Social Networking appears to be the most recent buzz word for everyone trying to enhance 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 these days plus they are telling anyone who will listen regarding how incredibly important social networking like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going 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 small fortune on employing a SMM company really worth it? And contains anyone really done their research about this before they hired someone to setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are putting together things like Facebook business pages (that are free) for $600 to $1,000 or maybe more and telling their clients which they don’t need to have a website because Facebook is definitely the biggest social media on the planet and everybody includes a Facebook account. Now while it could be factual that Facebook will be the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real real question is will they be actually buying? Social networking companies are too happy to indicate the positives of social networking like the number of people use Facebook or how many tweets were sent this past year and just how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but they are you having the full picture? One time i sat alongside a SMM “expert” in a business seminar who was spruiking to anybody who came within earshot about the amazing benefits associated with setting up a Facebook business page for small enterprise (with him obviously) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by the aforementioned “experts” advice I looked him high on Facebook only to find he had only 11 Facebook friends (not an excellent start). So being the research nut i am, I made the decision to take a look into SMM when it comes to selling to see if it actually worked, who did it work with and in case it did why did www.topsocialmedia.net work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As being a web developer I was constantly (now increasingly) confronted with several social media challenges when potential clients would state that having a website sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social media sites were the move to make, but after discussing their needs it became quite clear that individuals potential customers didn’t actually know why they needed social media sites or SMM to generate online sales, They only wanted it. For small and medium-sized business I usually recommended constructing a quality website over any kind of social media, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media Marketing, and social media sites are Social Media Sites they are not business media and business networks (that might be more like LinkedIn). I am aware that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics support it. The fact is that social networking fails to let you know that Facebook is really a social networking not the search engines and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being across the same, people don’t use Facebook in a similar manner which they use a search engine like Google (that has around half the major search engines market), Yahoo and Bing to look for business or products. They use it to connect with family and friends or perhaps for news and entertainment. In a recent study performed by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all the social media users stated which they usually do not engage with brands over social media whatsoever and just around 23% actually purposefully use social media to have interaction with brands. Now out of all the people who use social networking and that do interact with brands whether purposefully or otherwise not, most (66%) say they should feel a business is communicating honestly before they will interact.
Well to start with I would personally state that having a well optimized website is still planning to provide you with a lot more business that social media in most cases particularly if you are a small to medium sized local business because much more people are likely to type “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing compared to what they ever will on any Social Networking Site and when you don’t possess a website you’re losing out on all of that potential business. However despite all of the (not too good) statistics I still think it is still a great idea for business to make use of social networking just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly no longer working in the manner they claim it can. Basically SMM Companies and Business overall considered social media sites like Facebook as being a fresh market ripe for the picking and once 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 a couple of venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook as well as in October 2007, Microsoft announced which it had obtained a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have neglected to truly capitalise on the huge number of Facebook users online. The simple truth is numbers fails to equal buyers. Will it be in a Social Media company’s welfare to talk social networking sites up? Absolutely. Will it be in a Social Media like Facebook’s needs for folks to imagine that companies can sell en masse by marketing and advertising along with them? Needless to say it is actually. At the begining of 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as the revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the thought of SMM is working out to them but it is exercising for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that does not necessarily mean that it never will.
I believe the main difference between social networks and look engines is intent. Those who use Google are deliberately searching for something so if they perform a search for hairdressers that’s whatever they are looking for at this particular time. With something similar to Facebook the key intent is generally to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social networks may be monetized in the same manner that search (Search Engine Listings) did… In 36 months from now we have to evaluate which the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today”. One of the greatest problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. In accordance with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they really want off their social media marketing interactions with companies.” As an example in today’s society people are not only likely to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, therefore the old adage “what’s inside it to me?” is needed. So the primary reason many people give for getting together with brands or business on social networking dfrbnq to get discounts, however the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social networking is to discover new items. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their own listing of main reasons why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social networking increases advocacy, only 38 % of clients agree.