5 Myths of Social Media
Misperceptions about social media abound on the Internet. They range from “open as many accounts as possible” to “ignore it, it’s a passing fad” to “that’s for kids.”
A large part of my business is training other businesses on using social media. I’m passionate about this new medium for communication.
It’s my goal today to show you how you can use these tools to make friends, use social media effectively in your marketing, what social media is not (do this and you’ll ruin it for yourself), and how to understand the ROI so you can feel confident in the ability of Facebook/Twitter/etc., to drive business.
Let’s explore the 5 most common (and damaging) myths about social media and uncover what the truth really is. Then you can see how you can harness these tools for your own fun and profit. They aren’t mutually exclusive!
5 Myths of Social Media
1. It's "just for kids" — Facebook has surpassed 1 billion users. According to author Eric Qualman, of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, if Facebook were a country, it’d be the third largest country in the world.
In fact, 300,000+ businesses are on Facebook.
Dell sold 3 million dollars’ worth of computers via Twitter.
Blendtec’s “Will it blend” campaign quintupled sales through a series of YouTube videos.
Research says 79% of U.S. adults use social media.
The lesson? It’s not just for kids!
Companies make money through Facebook. The marketing firm, Marketing Pilgrim says brands like H & M value Facebook “Likes” at $174.00. Qualman says social gamers — those who play games like Farmville on Facebook — are expected to spend $6 billion on virtual items in 2013. In contrast, moviegoers only spend $2.5 billion on real supplies like popcorn.
World leaders pay attention to Twitter. In April 2013, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked, when a tweet reported “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” USA Today reported the Dow sank 150 points within minutes. The hacking was discovered almost immediately and the Dow recovered within the hour, but the point is, this isn’t kids’ stuff.
Which brings me to Myth #2.
2. Open a social media account and the clients will come flooding in — In some circles, there still exists an idea that all you need are a couple of interns to open some social media accounts for you and you’re golden.
If only it were so easy!
When this is the approach, the business owner is always disappointed within a few weeks. Why? While the “digital native” may be savvy to the technical aspect of making a social media post, the skill in developing a marketing strategy that lies behind it is often outside of their skill set.
Social media used in a business context is very different from when it’s used as a means to share music, TV shows, and weekend plans with your friends.
There’s strategy behind effective social media marketing. You have to consider best practices, calls-to-action, ways to build email lists, and a whole host of technical and marketing thoughts when planning for social media success.
Which leads into Myth #3.
3. Starting a Facebook page constitutes having a marketing plan — I talk with numerous business people who are under this impression.
That’s akin to saying you have a car engine so you have a car. Just like a car engine by itself won’t get you to where you’re going, a Facebook page all alone won’t bring you clients.
Social media works best when you combine it with other marketing strategies like in-person networking, blogging, speaking, or some combination of these or other tactics.
For one, you need to have content of your own to show your understanding of the industry; for another, you need to use your Facebook page to get the value from it.
One of my most frequently asked questions is: what do I post on social media? My favorite answer? Write down the 5 most frequently asked questions your customers ask you. How can you turn those into social media posts? Can you write a blog post? Make a video? Illustrate with a photograph?
When my clients write down these questions — and their answers — they just need to tweak for the medium and they have five posts. Often, they find they can riff on these for weeks.
Now, Myth #4 …
4. Social media is for promoting — I cringe when I review a new client’s Facebook page and it’s loaded with “20% off” coupons and little else. On one hand, I’m glad they’re using their page, but they aren’t going to make many new friends or sales with a constant sales feed.
Social media is for amplifying your message and building relationships. Think of it this way: If you live in a small town and you’re one of two mechanics, everyone in town knows who you are and what you do. All things equal, loyalty develops between your customers and they refer you to others. If things aren’t equal and one of you is being less than honest with your customers, that word will spread quickly too.
It’s the same on social media.
Social media is a place to build trust by showing your expertise in a friendly and helpful manner. Connect with your clients and customers. Sure, you can add in the occasional promotion, but help more than you sell. Do this well and they’ll do your selling for you.
And then, Myth #5 …
5. Social Media ROI is impossible to measure — Not true. In case you’re not convinced of the ROI yet, there’s good news for you data junkies out there. Each social media platform offers metrics like “followers,” “shares,” “impressions,” etc. Those are reasonable “soft” metrics; however, there are also ways to track conversions to sales.
For example, you can tweet with a link to a landing page where your prospect can download a white paper. Your metrics will tell you how many people went from the tweet to the landing page and how many were downloaded. You may have to piece this together from the social media metrics, Google Analytics, and even email metrics, but the data is out there. You can then track the follow up.
There are certain dashboards out there like Vocus and Hubspot that corral all this in one place too.
Here’s a Facebook example: A local merchant wanted to build his email list. We offered a coupon on his Facebook page for an ice cream cone valid on a specific day. If you wanted to redeem the coupon, you had to fill out the form giving him your email, print out the coupon, and bring it in at the specified time.
Within two days, he’d added 298 new names to his email list. Then, he knew how many redeemed the coupon because they had to bring them in.
There you have it, 5 of the common social media myths I’m dying to bust. Social media success takes planning, strategy, and work — but done well, it has far more impact than traditional marketing at less cost.
What other social media myths do you want to bust? Love to hear about them in the comments below.
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