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Social Media Marketing appears to be the newest buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked around be?
S.M.M companies are now actually springing up all over the place these days and they’re telling anyone that’ll listen about how precisely incredibly important social media marketing like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your company but, for the average small to mid-sized business, does marketing to social support systems really live up to all of the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research with this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are creating such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients that they don’t need a web site because Facebook is the greatest social network in the world and everybody features a Facebook account.
Now while it might be true that Facebook is the biggest social network in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the true question is are they really buying? Social media marketing companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social media marketing like how many people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent out this past year and how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you currently getting the total picture? I once sat close to a SMM “expert” at a business seminar who was simply spruiking to anybody who came within earshot in regards to the amazing great things about creating a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him on Facebook only to locate he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the investigation nut that I am, I made a decision to take a good look into SMM regarding selling to see if it actually worked, who achieved it benefit and if 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) met with several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having a web site sounds good but they’d a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social support systems were the thing to do, 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 just wanted it. For small and mid-sized business I usually recommended creating a quality website over any kind of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media marketing is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they’re not business media and business networks (that would be a lot more like LinkedIn). I realize that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up. Truth be told that social media marketing marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is a cultural network not a research engine and despite how many Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way that they work with a internet search engine like Google (which has around half the internet search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to search for business or products. They use it to help keep in touch with family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a current study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all social media marketing users stated that they don’t engage with brands over social media marketing at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media marketing to talk with brands. Now out of all the those who do use social media marketing and who do talk with brands whether purposefully or not, most (66%) say they need to feel a company is communicating honestly before they’ll interact.
So how do you use social media marketing marketing? And is it even worth doing?
Well first of all I would say that having a well optimized website remains going to bring you a lot more business that social media marketing generally particularly if you are a small to mid-sized local business because far more individuals are going to type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a research engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and in the event that you don’t have a web site you’re passing up on all of the potential business. However despite all of the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still advisable for business to utilize social media marketing just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not working in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business all together looked over social support systems like Facebook as a brand 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 business (in June 2004) and since them several venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced so 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 genuinely capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The fact remains numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Can it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Can it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for folks to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Obviously it is. In 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 thought of SMM is exercising for them but it is exercising for you? 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. Individuals who use Google are deliberately searching for something so when they do a search for hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that one time. With something such as Facebook the primary intent is generally to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems could be monetized in the same way that search (Search Engines) d acheter des followers id… In four years from we now have to find out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today” ;.Among the biggest problems business face with social support systems and SMM is perception. In line with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there were “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers worry about and what consumers say they need from their social media marketing interactions with companies.
Like in today’s society people aren’t just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, so the old adage “what’s inside it for me personally?” makes play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for interacting with brands or business on social media marketing is for discounts, yet the brands and business themselves think the main reason people talk with them on social media marketing is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the listing of explanations why people talk with them. Most businesses believe social media marketing will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to locate more innovative ways to connect with social media marketing if they would like to see some type of be a consequence of it. There were some great initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some type of a handle on the best way to use social media marketing to their advantage, bearing in mind that whenever asked what they do if they talk with businesses or brands via social media marketing, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the most effective two activities, respectively a U.S ice cream company called Cold Stone Creamery offered discounts on the products on the Facebook page. Alternatively there is a superb program launched by Best Buys in the U.S called Twelpforce where employees can react to customer’s questions via Twitter. With both Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the benefit is actually in the favour of the potential customer & the great trick to social media marketing marketing is to offer without trying to sell (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing marketing is focused the incorrect way.
Building a tangible buyer to consumer relationship via social media marketing is challenging and one of the most benefit to business’ using social media marketing to improve their websites Google rankings. But business’ need certainly to understand that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and hope for the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers need certainly to see value in everything you have to offer via your social media marketing efforts let them have something worth their social interaction and time and then you may get better results.
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