This June, I celebrate five years in business. And, if I thought owning a business was tough, I had no idea that owning a social media business would be even more difficult. An ever-changing, ever-challenging industry, social media is full of surprises. There are days when I feel like I do more educating than actually running the business. In fact, this past weekend, I started thinking about some requests, inquiries and objections I've heard over the years. People have some pretty crazy assumptions about social media - and it's my job to set the record straight. Here are the 10 most ridiculous things I have ever heard.
I need to post 10-70 times per day. Customers and prospects often share all kind of 'rules' they've heard about social media - and posting frequency is one I get a lot. Whether it's keeping up with competitors or trying to get people to act now, I find that multi-level marketing consultants tend to make the most grandiose claims about posting incessantly. To get people on the train, they think they have to blow the whistle 50 times a day. I don't know about you, but if I heard from a business 50 times a day, I would immediately disengage. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to posting frequency, but quality, relevancy and consistency should be the most significant.
I'll hire a young person to do it. The I'll-have-the-intern-to-do-it mentality is surprisingly still a huge misconception about social media. Don’t make the lazy mistake of assuming the youngest person on your staff is the best equipped and most eager to take on your business’s social media responsibilities. Navigating the mechanics of social media is just the starting point; it's more important to know how and why you'll use social media - the 'who' will follow.
I need 10 million followers. I will buy them. There's something to be said for social proof, but if you have 10 million followers and no one's engaging with your content, what's the point? I advocate spending a little money to advertise on the channels to help maximize your reach, especially if you're just starting out, but I do not recommend buying fans or followers. We had a client in the travel business who did this once. When we ran his Twitter account through our software, we found he had 33,000 spam followers. It took us weeks to clear them out. There's no instant growth mechanism for building an engaged audience - and there's a fundamental difference between acquiring a following from paid advertising and buying a spam following.
How do I make my content go viral? Virility is short lived - and somewhat pointless, especially for small businesses. Content that “goes viral” may be good for a quick boost, but this content often lacks staying power, and merely equates to empty calories when it comes to small business branding. Social media is a relationship-building tool, and strong relationships take time.
Social media will replace websites. Social media is not nor should it be a replacement for other communication vehicles, especially your website. In fact, a website should be the heart of your marketing efforts and it's essential that you own your content and web space. As we’ve seen over the years, social media sites change a lot. And there is very little we can do about it. I would never advise someone to put all of their eggs in one basket, especially one that can disappear without a trace.
I can't do social because I'm not a writer. There are millions of people using social media and I'm pretty sure most of them are not writers. While I believe writing and communication skills are essential, especially for maintaining a regular blog, it's important to play to your strengths. For example, if you’re a strong speaker, YouTube may be an outlet that you can embrace without having to do much more work. Are you great with one-liners? If so, then Twitter and its 140-character limit may be right up your alley. If you have a strong photographer on staff, maybe Pinterest is worth considering. If you find you're not confident in your writing ability but you want to develop written content, I highly recommend hiring a freelance writer to help with your content development needs.
My industry is too boring for social media. I don't care if you are a heating technician, a trucker, or an insurance salesperson - any type of business can be social. I know because we've worked with all of these businesses before. And, if you don't believe me, think of toilet paper. Even Charmin can be social - utilizing some of the most sophisticated branding campaigns I've ever seen - and even creating an app for finding clean toilets.
I don't need a strategy. Using social media effectively is more than knowing how to tweet or utilizing automated software. A successful social media presence requires a solid plan of action and it's often the result of establishing clear goals, selecting the appropriate channels for reaching the target audience, developing engaging content and synergizing efforts among business operations and outside marketing efforts. Without a concrete game plan, how do we know where to spend our time and energy?
Social media will make money for me. Many believe that if they invest xx dollars into something, then they will logically achieve xx more dollars. This formula is a problem because businesses are banking on social media 'working' for them and generating a quick to immediate return. The hard truth is that social media – by itself – will not generate revenue. However, this assumption is not to be confused with the next one....
There is no ROI. The failure to achieve social media ROI can be frustrating; kind of like attending several networking events without generating solid leads. But, a return is highly attainable with the right mindset, a few foundational pieces, and an integrated, goal-driven approach. In fact, some of our clients have actualized a return of four times what they pay us to help them execute their plan - and the irony is that, for most, their approach was not about making money.
This list could go on and on - and I'm sure I'll hear even more ridiculous assumptions as the years go by.
How do you separate social media fact from fiction?
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