Social Media Myths Dispelled

I’ve heard more than a few myths recently about social media that paint it as some kind of magical unicorn in the marketing work. Unfortunately, these myths are completely untrue–they’re the kind of myths that get corporate marketing teams very excited, and social media managers very scared. I’d like to look at a couple of the biggest offenders, and then the truths that will help bring things back to reality.

Social Media Unicorn
photo courtesy of dreamcicle19772006

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Myth #1: Social media is a magic bullet

Truth: Yikes people, there is no such thing as a magic bullet. Social media is not a magic bullet. If you have brand perception issues, if you’re not connected to your community and if you want to get involved in social media because “everyone else is doing it” then yes, you can leverage the social web to help you change those things. However, saying that you’re going to do social media does not in and of itself solve your problems. Just creating a Facebook fan page, a YouTube channel and even having a blog does not solve your problems. It’s what you do with these things that make the difference. It’s how you use these tools to connect and engage that shows the value of social media. I also want to highlight, underline, italicize and bold that this cannot be the responsibility of only one person. You need to have the buy-off and involvement from many stakeholders including:

    – Executives
    – Product managers
    – PR teams
    – Marketing teams
    – Web teams

Without these groups’ commitment, your social media initiatives cannot grow/thrive. And, I think it’s also worth mentioning, that social media is a long term investment. Campaigns do not a social media program make.

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Myth #2: Social media is free.

Social Media is Free
Image courtesy of Don Hankins, Flickr

Truth: Double yikes. I know I’m going to break a few hearts when I say this, but social media is definitely not free. Aside from the time investment that you’ll need to take from many team members, there are also dollar costs involved. Whether that be for the analytics suites you buy, or the Twitter clients you use (note: there are many free Twitter clients, but once you start needing enterprise grade management across several profiles, including measurement and reporting…Tweetdeck just doesn’t cut it) or the developers you hire to build sweet Facebook apps for your fan page…it’s just not free.

Remember: there is no free lunch (not even online).

What social media offers in return however, is a way to scale your marketing programs and create relationships that will pay off in the long run. Once you invest and build a strong foundation in social media, than you’ll be able to cultivate a community that will help spread your message. They’ll act as online police for you squashing the naysayers, they’ll be your brand advocates and they’ll write the reviews that turn into sales in the long run–they’ll even give you feedback to ensure that your products are in line with their needs/wants. It bears mentioning that the investment you’re making in social media is probably less than you already do in many of your traditional marketing and PR efforts. Keep yourself accountable by measuring the affects of social media, and change course when the investment is not justified by the returns. But remember, it’s not an overnight thing. Just like building a friendship, gotta give it time.

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I know there are more myths circulating out there…which ones are you fighting?