Social Media Marketing, Truth and Lies

Social Media Marketing Singapore

Social Media Marketing seems to be the latest buzz word for anybody looking to increase 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 and they are telling anyone who will listen about how incredibly important social media like Facebook twitter and YouTube are going to your business but, to the average small to medium sized business, does marketing to social networks really live up to every one of the hype? Is spending a small fortune on hiring a SMM company really 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 (that happen to be free) for $600 to $1,000 or more and telling their customers that they don't need an online 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 may be the largest social network on the planet and yes, Facebook's members are potential consumers, the actual question is are they actually buying? Facebook marketing companies are all too thrilled to point out the positives of social media marketing like how many people use Facebook or how many tweets were mailed last year and how lots of people watch YouTube videos etc. but they are you getting the full picture? I once sat next to a SMM "expert" in a business seminar who was spruiking to anyone who came within earshot concerning the amazing benefits of establishing a Facebook business page for small company (with him naturally) and selling on Facebook. So, intrigued from the aforementioned "experts" advice I looked him high on Facebook only to find he only 11 Facebook friends (not a good start). So is the research nut that i'm, I decided to take a fantastic look into SMM in regard to supplying see if it actually worked, who did it work for and if it did why did Social Media Marketing work for them? And will business rely so heavily on internet sites for sales?

Social Media Marketing

Like a web developer I was constantly (and today increasingly) confronted with several social media challenges when potential clients would say that having a website sounds good nonetheless they had a Facebook business page together been told by various sources (the ever present yet anonymous "they") that social support systems were the thing to do, but after discussing their requirements it became very clear that those potential clients didn't actually know why they needed social support systems or SMM to generate internet sales, They just wanted it. For small and medium sized business I usually recommended building a quality website over any sort of social network, why? Well it's simple really because social media is Social media marketing, and social Networks are Social Networks they are not business media and business networks (that would be more like LinkedIn). I know that sounds simple however it is true and the statistics support it. The fact is that social media marketing does not tell you that Facebook is a social network not a internet search engine and despite the quantity of Facebook users and Google users being round the same, people don't use Facebook just as that they use a search engine like Google (which includes around half the search engine market), Yahoo and Bing find business or products. They'll 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 of the many people who do use social websites and who do connect to brands whether purposefully or otherwise, the majority (66%) say they need to feel a company is communicating honestly before they're going to interact.

So how do you use social media marketing? And is it even worth doing?

Well for starters I would say that using a well optimized web site is still going to enable you to get far more business that social media in most cases especially if you can be a small to medium sized local business because far more people are going to key in "hairdresser Port Macquarie" into a search engine like Google, Yahoo and Bing in comparison with ever will on any Social Media Site and if you don't have a website you're losing out on all of that potential business. However despite each of the (not so good) statistics I still think it is still a good idea for business to utilize social media just not in the same way that a lot of SMM professionals are today, Why? Since it is clearly not working in how they claim it does. Basically SMM Companies and Business in general looked at social networks like Facebook like a fresh market ripe to the picking and when Facebook started getting users measured through the millions PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel invested US$500,000 for 7% with the company (in June 2004) and also, since them a few investment capital firms have made investments into Facebook and in October 2007, Microsoft announced 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 fact remains numbers does not equal buyers. Could it be in a Social Media Marketing company's best interest to talk social networks up? Absolutely. Could it be in a Social Network like Facebook's needs for people to believe that companies sell en masse by advertising and marketing with them? Of course it is. In early 2012, Facebook disclosed the reason is profits had jumped 65% to $1 billion in the last 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 them but it is working out in your case? Well... statistically no, however that does not necessarily mean that it never will.

I believe the major difference between social networks and search engines is intent. Individuals who use Google are deliberately trying to find something so if they actually do a search for hairdressers it is precisely what they are looking for as well particular time. With something similar to Facebook the primary intent will be to connect with friends and family. In October 2008, Mark Zuckerberg himself said "I don't even think social networks can be monetized just like that search (Search Engines) did... In 3 years from now we have to find out what the optimum model is. That's not our primary focus today". One of the primary problems business face with internet sites and SMM is perception. In accordance with the IBM Institute for Business Value study there are "significant gaps between what businesses think consumers care about and what consumers say they desire from their social media interactions with companies." As an example in today's society individuals are not just going to hand you there recommendations, Facebook likes, comments or details without getting something back for it, so the old adage "what's inside for me?" comes into play. So the primary reason a lot of people give for interacting with brands or business on social media marketing is to receive discounts, but the brands and business themselves think the key 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 his or her list of reasons why people interact with them. Most businesses believe social media will increase advocacy, only 38 % of consumers agree.

Companies must find more innovative ways to connect with social media if they want to see some sort of result from it. There were good quality initiatives shown within the IBM study of firms that had gotten some sort of a handle on the way to use social media for their advantage, keeping in mind that when asked what they do after they interact 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 frozen treats company called Cold Stone Creamery offered discounts on the products on their Facebook page. Alternatively there is a 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 benefit is clearly inside the favour of the potential consumer & the great trick to facebook marketing is to sell without trying to sell (or looking like your selling) unfortunately most social media marketing is focused the wrong way.

Building a tangible buyer to consumer relationship via social media marketing is not easy and probably one of the most benefit to business' using social media marketing to boost their websites Google rankings. But business' should understand that you can't just setup a Facebook business page and hope all went well. SMM requires effort and potential prospects need to see value in what you have to offer via your social media marketing efforts give them something worth their social interaction and serious amounts of then you may get better results.

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