Three Common Myths About Social Media

It always amazes me the common expectations businesses have for what social media could actually do for them. After all, they had been told that social media was free, that an apprentice could do it in their spare time and that it was an easy way to generate leads for their businesses.

Unfortunately, none of these statements is true, which is part of the problem with social media: People believe the myths instead of the facts. So let’s unravel some of these myths and explain the truths to use social media to its fullest potential.

Myth 1: Social media is free.

Social media is not free. In fact, there are very real costs associated with it. If you produce a video to upload to YouTube, there’s a cost associated with that. If you write an e-book to share with your Facebook followers, there’s a cost associated with that. And if you create an infographic to share on LinkedIn, there’s a cost associated with that. What’s more, those outside costs (i.e., producing the video, e-book or infographic) don’t include the internal costs for the labour you’ll need to run and manage the social media campaign.

The bottom line is that social media is not free. There are real costs associated with a full-fledged social media campaign. With that in mind, be sure that you have a budget for outside costs and that you plan for the internal labour costs as well.

Myth 2: An apprentice can run your social media campaign for you.

Here’s what typically happens for many executives: A trainee walks through the door and makes a few comments about a cool new social media campaign, and you realise that they know a heck of a lot more about social media than you do.

That’s probably true – they do know more about social media than you do, but that doesn’t mean you should unleash your work experience person on your unsuspecting prospects and customers. After all, your apprentice probably doesn’t know about your company brand or tone of voice, or the potential lawsuits that might happen if your company says something online that’s misleading.

Even if your work experience person knows more about social media than you do, they should not be running your social media campaign. Can they participate? Yes. Can they make suggestions? Yes. Can they even handle some of the tactical aspects of social media? Yes. But can they run the entire campaign? No.

Myth 3: Social media will generate leads for your business.

Many executives think the No. 1 reason to run a social media campaign is to generate leads for their businesses. After all, isn’t the whole idea that a prospect will see a post on social media and then click through to your website? And once they do that, aren’t they supposed to eventually turn into a customer?

The truth is that people who click through on social media campaigns are passersby, not guests. A passerby is someone who pops in, takes a quick look around and then exits, often never to be heard from again. A guest is someone who has a relationship with your brand and keeps coming back for more.

How do you get more guests for your brand? According to surveys, email marketing is still more effective than other channels, with participants rating it as the best return on investment, ahead of social media, paid search, display ads and even direct mail.

Email marketing allows you to continuously connect with your target market so that they go from being passersby to guests. But does that mean you should abandon social media altogether? No. It just means you should use social media for what it’s best for, which is to build relationships with existing customers so that they stay customers for longer.

What’s the bottom line? Social media is a good way to build awareness for your brand, and an excellent way to build a relationship with your existing customers, but it’s not very good at converting prospects into customers, as you might have been led to believe previously.