Myth 1: “Social marketing is great because it’s free.”
There are actually two myths here: one directly attributable to Social Media (SM) the other not.
Let’s deal with the latter first; nothing is great just because it’s free. In business, in order for something to be great it needs to provide tangible value (i.e. sales). There is no point doing something free if it doesn’t result in sales.
Secondly, whilst certain vehicles like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress are free, your time is not. SM takes time to do right because as well as having to develop the content to populate it (which may not be free in itself), you also need to be proactive in it, responding to customers etc. So you need to consider the cost of your time, plus the cost of content (e.g. if you run promotions those will cost you money through decreased revenue per sale) and premium tools (website hosting, LinkedIn premium status or analytics tools).
Myth 2: “Everyone’s doing it, so I need to.”
If they were jumping off a cliff would you do that as well? Just because they are doing it doesn’t mean it is working for them. If it is unlikely to provide value (i.e. sales or moving people closer to a sale) then SM can be a distraction. Ask yourself, is their business model the same as yours? Premium businesses will probably not require SM, whilst more populist business will find it more profitable for them? Can you afford to do it both in time and expense? What are the opportunity costs of doing it? This is especially true for small businesses where resources are scarce.
Myth 3: I can just post our press releases on social media
You can, but you will get little traction. The point of SM is to provide customers with an outlet through which to engage & communicate with a company/brand. An outlet that is more personable, more conversational and engaging. You are more likely to get feedback from people than on a webpage so your SM interaction needs to be more than just posting things. It needs to be responsive. It needs to draw people into a conversation. If you simply want to post things for people to read, then there are other means to do it that are more efficient and effective – e.g. Press release section on your website.
Myth 4: “I need to be everywhere, dominating every type of social media”
Again, two separate myths here. Firstly, you don’t have to be everywhere, just where your audience is. If that is only Twitter, then focus on that. If it is Foursquare then make sure you are visible there. And if they are not there, then don’t. Focus of effort is the key. Simply be present where your users are. Considering what is required for effective social media marketing, the best thing you could do may be to invest all your time and energy into one or two sites your audience use regularly, rather than trying to spread yourself too thin across a large number of channels.
Myth 5: “Twitter is a tool for egomaniacs to tell people what they had for breakfast.”
The honest answer is that for some this is true and in its embryonic stage Twitter was a bit like that. However, it’s developed so much in the 5 years it has been around becoming a major source of news, thought leadership content distribution and promotions. The key is to determine if Twitter is for you and, if so, how are you going to use it (what type of content are you going to push out) in order to move people closer to that all important sale.
Myth 6: Facebook is more for my kids, not for my business.
I have a personal view about brands and FB (i.e. I’d rather they weren’t there as it feels like a huge move away from what I thought the essence of the site was – but that’s something for another post). On a more objective level, FB can work for some companies (I believe B2C will find the engagement easier). They can promote events, post videos, images, run competitions, run offers. But again, the key is to understand (a) are your customers there? (b) how do they interact with the site? and (c) how can you enhance that experience so that they move closer to buying what you’re selling?
Myth 7: Social media is my marketing director’s job
Anyone can participate in SM on your behalf – from the CEO, to an agency to the tea boy. They simply need clear guidelines on how to engage. The last thing you want is a mistweet. If that does happen then follow Jay Baer’s advice on how to handle it.
Myth 8: The threat of receiving negative public posts and complaints is too high
Yes, SM will make you a much more visible target. You can either bury your head and ignore it (as you are probably doing now with the offline conversations that are happening) or you can tackle them head on and try to turn the dissenters into advocates. Understand their motivations for saying what they are saying and the context and then take the appropriate action. Having visibility of those conversations can actually highlight serious problems within your business and showing you are taking steps to resolve them will go a long way to appeasing some of your worst critics. See it as constructive criticism rather than malicious.
Myth 9: “This thing’s useless – I tried it for a month and it didn’t work.”
I’m going to disagree with Memeburn slightly here. Depending on your tactic SM can give you pretty immediate results – e.g. promotion such as coupon downloads or time limited offers to go instore. However, these tactics should be used wisely and as part of a bigger SM strategy (driving long term advocacy and sales, which does take some time to see), which would be part of an even bigger Marketing plan. Don’t fall for the fallacies that are likes/fans/followers, you ultimately need to measure how SM impacts your bottom line – how many sales am I generating from SM and is this better than doing something else?
Myth 10: “Our customers don’t use social media sites.”
Do you know for sure? Have you researched it? Most industries do have some semblance of following/interest in Twitter/LIn/FB; so do your research. If they are there, jump on that train. If they are not, look at other tactics.
Myth 11: “Doing Social Media will be enough”
This really depends on your business – if it is online then possibly, but with bricks and mortar you need more. Social Media is often seen as a panacea but it is just a tool; nothing more than that. Using it on its own limits your reach and Pepsi’s current demise points to that (obviously it cannot all be blamed on SM but it did impact on results).
Myth 12: “If I launch it they will come”
Whilst this may work for the bigger, more established brands, it is not the case for your ‘everyday Joe Bloggs’. You need to find, attract, nurture and grow your audience in order to build momentum which will then lead to a bigger audience. Launching a product/service, this article by Guy Kawasaki is worth a read. Whilst it is a little easier for him as he already has an established brand, some elements make sense – again, pick and choose those that will drive the greatest incremental revenue without distracting you from doing business.
So what might this look like practically?
Let’s say for example you have just opened a new coffee shop. You are limited by trade from passing traffic but there are a couple of things you can do to increase that. However your budget is limited and you can only use 4 types of media. This is by no means a definitive plan, but hopefully one that shows how SM can/should integrate with other tactics.
In my opinion the things you would need are: a website (or a Facebook Fan page; as both would fulfil the same purpose), a Foursquare/SCVNGR presence, a Twitter account and some local radio advertising. Here is how I would use them:
– Use radio to promote the opening of your coffee shop, telling people where it is, and why they should come… you may wish to consider an offer to drive initial traffic. You can also use it to drive people to you FB/website.
– Use FS/SCVNGR, to allow people to check in and run competitions to keep people engaged and coming back using game dynamics – take photos of weekly mayors (if they change) and post them on your profile so you can show people how successful it is and how people enjoy going there. It will also give people who have never been a sense of what the atmosphere is like. You can use some of the updates and games and promote then on your FB/website.
– Use your FB/website to promote services/recipes/deals of the day. It will also give you a chance to post any photos you have. You can post videos of the different coffee recipes you do so people can do them at home. If you run music/comedy/poetry nights (something that complements your environment) you can post videos there. If during the days (when business is slow) you use children’s activities to drive traffic, again these mediums allow you to promote that. You can use these to show your Twitter feeds and FS/SCVNGR activity
– Using Twitter will enable you to be quite spontaneous with offers or RAKs. It is all about promoting what you are about and how you do business and being quite personal. You can send out updates about new content on your FB/website, new mayorships and new staff.
Beyond this there are the traditional in-store communications – e.g. communicating all of the above to join the dots. All these should create a sense of belonging within your audience that should drive immediate purchases with the offers/games and repeat purchases through activity that drives them back to your store.
Whilst these are just some relatively inexpensive ideas, remember that you do need to devote time to do this. Possibly as much as 1-2hrs a day. However, if you divide that by your staff and have some editorial calendar/plan then you will find that this will be easier.
And don’t forget, only do it if it makes you money (both in the short or long term).