From a marketing perspective, social media has become something akin to the World Wide Web in the 1990s. Organizations know they need to participate, but they’re not quite sure what to do once they get there. The more communications-orineted businesses have hit the ground running, using social media as extensions of their other channels, augmenting their existing strategies and taking to the medium as naturally as they did the web when it first burst onto the scene as the game-changing medium that it was.
The question now is how do organizations whose core business is not communications-oriented integrate social media into their business strategy? There have been a number of “Social Media Experts” who have popped up to claim they have the answer to this question, and unfortunately they have given the clients wrong advice, or worse, simply lied to them about the effectiveness of their work. At the end of the day, just because you understand the dynamics of social media does not mean you understand your client’s business, and if you don’t understand your client’s business, ultimately, you won’t be successful.
Our objective for this “social distortion” series is to:
Common Myths about Social Media
1. Everybody is on social media
While social media has grown exponentially over the past few years, the reality is that it’s simply not on everyone’s radar as a business consideration. The key here is to understand YOUR customer base, then identify those within that group who are on social media before you kick off an effective engagement strategy.
2. Social media is solely a broadcast channel
There are many businesses that look at social media as a one-way medium, “a cheap and powerful bullhorn” that allows them to reach a large number of people. This is true, but the key to effective communication is engagement, not broadcasting. Find a way to genuinely engage your network instead of just selling to them.
3. You can’t measure your return on investment in social media
Oh, but you can! As you’ll see later in our “Social Distortion” series, there are many way to objectively quantify your return on investment for social media expenditures. There are tools to track your users, understand how they engage with your digital ecosystem and ultimately calculate that activity into a monetary value will give you a precise ROI.
4. If it doesn’t go viral, it wasn’t worth the effort.
While viral campaigns can have a great impact online, the real value to a business in the long-term is the ability to add value. The more potential customers know about your level of expertise in your field, the more likely they are to buy.
5. The more often you post to Facebook, the better your campaign will perform.
For most companies, posting more than once a day is probably too much. “Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm tends to favor posts from companies that have higher engagement rates,” says [TBD]. “Posting too often may mean that fewer people will see your future posts.” Statistically speaking, posts with images, videos and links perform much better than those comprised of just text. The takeaway here is to consider the quality of your posts, not just the quantity.
5 Ways Small Businesses Get Social Media Wrong, from Mashable
This recent piece is so relevant and applicable that we’ve extracted key elements for review and discussion. You can view the full article here.
1. Social Media Isn’t the Place for the Hard Sell
Social media is all about building relationships and growing trust. This means answering questions, providing helpful information, responding rapidly and serving as a trusted resource. Only five to ten percent of your social media activity (i.e. status updates or tweets) should be self-promotional.
2. Social Isn’t About Self-Promotion
Small businesses need to treat social media like a cocktail party among friends. To be liked, you have to be gracious, genuinely interested in others, and not dominate the conversation.
3. You Don’t Have to Be Everywhere
Navigating social media successfully doesn’t mean you need to be anywhere and everywhere. Instead, it’s about choosing one or two of the most relevant and effective channels for reaching your customers and focusing on those. Remember that a tepid or neglected social media presence will reflect poorly on your business.
4. You Don’t Have to Keep Up With the Big Brands
If you’re running a small business, you know there’s a big difference between your budget and that of Virgin America or Starbucks. Creating giveaways and contests is one of the most effective ways to generate new likes and improve overall engagement. For example, for your small business, don’t give away a bunch of iPads that you can’t afford. Instead, consider giving discounts, coupons or samples of your company’s services.
5. Social Media isn’t “Free”
Social media is far from free once you factor in the manpower it demands. These channels require constant commitment, from keeping fresh content on your accounts to engaging your community. If one employee spends approximately ten hours per week managing social media accounts, you can assign a hard cost to the effort. Small business owners need to understand the numbers behind every campaign, and that means factoring in everyone’s time and energy.
Next in our “Social Distortion” series, we’re going to delve into how organizations flounder by focusing on the wrong demographics and choosing the wrong social media channels.