Social internet marketing seems to be the latest buzz word for everyone looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Facebook marketing (SMM) all it is cracked up to be?
S.M.M publication rack now springing up all over the place these days and they are telling anyone that will listen about how precisely incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube will your business but, for that average small to medium sized business, does marketing to internet sites really live up to all of the hype? Is spending lots of money on hiring a SMM company well worth it? And has anyone really done their research for this before they hired someone to set up there Facebook business page? Some SMM information mill setting up things like Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling the clientele that they don’t need a web site because Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet and everybody has a Facebook account. Now although it may be true that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they actually buying? Facebook marketing companies are all too thrilled to point out the positives of social networking like how many people use Facebook or what number of tweets were sent last year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. however are you getting the full picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who had been spruiking to anyone who came within earshot regarding the amazing benefits of starting a Facebook business page for small company (with him naturally) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued through the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (wii start). So is the research nut that we are, I decided to take an excellent look into SMM in regard to supplying see if it actually worked, who did it work for and if it did why did Social internet marketing work for them? And may business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As being a web developer I was constantly (and after this increasingly) confronted with several social network challenges when clients would say that creating a website sounds good nonetheless they had a Facebook business page coupled with been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networking sites were the thing to do, but after discussing their needs it became really clear that those potential clients didn’t actually know why they needed internet sites or SMM to generate internet sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business It’s my job to recommended building a quality website over almost any social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social media marketing, and social Networks are Social support systems they are not business media and business networks (that could be more like LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple but it is true and the statistics back it up. The fact is that social media marketing ceases to tell you that Facebook is a social network not a search results and despite the number of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same manner that they use a search results like Google (which has around half google market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They normally use it to keep in contact with family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recent study produced by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social media users claimed that they do not engage with brands over social networking at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social websites to interact with brands. Now out of all the people who do use social networking and who do interact with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, the majority (66%) say they should feel a company is communicating honestly before they’re going to interact.
So how do you use social media? And is it even worth doing?
Well to begin with I would say that having a well optimized web site is still going to provide you with far more business that social websites in most cases especially if you are a small to medium sized local business because a great deal more people are going to key in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a google search like Google, Yahoo and Bing in comparison with ever will on any Social websites Site and if you do not possess a website you’re missing all of that potential business. However despite each of the (not so good) statistics I still believe that it is still a good idea for business to work with social media just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it is clearly not working in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall looked at social networks like Facebook like a fresh market ripe for that picking and when Facebook started getting users measured with the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% in the company (in June 2004) and also, since them a few venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced which it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings had been (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to truly capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The simple truth is numbers does not equal buyers. Would it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for people to believe that companies can market en masse by marketing with them? Of course it’s. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that it is profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is working out for the children but it is working out for you personally? Well… statistically no, however that does not necessarily mean that it won’t.
I believe the major contrast between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately looking for something so if they certainly a search for hairdressers it is precisely what they are looking for as well particular time. With something like Facebook the primary intent should be to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search (Search engines like yahoo) did… In three years from now we have to understand what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the biggest problems business face with social networking sites and SMM is perception. In accordance with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there was “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they really want from their social media interactions with companies.” By way of example in today’s society individuals are not just going to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back correctly, so the old adage “what’s inside it for me?” is necessary. So the primary reason a lot of people give for reaching brands or business on social networking is to receive discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people interact with them on social media marketing is to learn about new services. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their own list of reasons why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies must find more innovative ways to connect with social media whenever they want to see some sort of originate from it. There were good quality initiatives shown within the IBM study of companies which had gotten some form of a handle concerning how to use social media with their advantage, keeping in mind that whenever asked what they do whenever they interact with businesses or brands via social networking, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” because the top two activities, respectively a U.S frozen treats company called Cold Stone Creamery offered discounts on their products on their Facebook page. Alternatively you will find there’s great program launched by Best Buys from the U.S called Twelpforce where employees can reply to customer’s questions via Twitter. With Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the main benefit is clearly within the favour of the potential consumer & the great trick to social media marketing is to sell without marketing (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most facebook marketing is focused the wrong way.
Constructing a tangible buyer to consumer relationship via social media is not easy and probably probably the most benefit to business’ using social networking to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ need to comprehend that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and hope all went well. SMM requires effort and potential customers need to see value with what you have to offer via your social networking efforts give them something worth their social interaction and some time and then you may get better results.