Just a few short years ago, companies questioned whether they should use social media to connect with key audiences. But, with as much as 72% of all internet users active on social media—936 million on Facebook worldwide, 1 billion on YouTube, and 270 million on Twitter—the question has evolved into how companies should use social media to connect with their audience.
These statistics are growing every day. It’s no wonder why social media has become the fuel driving the modern marketing machine! So, how can we better use social media?
Before thinking of a strategy for better social media optimization, let’s re-examine the common our outdated myths about social media that we simply need to let go.
What separates fact from fiction? The truth from the fibs? The internet is brimming with social media misconceptions about how to ensure a high return on investment with social media campaigns. These fallacies actually travel faster, farther, and wider than they do in other industries, simply due to the very medium through which they have evolved…digital communication.
Here’s a roundup of the top 10 most common social media marketing myths and how you can debunk them before your next planning meeting.
Myth 1: If you aren’t on every social media platform, your strategy won’t work
Brands need to focus their efforts where they are most effective, and this holds true for social media. We speak about social media in generalities, but there are nuances to every platform. To best serve your audience, you must go to where you’re target audiences are spending their time.
A company never needs to be active on all social media sites, though it might be beneficial to claim handles on the top-performing ones in case your social strategies change or evolve over time. Instead, companies should be active on the platforms that work for them and make sense for their brand.
In order to let this myth go, reflect on your company’s function and role in the lives of your audience. Decide which accounts you will prioritize and emphasize, and how each social media platform will aid in your strategic engagement goals.
Myth 2: Publish content and people will engage
With millions of blogs posted, tweets exchanged, and purchases made online daily, standing out among the feed is more important than ever. Simply put, it’s not enough to produce content on your social media channels, you need to be actively engaged with your audiences. You need to have a content extension program in place to ensure the necessary reach required to get your target audience to take action.
To let this myth go, consider how often you want to be promoting content and how you will work within the confines of each platform in order to generate engagement, clicks and retain attention.
Myth 3: Social Media will take all your time
Social media marketing is not a regular job; you have to be active 24/7/365 to attain the best results. However, we’ve come a long way in terms of social media management, and there are several programs available to help you automate your content publishing and alert you to content seeding a response.
53% users who mention a brand on Twitter expect a response within an hour. The percentage increases to 72% for those with a complaint. Another interesting set of statistics reveals that people aged 35-44 are the keenest late night shoppers, with 41% of this age group claiming to log on for late-night purchases.
53% users who tweet at a brand expect a response within an hour.
And when purchasing online, 71% visitors expect help within five minutes.
To let this myth go, ensure you are both scheduling content to go live outside of the traditional work day and that you have a plan in place to offer customer service quickly – around the clock in necessary.
Myth 4: Post, repost, repeat, works
While it is true that only a small portion of your social media audience is going to see your live content, reposting the exact same content over and over again (or worst of all, setting your Facebook posts to auto-post to Twitter), runs the risk of annoying your followers into clicking that unfollow button. Be cautious around reposting the same articles and links over and over.
Research also shows that social media posts perform better, attracting more engagement and shares, when they contain other forms of media.
To let this myth go, explore adding GIFs and photos to your Twitter links, play with headlines and evaluate which perform best on what platform. Ensure you are publishing a mix of promotional and useful content.
Myth 5: Social media is the best tool to gain new customers
In most cases, your primary audience on social will be current or past customers. As such, you can look to drive loyalty through repeat purchases and brand ambassadorship through social endorsement. However, brands need to stop expecting social media to be a primary driver of immediate, direct sales for new customers.
To rethink this myth, view social media as a means of cultivating customer retention and increasing brand loyalty.
Myth 6: A social media presence will open us up to negative comments
Social media is a two-way street. You are bound to acquire negative feedback or complaints, which you shouldn’t ignore. Arguably, social media is the perfect platform to engage your B2B or B2C audience effectively when it comes to feedback—good or bad. The problem with this perception is that the conversation is already happening. Without social media monitoring, you’re simply not able to respond.
The silver lining to a complaint is that it opens the door to dialogue. Not all conversations will be positive, but it is important to understand that receiving negative feedback on social media will not ruin your company, but being ignorant of its existence might.
Myth 7: Social media is a marketing channel for sales
As a one-to-many communication channel, social media should not be seen as another one-way sales or marketing channel. Promotion that directly advertises goods or services needs to be mixed in with standalone value. Think education and entertainment first.
There is great value in offering your audience content that helps them succeed. Sometimes that content is going to be a solution in the form of a product or service. But keep relationship-building and community building front and center of your strategy. Content marketing pieces should relate to your business, but not always be about your business.
Myth 8: The bigger the following, the better
Particularly in the fashion and lifestyle space, the purchasing of followers – through paid advertising or sketchier means, is rampant. The belief that bigger is better leads brands to put a follower count above all else when it comes to success metrics.
The truth is that there is very little value to be gained from adding thousands followers who are disinterested in your company, and are likely coming in from dead or inactive accounts.
Content marketing pieces should relate to your business, but not always be about your business.
It’s easy to see if a company has clearly paid for their following, which reduces your credibility and puts your entire reputation with your genuine following at risk. Instead, focus on increasing engagement with your existing audience.
Myth 9: Thou shall not promote competitors
The majority of social media marketers believe that sharing competitors’ content will damage their own image, business, and brand reputation. This is a fallacy. In fact, sharing valuable content produced by your competitors can lead to partnerships and goodwill.
Now, you may not want to share the marketing or promotions of a direct competitor, but an article penned by the CEO of a like-minded company shows an awareness and interest in your industry beyond sales, and your audience is likely to appreciate the recommendation.
These brands may also reciprocate the gesture by sharing your content.
Myth 10: Go for reach over niche
As an example, many social marketers do not take Google+ seriously because they don’t see a specific use for promoting their business. However, according to Marketing Land, more than a billion and a half photos are uploaded at Google+ photos each week from more than 300 million active users present in the Google+ Stream.
Now, this isn’t to say that Google+ is right for your business, but social media platforms that are regarded as too niche or emerging for serious effort, could be a serious miss. There are platforms that cater to everyone. From foodies to the cat-obsessed, and these niche sites can be a win for brands looking to effectively connect with a particular audience.
So be flexible and test out different platform to find the right social media mix.
Social media offers compelling, impactful opportunities to drive consumer loyalty while effectively telling a multi-media, content-rich story about a particular brand. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach here, it’s all about exploration, testing and continual refinement to figure out what works.
About Nina Pineda