Social media has broken out of the underground and into the mainstream. And while personal social media literacy rates are rapidly rising, awareness of how to use social media tools for business and marketing campaigns is still very murky.
Here are 10 of the most common myths I’ve had to untangle during my social media consulting gigs:
image credit: PaintChick
1. Social Media Marketing is Easy
Actually, social media marketing is a lot of hard work. You have to find, filter, create and share content constantly… schmooze smoother a social butterfly with 36 heads… and do lots of time-consuming favors for people. The pace of the social media world is like a busy bar or restaurant: fun to visit, but stressful and demanding to work in. If you’re not willing to constantly read, learn, solve technical puzzles and socialize with people – you’ll just be treading water and going nowhere.
2. Social Media Marketing Works Overnight
Actually, social media marketing usually takes months or years of persistent effort before you reach any kind of successful plateau. Your first dozen blog posts are probably gonly gonna get read by your mom, and you may get few comments or kudos. It might take you 6 months to crack 1000 Twitter followers, but once you get some moment… things start to spread exponentially. This blog only had 400 subscribers the first 6 months, but by 18 months it crossed 6,000 RSS subscribers. Social Media Rockstar now gets comments and new subscribers even when I don’t post on it. Don’t give up before the miracle happens!
3. Social Media Marketing is Free
Actually, social media marketing costs a lot of your time and/or money. You can do it yourself if you’re willing to spend hundreds of hours interacting with people and making chit chat, or you can save some time by hiring a consultant who has already put in the hours and can share shortcuts and personal connections. People who really know their social media are going to be busy and in-demand, and they’ll charge for their fleeting time accordingly.
4. Social Marketing Works Well for Any Type of Business
Actually, social media works best for certain types of products and services – and not-so-well for others. In Seth Godin’s excellent book Meatball Sundae, he explains the metaphor of the meatball being a boring / ordinary product – and the whipped cream and cherrry on top being “new media marketing.” So the combination of taking a meatball (i.e., lawn chairs or life insurance) and adding some social media toppings – (http://Twitter.com/AwesomeLifeInsurance) – isn’t got to be that appetizing or successful.
Social media marketing works best for remark-able products that are of great interest to heavy social media users (think: Facebook apps, Web hosting plans, 4g mobile phones, technology conferences). For more traditional products, and you can expect low-to-moderate interest unless you find a breakthrough and ultra-creative angle.
5. Social Marketing is Typically High ROI
Actually, most people and companies are remunerated quite poorly for all the hours they spend on Twitter or Facebook. Only a small elite make huge money from social media marketing. For many companies, it is usually wise invest a significant part of your web marketing budget in higher return-on-investment (ROI) tactics: SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay-per-click) marketing or CRO (conversion rate optimization) - and slowly supplement this main course with social media juice.
6. Social Marketing is Best Handled by the Intern
Actually, Social media is really easy to screw up. Who do you want to be the public voice of your brand: a hungover sorority girl intern, an outsourced guy in Uganda with satisfactory English skills, an mid-level marketing manager having a midlife crisis – or you, yourself? It’s quite easy to offend people and stir up an online reputation problem, damage your company brand, or make a costly mistake (i.e., picking the wrong wording for your company Facebook fan page, which can never be changed — or forgetting a password and locking yourself out of a key account .) A better option might be to get initial guidance from an experienced social media professional, and to let your intern or assistant follow their guidelines.
7. Great Content Sells Itself
Actually, great web content often laungishes about… unseen and unshared. Great films never win an award. Great bands are passed over by music industry exces. Total garbage makes the bestseller list, and it hits the Digg home page too. Social media is a popularity contest – probably even more than Hollywood is. It making relationships and paying attention to other people, so when the time is right, they’ll pay attention to you and your content. You should expect to make a lot of friends and do a lot of favors for them, first…. before they’ll be willing to check out your stuff.
8. Social Marketing is the Hottest New Trend
Actually, the “golden era” of social media marketing was from 2006 to 2008. Audiences were far less jaded and self-proclaimed experts were few. Starting around 2009, exponentially more people (like myself) started to blog and tweet about social media – making it expoenentially more difficult to stand out. Now social media users’ brains and eyeballs are quickly becoming jaded and fatigued. Only the best of the best content, and most charismatic (or narcissistic) personalities can crack through all the “me too” the noise and rise to the top.
9. Setting Up a Blog / Facebook Page / Twitter widget = Effective Social Media Strategy
Actually, it won’t do much of anything without something to say to the world. Having a Twitter profile or Facebook fan page is like having a cell phone. Everyone has one, and you having one too isn’t going to make special or popular. You are required to be an interesting conversationalist. Social media is about making connections with real people, which usually takes intensive real human interaction and TLC. Don’t believe that slapping a Twitter widget at the bottom of your company web page is a “social media strategy.” A blog or social media button is just a basic tool, and if you believe it’s going to get you popularity and trafic without ongoing effort – you’re a social media “tool,” also.
10. Social Media Buzz = Sales and Income
Actually, social media is a very indirect form of marketing. Most people who visit your websites or social media profiles will never buy your products, check out your services or click on your ads. People are naturally self-centered, especially when they’re surfing the web. Most of the people you make a connect with will eventually drop you as a friend or forget about you – but a small number of the people will loyally return, pay attention, comment… and even fewer will buy your stuff. The best you can do is search out niches where you can get better targeted traffic and raise the quantity (of new content and promotional efforts) so your-1%-of-visitors-who-become-buyers adds up to a bigger bottom line.
Did I leave any out common social media myths? Please add to this list in the comments below!
Get a FREE Website Evaluation!
Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.