I have trained thousands of people in social media marketing over the last few years, and over time I have noticed a number of “myths” that many people have been led to believe about social media. Since social media is still relatively new, many business look for reasons not to participate. If you have to convince your boss, business partner or even yourself that social media is important you may have to overcome some of these barriers.
In my experience, here are the 7 most common myths about social media marketing.
Myth #1 Social Media is Just a Fad
I have been asked this question many times – is social media just a fad? If we choose to ignore it will it go away eventually? I think that by now we all know that the answer is NO. Social media is definitely here to stay. Still not convinced? Here is some information that might sway you……
- Social media isn’t really new – We have been social forever. People have also talked about products for many, many years (think about word of mouth marketing). What is new is the media by which we have social interactions. We don’t mail letters any more or even call people. We post to Facebook, Twitter and Blogs as a way to communicate with large groups of our friends all at once. The media has changed how we interact with people, but the people have not changed.
- Facebook has over 500 million registered users – which is bigger than the combined populations of Canada, the US and Mexico
- Social media has replaced PORN as the #1 activity online
- More people check Facebook each day than listen to the radio or read a newspaper
Clearly social media is here to stay. Many businesses felt the same way about the web and ignored it for many years to their own peril. Now we know that yellow pages advertising is dying, and getting your business online is a priority. Like the internet, social media is here to stay.
Myth #2 – Social Media is Only for Young People
Sure, Facebook may have started with college students, but it has now reached mass adoption across demographics. Older demographics are the quickest adopting users of social media sites. As the chart below shows the average age on many social media sites is higher than you might think. Most social media sites have an average user age in the 30s.
Social media has over 50% usage in every age demographic, which means that even those over 50 are now active on social media sites.
Many businesses also think that interns or college grads are the best people to manage their social media efforts because these people are “digital natives”. The reality is that these so called digital natives probably don’t have the relevant strategic marketing experience or business sense to be successful on their own. They may be more comfortable with the tools, but that doesn’t mean that they have the capability to translate your business strategy into a social media execution.
Myth #3 – There is no Return from Social Media Marketing
Many businesses mistakenly think that there is no return in social media because let’s face it – many businesses are not getting a return in social media. Most businesses fail to generate a return from social media because they don’t allocate the appropriate resources to be successful. Sure it is free to create a Twitter account or a Facebook page, but if you don’t invest time upfront in strategy or creative you are unlikely to be successful. If it was easy everyone would do it!
The reality is that businesses who do it right can achieve dramatic results from their social marketing efforts. Consider the following examples:
- Naked Pizza, a small Pizza company had their highest ever sales day as a result of social media
- Dell has sold millions of dollars from their Twitter account
- VistaPrint sold over $30k in their first year on social media
- Marriott has generated millions of dollars in reservations directly from their blog
- BtoB companies report earning new customers through social
The reality is that there are MANY success stories in every industry that show how social media can work for your business. The key is to invest the appropriate resources to be successful.
Myth #4 – Social Media isn’t Right for MY Business
I hear this a lot, especially from BtoB companies. “Social Media just isn’t right for my business – it is only for those super popular consumer brands”. This just isn’t true. Different social tools are more appropriate for different business areas. In the case of BtoB, social media presents the opportunity to close more sales and increase conversion rates from inquiries by showcasing your expertise and highlighting your strategic advantages.
Social media works for any business because at this point, regardless of your industry your buyers or future buyers are using social media. More people check Facebook each day than listen to the radio or read a newspaper. Social media adoption is so broad that audiences of all types are now using it to connect with customers and share news.
When considering social media for your strategy keep in mind that social media applications extend beyond marketing.
Myth #5 – Social Media Marketing is “New”
This related back to Myth #1 about social media being a fad. Social media is here to stay (like it or not), but marketing your business on social media doesn’t have to be an entirely new or different system. The best social media programs are extensions of what already works in traditional marketing or are integrated to enhance the results from traditional marketing efforts. Social media marketing isn’t an entirely new discipline – it leverages all of the principles of traditional marketing.
When you think about your social media marketing strategy consider how you can take your offline marketing strategies that you know work and adapt them for social. And guess what? The advantage of internet marketing is that it can be more scalable, responsive and implemented quicker than traditional marketing.
Consider adapting known strategies for social media vs. creating something totally new.
Myth #6 – Social Media is Too Time Consuming
The reality is that for most small and medium businesses social media doesn’t have to become a total time suck. Most social sites can be managed in 10 – 30 minutes a day for companies that don’t have an extremely high volume of interactions. The problem is that it is sometimes difficult to stay strategic and focused on social sites (OMG, look at what SoAndSo posted – oh, and here is a funny video – WHAT!?!?!, she changed jobs?). The key to success is to identify specific time for social media and have a list of what to do on the site. In our social media training we teach clients how to use a system to stay focused and strategic. This helps maximize the results while minimizing the time invested.
Social media doesn’t have to take a ton of time, but it can. Build a strategic plan and stick to it.
Myth #7 – Social Media is Free
This is probably one of the biggest problems with social media. Since it is free to create accounts on social sites, many businesses jump in without allocating the appropriate resources to be successful or creating a plan upfront. The result is poorly thought out social media executions that lack creative execution or any real plan.
Imagine if TV was free. We’d see lots of really crappy TV commercials, most of which lacked any strategy or creative production quality. We would then say that TV doesn’t work when the reality is that “free” mediums tend to become extremely cluttered and lack the appropriate planning and execution resources to be effective.
Social media isn’t really free. It takes time, energy and resources to execute. Social media costs may include the cost of an agency or consulting, the time and energy spent learning or attending conferences and training events, plus the actual resources used to execute. Keep in mind that there are real and hidden costs in social media.
There is also a negative cost that could come from a poorly executed plan. If you abandon your social media assets or post boring content you could actually create a negative impression for your business.
It isn’t free so take the time to do it right.
Have you heard any of these myths? Are there any that I missed?