It's no secret that by now your company should be on social media (and your boss knows it too!), so why the hesitation? Because social media is a relatively "new" medium, not all companies have cracked the code to devising a strategy and are missing out on major opportunities. Below I bust some common social media myths that will help you roll out your social program:
- Social media is free. In short, social media is NOT free. While you may not have to pay to create an account, in order to succeed on social media you must invest time AND money. Whether you choose to hire a social media manager or an outside firm to do your social media, whoever is responsible is spending valuable time creating and building the networks, which is equal to money. Not only that, but organic reach is extremely limited and may become obsolete for businesses on social networks. This requires creating and spending money on social media ads to expand and target your reach.
- Social media is easy. Nothing worth doing comes easy, and the same is true for social media. Is it easy to strategize a communications plan? To solidify brand and messaging standards? To create branded images and logos? No, it is not, and all of those smaller processes are involved in a social media plan. Like all business plans, social media requires hard work and dedication in order to find success. But if you put in the proper planning and implementation, you can succeed on social media in an impactful way.
- There is a direct ROI. Unfortunately, like with all web-based promotions, there is no direct ROI. However, there is plenty of measurable data that comes from social media that is useful and valuable for your business. For example, are you likely to trust a brand that has 100 followers, or 100,000 followers and is actively engaging with the community? Through social media we can track who is visiting your website and where the referral source is coming from. We can see what your target audience is talking about and how you can reach them. We can promote your product and see who is clicking through to the website or if people are skimming over your content. How you collect your social media data and analyze it is how you can see results.
- You don't need a plan. Like all PR tactics, it is vital to have a strategic and well thought out plan. Creating a Twitter profile and sending out 10 tweets a day is not going to cut it. How will you build a following? Who is your target audience? What messages are you trying to promote? These are all questions you should ask yourself when creating a social media plan for your business.
- Facebook is dying. Though the organic reach may be more limited than ever, Facebook is not dying. In fact, I have found Facebook to be one of the most successful social networks for my clients. It is a great way to personalize your brand and connect with your audience. While Facebook now shows "trending topics" in its news feed, it is still less news-centric than Twitter, making it the place to connect with your followers and promote a different, more community-focused and personal, side of your brand.
- Everyone should be on every social network. False. While social media is a great way to promote awareness for your brand, not every company will find success on every social network, which is why there are so many of them. Each social network has a different purpose, so it is important to identify early on what your goals are on social media. Are you a restaurant trying to display the delicious menu items? Instagram is the place for that. Are you a designer trying to showcase the versatility of your work? Maybe Pinterest is where you should focus your efforts.
- Relationships on social don't matter. Relationships formed on social media are just as valuable as relationships formed offline. Almost all journalists and reporters are active on Twitter, making it a great medium to connect with them. Many times I have discovered local events on social media and have created a relationship that leads to a partnership for a client.
- Social media takes the place of traditional PR. Social media and traditional PR work best when combined together as part of an overall communications plan. They each complement each other, as social media can promote traditional PR efforts and vice versa. Having one without the other leads to missed opportunities.
- Social media for personal use and for business is the same. Just because you have a Twitter and Facebook account does not mean the rules are the same when doing social media on behalf of a company. In fact, the rules are very different. Businesses must create an identified voice and position on social media with a clear line of communications. Sending out tweets that are off message will confuse your consumers and target audience. Personal social media accounts do not necessarily need a plan, as your goals are not the same as that of a business. In short: be careful who you trust with your social media channels; like traditional PR, it requires skill and strategy.
What else have you heard about social media that isn't true? What are some of the reasons your clients and/or companies are hesitant to create a social media strategy?