Top 6 Social Media Myths

If I had a dollar for every time a company has asked me if they should be using Social Media, I’d be well rich. Thinking that your business can get away with treating Social Media as if it were a personal Facebook page with no plan and no buy-in throughout the company can be an expensive mistake. Here’s how unexamined buzz and uninformed marketers are making huge mistakes because they don’t understand that social media is not marketing it’s participating.

Here are what I believe are the top myth's about social media as applies to business.

Myth 1. Social Media is cheap. So not cheap. It might not have a high start-up cost because you’re “just adding” to sites that already exist. The reality is that the trade off is in labour costs. Just monitoring your company’s reputation on one, let alone the multitude of sites, is time intensive and can require daily monitoring. But to make it work, Social Media requires a plan to be played out over time. The more branches of your organization involved, the greater potential for success. Additionally, you need content that is specifically developed to make an outstanding impression, which is very costly to produce. Oh, and never overlook the internal legal and compliance issues involved.

Myth 2. Social Media is fast. Not really. While getting something online doesn’t necessarily take months, the very essence of “SOCIAL” means a slow return. Social Media marketing is about building meaningful relationships with people where they “live” online. Social = sharing culture. Again, you must create content that is meaningful, engaging, and learn to adapt company policies toward giving rather than just taking. It’s about being open and transparent and developing trust. This takes time. Well crafted social media campaigns require months (read multiple quarters) before they mature. Just ask the City of Montreal about its Bixi program’s social media failure.

Myth 3. Social Media is the new Viral Marketing. Not at all. If you think that you can create a social media campaign and sit back and watch it go viral you’ll be sitting for a long time. As Charlene Li said at Web 2.0. “...attitude is the biggest problem, because social media is not a campaign. It’s about relationships and conversations.” If your social media program is developed with the idea of going viral, you are setting yourself up for failure. Additionally, any time you take your eye off the ball and focus on trying to make something to go viral, you’ve left behind what your brand and marketing plan’s focus should be.

Myth 4. Social Media ROI is easy to measure. Not so much. Sure we can output great reports on users, so you have 1,000 new friends and thousands of hits on your video, does this translate into value for your brand, or something your sales team can take to the bank? Perhaps, but the number of hits is not a very meaningful way to measure social results. The nature of building a brand has other less tangible results.

Myth 5. Social Media is not necessary for your industry. Wrong. It doesn’t matter what the industry, people are talking about it at some point. You do need to be part of that conversation, if fact you need to be leading and directing the conversation – a full participant. Just because you don’t see it on Facebook doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Online is where people do their talking, griping, praising. Getting your culture to adopt is a huge barrier. Each company has a culture and you absolutely need to take the time required for adaptation. C level must buy into believing this is a part of our corporate strategy and it can deliver on our goals by increasing the by in by customers.

Myth 6. Social Media is easy. Nope. It’s not easy, it’s very complicated. It requires a plan, a focused strategy and time to ensure that you don’t burn connections or destroy relationships before they can be solidified. It needs solid research to discover the best avenues to follow, the right content to deliver and serious internal management and policy reviews. Taking your company out of the ivory tower or industrial park and making it human requires attention to a multitude of details. Changing an organization to accept the demands of social communities is brand altering. You can radically change the perception and success of your company – so you must pay attention to all the touch points.

All that said, Social Media works when applied properly and sometimes it’s in making the errors that we find the right path. Still, we’ve moved far enough into this trend to be able to learn from the mistakes of others. Absolutely fish where the fish are, just make sure you're using the right bait.

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