Social Media Advertising, Reality as well as Is

Social Media Marketing seems to be the most recent buzz word for anybody looking to improve their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it is cracked as much as be?

S.M.M companies are now actually springing up all over the place these days and they are telling anyone that will listen about how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your organization but, for the average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social support systems really surpass most of the hype? Is spending a tiny fortune on hiring a SMM company really worth it? And has anyone really done their research on this before they hired someone to create there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing things such as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients which they don’t need an internet site because Facebook is the largest social network on the planet and everybody features a Facebook account.

Now while it could be true that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the real question is are they really buying? Social media marketing marketing companies are all too happy to indicate the positives of social media like how many individuals use Facebook or exactly how many tweets were delivered last year and how many individuals watch YouTube videos etc. but are you getting the total picture? I once sat next to a SMM “expert” at a small business seminar who had been spruiking to anyone who came within earshot concerning the amazing advantages of establishing a Facebook business page for small business (with him of course) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued by these “experts” advice I looked him through to Facebook only to locate he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a great start). So being the investigation nut that I’m, I decided to take a good explore SMM regarding selling to see if it actually worked, who achieved it work for and when it did why did Social Media Marketing work for them? And should business rely so heavily on social support systems for sales?

As a web developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted with several social networking challenges when potential clients would claim that having an internet site sounds good but they had a Facebook business page and had been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social support systems were the action to take, 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, smm providers They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I usually recommended building a quality website over any kind of social network, why? Well it’s simple really because social media is Social Media, and social Networks are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that will be similar to LinkedIn). I understand that sounds simple but it’s true and the statistics back it up.

The fact is that social media marketing fails to inform you that Facebook is a social network not a search engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around exactly the same, people don’t use Facebook in exactly the same way which they make use of 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 utilize it to keep touching family and friends and for news and entertainment. In a recently available study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of social media users stated that they don’t engage with brands over social media at all and only around 23% actually purposefully use social media to communicate with brands. Now out of all the individuals who do use social media and who do communicate 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? And could it be even worth doing?

Well to begin with I would claim that having a well optimized website is still going to bring you a lot more business that social media in most cases especially if you certainly are a small to medium sized local business because far more folks are going to type in “hairdresser Port Macquarie” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing than they ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don’t have an internet site you’re passing up on all of the potential business. However despite most of the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still recommended for business to use social media not in exactly the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not in the direction they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business all together looked over social support systems like Facebook as a 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 organization (in June 2004) and since them several venture capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million. However since Facebook’s humble beginnings until now (2012) both SMM Companies and Business have failed to seriously capitalise on the huge quantity of Facebook users online. The fact remains numbers doesn’t equal buyers. Is it in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social support systems up? Absolutely. Is it in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for people to think that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing together? Of course it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the previous year as its revenue which can be 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 doesn’t necessarily signify it never will.

I think the major difference between social support systems and search engines is intent. People who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a seek out hairdressers that’s what they are searching for at that specific time. With something similar to Facebook the principal intent is generally to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think social support systems may be monetized in exactly the same way that search (Search Engines) did… In 36 months from we have now to find out what the optimum model is. But that’s not our primary focus today” ;.One of the biggest problems business face with social support systems and SMM is perception. In line 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 need from their social media interactions with companies.” For example in today’s society people are not just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for this, and so the old adage “what’s inside it for me personally?” comes into play. So the principal reason a lot of people give for interacting with brands or business on social media is to get discounts, the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social media is to learn about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on their set of explanations why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social media increases advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.

Companies need to locate more innovative ways to connect with social media if they want to see some type of derive from it. There were good quality initiatives shown in the IBM study of firms that had gotten some type of a handle on the best way to use social media to their advantage, keeping in mind that when asked what they do when they communicate with businesses or brands via social media, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the most truly effective two activities, respectively a U.S ice cream company called Cold Stone Creamery offered discounts on their products on their Facebook page. Alternatively there is a good 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 advantage is actually in the favour of the potential customer & the great trick to social media marketing is to market without selling (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing is focused the wrong way.

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