Social Media: Myths vs truths

Every day you and I are being told about some incredible example of how social media helped a company. It is certainly a hot button topic amongst the media. Like any topical story there is some misinformation being disseminated. To help you decipher fact from fiction here are some social media myths and truths we have experienced.

Myth 1: If you build it they will come. It doesn’t happen like that. Most businesses are not selling something so exciting that people will flock to their page, blog or forum just because they are expressing themselves.

Truth: Build social media pages, such as a Facebook Fan page, with a theme that your prospects can relate to and connect with. This means having a true understanding of the emotional benefits your customers get from using your service. For example, let’s take an insurance company. Not the most exciting service and in truth, quite dry and enigmatic. Instead of creating a fan page with just the name of the company, why not create a page on “being safe.” You can link to thousands of sites and publish a tremendous amount of content that will be of interest to your clients/prospects and “fans.”

Myth 2: Everybody is using it. With so much press it seems that every single person is using social media. That is so off the mark it’s not even funny. There are a significant number of people who don’t bother spending the time. For instance, LinkedIn has over 40 million people as members, yet they only receive 15 million unique visitors a month. In addition, your business is unique and is defined by the customers/prospects you attract. Their behavior is what determines what media you should use.

Truth: At the very least, most companies should be listening to the conversations online to see if their target markets are actually using social media. What we have found, across many industries, is that for the most part it’s a mixed bag. This means most companies still need to use traditional marketing methods and “carefully” enter the social media environment.

Myth 3: We can handle social media in-house. To forward looking organizations that have the in-house talent, time and resources, this might be true. However, for the majority of organizations the amount of time and resources needed to invest are just not available.

Truth: The social media landscape is evolving. It’s a constantly changing environment with new technologies and features being added and developed at a breathtaking pace. What is most important is that you gain a true understanding of the time and resources that are needed to use social media to your benefit before engaging. There are several people that can help (including us).

Myth 4: Social media is free. Most of the tools are free (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Ning, FriendFeed) but there is a cost for integrating them into your marketing mix.

Truth: Your organization needs to create a line item budget for social media. Average campaigns can cost $25,000 – $100,000 or more depending on the strategy and tools you use.

Myth 5:You can’t measure the results. With all the different tools and information, there is a fear that the overwhelming amount of data won’t provide measurable metrics that are in sync with your goals.

Truth: With the right strategy and a simplified approach to defining performance goals, social media is easily quantifiable. However, the amount of information can be deadly and we highly recommend speaking to a knowledgeable source to help you make it simple.

What myths have you encountered?