Do you ever wonder if all that you hear about social media is true or just myths?
As is the case with any new technology, social media has spawned its share of misconceptions and myths that keeps people inert and stops them from interacting with others.
As a small-business owner or entrepreneur, you know the sales and marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10 years.
For example, a couple of years ago, who knew about social media?
But now, it can be one of the most effective methods to communicate with your current and potential customers. In the first instance, Facebook was designed initially for college mates to interact with one another, but it gradually evolved into a core business tool.
Consumers have now moved into the digital space, yet they still crave the attention of corporations they admire. Unfortunately, many brands are still getting stuck on social media, failing to effectively utilize this channel to create awareness, attract leads and grow their business.
It’s time to debunk the big myths that are keeping business owners and marketers on the social media sidelines. So lets go ahead and debunk some of the insane myths that you have heard.
Myth #1: My Customers Are not on Social Media
If there ever was a bigger stumbling block it’s this one. Seriously, this myth keeps more business people from interacting with potential customers through social media than any of the others.
The fun part is all you need is a little data to convince people that their target customers are indeed on social networks.
For instance, 80% of female Internet users have become fans of a product or brand on a social network site and 72% said they learned about a new product through social media. As the graph here shows, more than half of Facebook and Twitter users are over 35, not to mention LinkedIn.
Social networking is a true cultural phenomenon, and there is no demographic that isn’t represented substantially on one or more sites.
This chart shows demographic information for social media sites, demonstrating that they are accessed by a wide variety of age groups.
With evolution of Social Media insights, you can now target audiences that are likely to engage with you brand. Let me quote Larry Kim’s TechSuccess Interview:
“On their own, social ads have exploded and proven incredibly effective at promoting and amplifying content, but it’s the targeting capabilities that give them real commercial value.”
Myth #2: I Can’t Measure the Impact of Social Media on My Business
Since the interaction mechanisms are different with social media than traditional marketing, judging purchase intent and likely customers from social media behavior is a new skill for many marketers.
It doesn’t have to be overly complicated though, and if you put in place some of these methods to tie online behavior to offline actions, you can track the impact social media is having on your bottom line.
Pay close attention also to the referrals from social media sites on your web pages and these people’s behavior compared to users who get to your site through other means.
Myth #3: I Don’t Have The Time to Manage Social Media
Learning how to interact on social networks is very easy, because it simply involves talking with people and having candid conversations about interesting topics. Though you do need to spend some time interacting with people and posting useful, engaging content, the returns on your time should be enough to make social media interaction worthwhile.
After some basic exposure, you’ll see how similar social media interaction is to offline conversations, and it should come naturally.
Some helpful tools can make interaction a breeze, including Buffer for social media posting and HootSuite or TweetDeck for Twitter interaction to post updates to multiple profiles from a single interface.
Myth #4: If I Engage on Social Media Sites, I’ll Get Lots of Negative Comments
Nobody likes to hear negative feedback about their work, product or service. Many business people fear that their social media profiles will be overrun by people posting complaints and competitors “flaming” their brand. But the beauty of social media interaction is that transparency and responsiveness rule the day.
If a customer chooses to voice a complaint publicly, you have the chance to demonstrate your customer service ability to a wider audience. If the person is unreasonable and continues to post negative information, people observing the dialogue are more likely to admire your efforts to right the situation, rather take to heart the angry customer’s complaints.
Plus, sometimes your customer base does the heavy lifting for you, like this example from the American Airlines Facebook page.
Myth #5: I need to join every social network
Spreading yourself too thin can be more trouble than it’s worth. Not only do small-business owners have limited time and resources, but engaging every social channel is too time consuming for you too.
It’s important to research the specific social media channels your customers frequent and to target those channels. If you’re new to social media, check out Facebook, Twitter and, LinkedIn–all have expansive demographics and usage rates.
Myth #6: B2C Social Media Strategies Don’t Apply to B2B Companies
Similar marketing strategies, content, and platforms appeal to buyers at B2B companies and individual consumers alike.
In fact, a recent study by Eccolo Media reported that B2B buyers found vendors through the same channels as B2C companies, with LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook proving the most important.
In terms of the content, B2B buyers find case studies/success stories, technology guides, and white papers to be most useful when making purchasing decisions though they also consumed podcasts, emails, blog articles, infographics, videos and product brochures/data sheets to a lesser extent.
Though B2B buyers may prefer slightly different forms of content, they, just like B2C customers, still gravitate towards content that tells a story, reveals the human face of your business and fosters relationships based on shared values and experiences.
Myth #7: Social Media Is Too Hard
Well, this one isn’t a myth, but it’s worth addressing. Sure, successfully growing and interacting with a community on social networks require dedication and reasonable, sustained commitment.
If that sounds like hard work to you, well, it is, but the rewards justify the effort.
Take some pride and joy in the interactions you have with your community and soon, what may have felt like another item on your to-do list will actually be one of the best parts of your day.
When you start getting more sales and capturing purchase intent with social media interaction, then the hard work will be worth it.
Myth #8: Consumers Aren’t Reading Your Social Posts
Contrary to popular arguments, not only does your social content get read, it also has the ability to influence purchasing decisions. In fact, HubSpot concluded that in 2011, “67 percent of B2C companies and 41 percent of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook.”
However, it’s important to remember that your reach on Facebook is determined by a number of factors, one of which is fan engagement with your content.
Text-only status updates tend to perform poorly compared to images and links so, make sure to consider that when creating your social strategy. Well-respected corporations like Proctor & Gamble offer contests and engaging photography, send out coupons weekly and anoint very specific employees to be their brand ambassadors.
Remember, though, Facebook isn’t the end-all-be-all of social networks. No matter what the social network, any text, video, image, contest or coupon you publish will get read by consumers.
I hope these myths won’t hold you back from engaging in social media interaction any longer. There are customers out there waiting to talk to you and all you have to do is join the conversation.
Which other social media myths do you think need to be “debunked?” Have you fallen victim to any of these? I would love to hear your thoughts on social media myths? Leave your comments in the box below.