Whether social media is brand spanking new to you, or Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and the myriad of social media platforms have been a part of your overall marketing mix for months, you're going to come up against some uncomfortable truths online.
These pain barriers will try, test, challenge, and generally cause discomfort on some level at some time. But there is hope.
Here are six uncomfortable truths about social media - and how to deal with them as and when you're finding life online tough:
* Social media engagement takes time
Despite the myths out there, social media is not a magic bullet. As with any marketing channel, it takes time to develop positive profiles, meaningful audience engagement, and drive relevant traffic back to the destinations required. The world of social media engagement is best delivered over a consistent, relationship-building-based and measurable period of time.
* Social media is not an easy freebie
Whilst some of the high-profile social media platforms are free, your time in making the right impression there certainly is not. As with any marketing activity, delivering social media content takes time. Social media marketing is not free - there is always a cost of some kind. Approaching social media as a sustained, monitored and serious part of your marketing is always best.
* Social media is not direct marketing
Although there are a few sporadic examples of social media being used to drive direct marketing-based techniques, the most successful companies and individuals online are not engaging in direct marketing or selling tactics on social media platforms. Broadcasting on social media sites is the quickest way to switch people off. When they're gone, they usually stay gone, too.
* Social media will be uncomfortable
Although social media engagement has become one of the most popular forms of online marketing in the last few years, it's also extremely uncomfortable at times. You're going to come across people you don't like. It's inevitable. Fall-outs will happen. Arguments and spats will happen. I should know, I've had a few. Make mistakes, but remember to learn from them. Quickly.
* Social media means listening more
The concept of utilising social media as a listening-based marketing channel is new information to some. The best social media marketers advocate listening first and engaging second. By listening to your target audience online, you increase the chances of gaining and (crucially) keeping their attention. We all want to have our say, but sometimes nobody wants to listen. That's life.
* Social media is not for everyone
Because of extreme accessibility, social media engagement might seem like the ideal marketing tool for everybody. Not so. There are many, many companies delivering the same old, sterile, broadcasting, corporate speak on social as they do on their other marketing channels. Sometimes, hiring in a social media consultant is highly advisable. What's the cost of a lost customer?
Next steps forward?
Have you discovered an uncomfortable truth about social media? Is it a struggle on a daily basis? Does it seem pointless? I've found that social media engagement works best when the right attitude is brought to it. Open, inclusive, listening and giving.
Now that's a tough call at times, but the rewards can be truly amazing.
Social media need not be terminally uncomfortable. If it is, try asking why.