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Social Media Myth Busting

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Busting the social media myths that keep people and companies from engaging in social media marketing. Published February 2010 by Beth Schillaci, VillageWorks

Text of Social Media Myth Busting

  • 1.Social Media MYTH BUSTING

2. I am fortunate in my job to talk to a lot of people interested in using social media as part of theirmarketing mix. Often, I hear the same questions and objections about using social media. I understandthe concern. The fact is objections or questions are valid when social media is not approached correctly.The problem is that valid objections can easily be confused with social media myths objections thatsound real, but dont reect actual reality.My goal here is to address some of the myths about Social Media. I want to give you a clean slate to usein thinking about integrating these tools into your overall marketing program. This is what I like to callSocial Media Myth Busting! President, VillageWorks Communications, Inc. 3. MYTH#1 SOCIAL MEDIA TAKES UP TOO MUCH TIME Lets face it, this one can be totally true, but only if you allow it. You can control your social media time just as you control how much time you spend on your other duties and interests. True confession: I have been guilty of wasting time with social media myself. I have procrastinated starting a project by spending time on Twitter or Facebook. But, I dont have to allow that to happen. If I look at social media as part of an overall toolkit I use to reach specic strategic goals, managing the time spent on it becomes much easier. I nd as soon as you set your goals and create a strategy to achieve these goals it becomes clear when and how to spend your time. With planning, you will adopt some daily, weekly and monthly routines that help you to better use your time, and determine how much time to use. What, you dont have any time? Are you sure? Look at your current routine there is likely at least some time that is not being used e ectively to achieve your goals. Maybe there is a marketing initiative that isnt providing the results it once did, or an analysis that no longer needs to be run. The great thing about social media is that is isnt limited to 9 to 5, so you can work it into your schedule when its most convenient. Due to family responsibilities, Im not able to attend networking events that take place before or after school. But using social media allows me to network from home while supervising homework or getting dinner ready.The bottom line: Set goals, schedule it into your day and you can avoidwasting time on social media. 4. MYTH#2SOCIAL MEDIA IS JUST FOR KIDS When you look at the demographics, you will notice that the usage trends for social media are beginning to shift to an older audience. Sure there are kids and young adults on every social media platform, but there are a lot of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers using these tools as well. In fact, some studies have shown that people, particularly women, over 40 are one of the fastest growing groups in terms of social media usage. According to a study published in PR Week in December 2009, 70% of women over 50 report using social media sites in 2009 (up from 31% in 2008), and 95% of those under 30 do as well! It really comes down to nding where your audience spends their time online and focusing on those outlets. Use sites like to look up the demographics on popular social media sites. I havent included any demographics here since they are out of date as soon as you publish them, but you can easily check for current information. Also, dont shy away from those younger than you on social networks such as Twitter. You may nd their knowledge of social media and the Internet, in general, to be very helpful. You will quickly be able to weed out the people you want to stay connected with and those that are just going to clutter up your news streams. But dont discount feedback because of a users age, or use of text shorthand or you could miss valuable input.The bottom line:Find the audience and demographic you want to engage with and get started.Social Media is not just for kids. 5. MYTH#3 SOCIAL MEDIA IS A FAD Ill admit Im nally beginning to hear this less and less, but this myth still exists. Social Media at its core is not a fad. What do I mean by at its core? I mean the two-way communication that social media tools have created between companies and their audiences. It has never been easier for a company to connect with a customer or vice versa. This idea of instant feedback and two-way communication is not going to go away. Companies that choose to ignore online comments and conversations will nd themselves ignored by their audience in the future, and possibly su er a blackened reputation right now. This is why I say its not a fad. What is a fad is the popularity and usage of specic social media sites and tools. For example, MySpace was the most popular social networking site a couple years ago, but now it has declined as a mainstream social media tool. Still popular among younger audiences and more entertainment based, its not the media darling it once was. Now the most talked about sites are Twitter and Facebook. Chances are this will change over the next year or so as well. People will migrate to whatever becomes popular next. The bottom line:So, yes, sites may be fads, but social media isnt. 6. MYTH#4 TWITTER IS JUST PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT WHATTHEY HAD FOR BREAKFAST Typically my rst response to this myth is Kelloggs cares what you had for breakfast. My point is that while there is a lot of noise on Twitter, there is also a lot of value if you know how and where to look, and understand why what you nd is important. You can cut through the clutter and nd the conversations that interest you by using search and other resources. You will nd other people talking about the same things that interest you and your company. As I said earlier, by nding your target audience and conversations, you will save time as well. You will nd on Twitter that people often mix both business and personal conversations. This bothers some people as they dont want to know what someone did on the weekend, but do value their business tweets during the week. I personally really like the combination of business and personal. It allows you to extend relationships with your audience and instantly be better connected when you meet o ine. You may also nd new interests and ideas from people you follow that are not business related. The bottom line:You may hear what someone had for breakfast, but you may also nd the connection with someone in your target audience that leads you to a new sale. 7. MYTH#5 I CAN HIRE AN INTERN TO HANDLE MY SOCIAL MEDIA My response to this is a simple question Would you allow your intern to be in charge of your sales or PR e orts? Im thinking your answer would be No. Your companys voice on social media sites is as critical a representation of who you are as your logo and any other marketing and communications. It should not be a temporary one or one that is not intimate with your company. This is not to say that an intern cant be helpful in setting up accounts and training you or sta on how to use the sites, but to put them in charge of the conversation could be dangerous. Think of it as handing over your reputation when you give someone social media responsibilities. Do you really want to give your entire corporate reputation to an intern? The person or persons handling the day-to-day management and responses for your social media conversations should understand the culture of your company, who to go to for answers and be involved in the overall social media strategy. They need to be invested in the company and interested in truly learning from your customers. Not someone who is trying to gain some real- world experience over the summer. The bottom line: Again, interns can be helpful in implementing and doing training when it comes to social media, but thinktwice before turning your reputation over to them. 8. MYTH#6SOCIAL MEDIA STANDS ALONE FROM MY OTHERMARKETING TOOLS No, No, No!!! Social media is something that needs to be integrated into your Marketing Mix, not exist somewhere on its own. It is another tool for you to add to your marketing toolbox that allows you to reach your target market. But it is not separate from your other marketing! Now, social media may use somewhat di erent marketing messages and tone since it tends to be two-way conversation and not as promotional, but it still needs to integrate with your overall goals and strategies. Use this two-way conversation to your advantage by asking for feedback on your product, marketing message or campaigns, but dont wall it o on its own. I want to point out a huge advantage to having your social media strategy integrated with your overall marketing strategy. Recycling. Because you are integrating your e orts, you can reuse tools that you are currently using elsewhere or have even used in the past. Its time to look through the archives for old photos and even videos that can be shared with your community online. Social media is not about reinventing the wheel, it is about using that wheel to take you to a new location. The bottom line:Use social media to extend and complement, not compete, with your overall marketing strategy. 9. MYTH#7SOCIAL MEDIA IS A MARKETING SILVER BULLET I have seen evidence of this myth a lot in my social media involvement. A person, say, Tom, reads about how another company was successful on Twitter. Tom signs up for Twitter accounts. Tom tweets 10 self-serving tweets without trying to nd anyone to follow. Tom deems that Twitter and therefore all social media does not work and is never to be seen again on any social media sites. Social media does take a shift in thinking for a lot of people, and that can be rough. In a social media site, you are no longer in com- plete control of your marketing message; the community now controls it. The conversation is now two-way. Blatant self-promotion is frowned upon. Ignoring comments can lead to criticism. And the more you give the more you receive. You will not have overnight success in this new m

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