Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses of all sizes. It’s a vital piece of the relationship building equation, and can when done well, can increase profits. After all, the numbers are quite impressive: Internet users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts, and 1 million active new mobile social users are added every day. Social media has seen an increase of 176 million users since last year.
But, simply having a social media profile isn’t enough. There must be a strategy behind all social activity, and for it to achieve your goals, you must have realistic expectations about what it can do for you.
Regardless of what you hope to accomplish with social, it’s not something you can just jump into. Plan to be there, every day for years to come, with valuable content to help you build and engage your audience. If you don’t go into it with this in mind, you’ll likely set yourself up for failure, which means you’ll invest less resources in social – doing your business a great disservice.
One major hurdle for many business owners is the sheer amount of misinformation out there about social media.
Myth 1: You Have to Be Everywhere
Truth: With all the social media networks out there to choose from, it’s easy to think you can maximize your efforts by having a profile everywhere. You are far better served by having a high quality presence on a few networks where your customers are, than you are by having a spotty presence everywhere.
How can you tell which networks you should be on, and which ones will be most worth your time? Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut formula that works for all businesses across the board, but taking the time to ask some questions about each network can help you get the right answer.
- What do the network’s users look like?
- Who’s most likely to use the network over time?
- Are the users similar to your potential customers? If not, do they have the potential to influence your potential customers?
- What types of content are the users most likely to share?
- How does the content get exposed to other users on the network?
- Can your business develop new types of content that allow you to leverage the popularity of a new social network?
- What time and resource investment will be required to actively participate in this network?
- Do you expect to see a good return on investment?
If the network doesn’t have a decent size audience that matches your own, and most of your audience won’t be there over time, then it may not be worth the investment. If your customers aren’t there as users, there’s no point in spending your resources there, when you could put them toward another network that reaches your audience better. For example, Pinterest’s audience is 85% female, so if you have a predominantly male audience, it may not be a good option. However, because those females may have the power to influence the males in their lives, it could be worth it.
Think about what’s popular among the site’s users and if your content, services, or products can align with the trends there. Browse the site ahead of time to see if there’s anywhere you can fit in. Consider how the content is exposed to others on the network, because issues like Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm means only a small percentage of your audience sees what you post, but on Pinterest, everything is placed chronologically, starting at the top again when it is repined.
Be creative about the ways you can create content to leverage additional networks, like YouTube. You don’t have to have expensive video equipment to create a presence there. If you have a PowerPoint presentation you can create a voiceover for, or anything you can screencast and narrate, you can post videos there in no time.
Consider how much time you’ll have to invest in each network you wish to join, and whether or not it is practical for you. It’s easy to spread too thin, especially if you’re a small business and dong most of the work yourself.
If you can’t see anything positive coming out of the network – increasing brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, increasing inbound leads – then it’s time to scrap the idea and move onto another network.
In 2014, a new social media network, Ello, hit the scene as a result of frustration with current options. Many brands jumped on board in the beginning, including Netflix, AdWeek, Ancestry, Business Insider, and Electrolux. But, for whatever reason, the network flopped, and the company pivoted to a social network for creators to share their wares, sell, and get hired.
Just because something’s there, doesn’t mean you should jump on the ship.
Myth 2: I Can Get Away with Posting the Same Update on All Social Networks
Truth: While it may tempting to craft a single post and share it on all your social platforms to save time, the reality is that all platforms are different, and it’s important to understand what makes them different, and adjust the content accordingly. To be successful on social media, use the differences to your benefit.
If you want to see a brand rocking social media, look no further than General Electric. The brand is more than 100 years old, and has received a number of awards for their social strategy. They make adjustments to their content for each network, and it shows.
Myth 3: Selling on Social is as Simple as Pitching My Products or Services
Truth: People aren’t on social media to be inundated with constant sales pitches. As part of your community, they want to feel valued. You accomplish this by creating a mix of content that educates and inspires them, rather than hard sells them. Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, try to stick to the 80/20 rule of social media, where only 20% of your content is promotional content about your brand.
Myth 4: Social Media is Free
Truth: Yes, the accounts themselves are free. But, your time and resources you spend on research, strategy, content creation, engagement, and analytics is not. Plus, if you’re looking to use any of the platforms paid advertising tools to gain traction and build an audience, you’ll be spending money there, too. Remember, time is money.
Myth 5: You Can’t Measure Social Media Results
Truth: It may be difficult to determine how to measure it and what metrics to use, but you can definitely measure the results. Take a look at things like likes, comments, responses, and shares, but the real value lies in your conversions. For instance, if 1,000 people saw your Facebook post about your new Kickstarter campaign, and 100 of them donated, then your 10% conversion rate tells you how successful your social campaign was.
Myth 6: More Followers = More Success
Truth: It’s easy to judge your success by the number of fans and followers you have, but the reality is this number has no direct bearing on how successful your social strategy is. If your community is small, you can be wildly successful if you’re making connections and turning to them into clients or loyal customers.
It’s possible to buy followers to inflate your numbers. Most of the time, these are not active accounts, and they certainly aren’t going to be targeted to match your ideal customer. There’s no point in having big numbers if those numbers won’t translate to paying customers in the future.
When you provide value and focus on engaging the audience you do have, it will naturally grow with time.
Myth 7: My Audience Will Come to Me
Truth: You’ll hear: “Create good quality content and the rest will follow.” But, without initial promotion of that content to get it in front of the eyes you want to see it, it likely won’t go anywhere. Once people see it, they’ll share and distribute it on their own, but you have to start that with an initial push.
Myth 8: I Must Use #AllTheHashtags
Truth: Hashtags are used to join common conversations. You should have a hashtag for an event like a Twitter party, but don’t expect it to become a trending topic. Hashtags should be used to make social media more user-friendly for those following it – not a way to blow all your marketing goals out of the water.
Are you surprised to see any of these myths debunked? How will this affect your social strategy from here on out? Are there other myths you’ve disproven along your social journey?