Social Media Selling, Facts and even FabricationsAugust 7, 2022
Social Media Marketing is apparently the newest buzz word for anybody looking to increase their online presence and sales, but is Social Media Marketing (SMM) all it’s cracked up to be?
S.M.M companies are actually springing up throughout the place nowadays and they are telling anyone that may listen about how exactly incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are to your business but, for the average small to medium-sized business, does marketing to social networks really live up to most 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 setup there Facebook business page? Some SMM companies are establishing such things as Facebook business pages (which are free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their clients they don’t need an internet site because Facebook is the largest social network in the world and everybody features a Facebook account.
Now while it might be true that Facebook is the largest social network in the world and yes, Facebook’s members are potential consumers, the actual question is are they really buying? Social media marketing marketing companies are too happy to point out the positives of social media like how many people use Facebook or just how many tweets were sent out a year ago and how many people watch YouTube videos etc. but are you currently getting the full picture? I once sat close to a SMM “expert” at a company seminar who had been spruiking to anybody who came within earshot in regards to the amazing benefits 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 up on Facebook only to find he’d only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So being the research nut that I’m, I made a decision to have a good explore SMM in regards to selling to see if it really worked, who did it benefit and if it did why did Social Media Marketing benefit them? And should business rely so heavily on social networks for sales?
As a website developer I was constantly (and now increasingly) confronted by several social networking challenges when potential clients would say that having an internet site sounds good but they’d a Facebook business page and have been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous “they”) that social networks 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 networks or SMM to generate online sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium-sized business I usually recommended developing a quality website over almost any 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 would be a lot more like 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 share with you that Facebook is a cultural network not a research engine and despite the amount of Facebook users and Google users being around the same, people don’t use Facebook in the same way they use a search engine like Google (which has around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing to find business or products. They utilize it to help keep touching family and friends or for news and entertainment. In a recent study done by the IBM Institute for Business Value around 55% of all 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 people who do use social media and who do communicate with brands whether purposefully or not, the majority (66%) say they should feel a company is communicating honestly before they will interact.
So how do you use social media marketing? And can it be even worth doing?
Well first of all I’d say that having a well optimized website is still going to bring you a lot more business that social media generally particularly if you really are a small to medium-sized local business because far more folks will enter “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 an internet site you’re passing up on all of the potential business. However despite most of the (not so good) statistics I still believe it is still advisable for business to use social media not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Because it’s clearly not in the way they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked over social networks 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 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 reality is numbers does not equal buyers. Can it be in a Social Media Marketing company’s best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Can it be in a Social Network like Facebook’s best interests for individuals to trust that companies can sell en masse by advertising and marketing using them? Of course it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed that its profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last year as its revenue that is mainly from advertising had jumped almost 90% to $3.71 billion so clearly the concept of SMM is training for them but it’s training for you personally? Well… statistically no, but that will not necessarily show that it never will.
I think the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they do a look for hairdressers that’s what they are looking for at that specific time. With something like Facebook the primary intent is normally to get in touch 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) did… In 36 months from acheter des abonnés we now have to determine what the optimum model is. But that’s not our primary focus today” ;.Among the biggest problems business face with social networks and SMM is perception. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value study there have been “significant gaps between what businesses think consumers value and what consumers say they want from their social media interactions with companies.
For example in today’s society people aren’t just going to hand you over there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back because of it, so the old adage “what’s inside it for me?” has play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for interacting with brands or business on social media is to receive discounts, the brands and business themselves think the key reason people communicate with them on social media is to master about new products. For brands and business receiving discounts only ranks 12th on the set of explanations why people communicate with them. Most businesses believe social media will increase advocacy, but only 38 % of consumers agree.
Companies need to find more innovative ways to get in touch with social media if they want to see some type of derive from it. There have been some good initiatives shown in the IBM study of companies that had gotten some type of a handle on the best way to use social media with their advantage, keeping in mind that after asked what they do once they communicate with businesses or brands via social media, consumers list “getting discounts or coupons” and “purchasing products and services” as the top 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 answer customer’s questions via Twitter. With both Cold Stone Creamery and Twelpforce the benefit is clearly in the favour of the potential customer & the truly amazing trick to social media marketing is to offer without attempting to sell (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing is focused the incorrect way.
Building a tangible buyer to consumer relationship via social media is challenging and probably the most benefit to business’ using social media to boost their websites Google rankings. But business’ have to understand that you can’t just setup a Facebook business page and a cure for the best. SMM requires effort and potential customers have to see value in what you have to offer via your social media efforts provide them with something worth their social interaction and time and then you might get better results.