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July 29, 2012

Debunking the Myths of Social Media

Social media has experienced a meteoric rise in usage and popularity in the last decade. A natural byproduct of this growth is the proliferation of myths, rumors, and misconceptions about best practices and strategies to make money using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and the like.

Here are some common myths that I’d like to overcome:

1. It’s Not Broadcasting

A broadcast is defined as the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Because of the unique nature of interactions, many people do not consider social media marketing a broadcast, like a television or radio ad. This makes no sense.

If a Facebook post gets 2 million likes, or a YouTube video 100,000 hits, the content has absolutely been distributed to a massively diverse audience via a visual medium. These platforms are viable and effective broadcast mediums, and the sooner companies begin to consider them as such, the better off they’ll be.

2. It’s All About Likes and Followers

Too many people tell me they don’t have enough followers on Twitter, or likes on Facebook. Too many companies ask me how to get them 100,000 views on a YouTube video. If you have 1,000,000 followers/likes/views, but aren’t engaging any of them, or they aren’t in your target market, they’re completely worthless.

I can strap a squirrel to some water skis, film a few laps around the tub, and throw it on your YouTube channel. We’ll watch the view count soar, while your bottom line remains unchanged.

Instead of focusing on quantity, lets focus on the quality of each follower you gain. I’d much rather have 100 engaged, participating followers than 100,000 disinterested random people.

3. It’s Free

Social media itself is free. It is free to sign up for an account as a private citizen. If you consider what it takes to build an effective campaign, the marketing side is not free, and never has been. Consider the elements:

* Developing a strategy that raises awareness and boosts sales
* Aligning strategy with existing marketing platform
* Distributing content
* Media/advertising buy on platforms
* Active engagement with fan base
* Building a targeted fan base
* Providing your fan base with an opportunity to engage with each other, with you, and show off
* Turning your fan base into tangible profits
* Creating any and all content for distribution

The sooner you stop thinking of it as a free “bonus” service, and make a real investment of resources, the sooner you’ll have effective and profitable strategies in place.

4. Figure It Out As You Go

Every project, creative or otherwise, needs goals, deadlines, and specific roles for everyone involved. However, because social media is “free,” many companies simply have a secretary or an intern create and manage the companies entire presence without creating an effective strategy for doing so.

Older generations tend to be technology and trend shy, allowing the younger employees to run with it. I’m not saying this is a bad idea, but the right hand should know what the left is doing. If marketing is the face of your company, social media is the voice that goes with the face.

Social media has gone from an interesting trend to a staggering industry. Companies without a social media presence are dinosaurs. Tread carefully, because there are many misconceptions about marketing on these platforms, but if used effectively, they can generate awareness, build a dedicated customer base, and ultimately increase profits.

Mike Burke is Head of Business Development at redcmedia.