What we call ‘social media’ in one form or another has been with us now for over a decade, but to many it’s still the shiny new thing of digital marketing.
While email, search and content provide solid foundations for businesses to promote their products and services, social media has stolen the spotlight.
It’s the One Direction of digital, shooting to fame almost overnight and stealing the limelight that others have worked long and hard to get.
And with that limelight, there are myths, just like the hype that surrounded the web when that was the shiny new thing.
There are many other myths of course, but these are the three basic myths that often prevent businesses from putting time and effort into doing things right.
They crop up time and time again and, I am sad to say, these are often churned out by those who should know better.
And until we’re clear on these, it’s difficult to move any further forward.
Myth 1: Social media is free
Water is free, if you cup your hands and scoop it out of the stream, but if you want it cleaned and piped to your house, you have to pay for it. Almost all social networks could be considered free – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, don’t cost a bean to join, but money isn’t the only consideration here.
All of them require time, your time, or that of an artist, photographer or writer in order to create the kind of content that wins business for you. An agency won’t work for nothing and I bet you don’t consider your time worthless, so banish this myth once and for all.
Many social networks are now also introducing advertising opportunities, which means paying to play could become the norm for businesses using social media.
Myth 2: Social media is easy
Sign up to all the social networks, tell people regularly what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with, take pictures of your face, your cat and your meals. Some people would have you believe that’s all there is to it.
If you’re not a business owner, anything goes, but if you want your customers to buy stuff from you, you need to think differently.
Have you ever paid for a newspaper ad and posted a picture of Fluffy the cat in the belief people will think your cute moggy makes you a retail god.
Didn’t think so.
Using social media effectively is probably more difficult than any other marketing channel. That’s not to say you should ignore it, just make sure you plan it into your other activities so it meets your expectations.
Myth 3: Social media will automatically bring you bundles of new customers
I’m pretty sure you’ll have already discovered this is a myth. The truth is that social media is an amplifier.
If you’re doing great things and your customers like your products, using social media will help you take that message to a wider market, and your customers will help you along the way.
If your business is average or even upsetting customers, social media will not help you. In fact, it will do exactly the same thing, take that message to a larger audience.
Social networks are great for communicating what you are doing, good or bad, so if you’re doing great things, it will work well. It’s not an automatic business generator. Your customers will use it as a mouthpiece, do things right and they will do the work for you.