will listen regarding how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for your average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social media sites really meet each of the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on getting a SMM company worthy of it? And contains anyone really done their research about this before they hired someone to setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things like Facebook business pages (which can be free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their customers they don’t need a website because Facebook will be the biggest social networking in the world and everybody has a Facebook account. Now while it may be factual that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet you will find, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real real question is are they actually buying? Social networking companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social networking like how many people use Facebook or the amount of tweets were sent out last year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but they are you obtaining the full picture? I remember when i sat alongside a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was spruiking to anybody who came within earshot concerning the amazing benefits of setting up a Facebook business page for small enterprise (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. 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 investigation nut that I am, I decided to have a look into SMM in regards to selling to find out if it genuinely worked, who did it benefit and if it did why did top 10 social media websites benefit them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a web developer I used to be constantly (and today increasingly) confronted with several social media challenges when potential customers would state that possessing a website sounds good nevertheless they enjoyed a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social media sites were the thing to do, but after discussing their demands it became quite clear those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed social networking sites or SMM to create online sales, They simply wanted it. For small and mid-sized business Normally i recommended creating a quality website over any sort of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social networking is Social Media, and social networking sites are Social Networking 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 as well as the statistics back it up. The truth is social media marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is really a social networking not the search engines and despite the quantity of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in a similar manner which they use an internet search engine like Google (which includes around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They normally use it to communicate with friends and relations or for news and entertainment. In a recent study carried out by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social networking users stated they tend not to engage with brands over social media marketing in any way and merely around 23% actually purposefully use social networking to interact with brands. Now out of all the people who use social media marketing and that do interact with brands whether purposefully or otherwise, most (66%) say they should feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well to begin with I would claim that using a well optimized website continues to be going to bring you far more business that social media marketing in most cases especially if you really are a small to medium-sized local company because far more people will type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to what they ever will on any Social Networking Site and if you don’t use a website you’re missing out on all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not too good) statistics I still believe it is still a great idea for business to make use of social media just not in the same way that many SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly no longer working in how they promise it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall looked at social media sites like Facebook as a fresh market ripe for the picking so when Facebook started getting users measured by the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% from the company (in June 2004) and also, since them several venture capital firms make 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 neglected to truly capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The truth is numbers fails to equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media company’s welfare to speak social media sites up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Networking like Facebook’s best interests for folks to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Of course it is. During early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the earlier year as its revenue which is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the idea of SMM is exercising to them however it is working out for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean which it never will.
I think the main difference between social networking sites and look engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately searching for something so if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s what they are trying to find in that particular time. With something like Facebook the main 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 Engine Listings) did… In three years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that is certainly not our primary focus today”. One of the greatest problems business face with social media sites and SMM is perception. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they really want off their social media interactions with companies.” For example in today’s society people are not just likely to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, therefore the old adage “what’s inside it to me?” is necessary. So the primary reason a lot of people give for getting together with brands or business on social media dfrbnq to obtain discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the primary reason people interact with them on social media is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of reasons why people connect with them. Most businesses believe social networking will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.