7 Social Media Fallacies

While social media marketing has become mainstream and is used effectively across product categories by firms in the Fortune 500 and Inc 500, misconceptions, especially those related to marketing still remain.

One of the challenges for marketers trying to develop effective social media strategies is having to educate senior management on the topic.

Here are seven social media marketing fallacies that still exist.

  1. Social media requires Facebook. With a user base that makes it the equivalent of the third largest country in the world after China and India, it’s understandable that marketers feel it’s important to be where people are. While this is true for mass-market consumer products, it doesn’t hold for every social media platform or audience segment. RECOMMENDATION: Determine which social media platforms and content formats work best for your audience. Also consider what your business objectives are and how you want to use social media to achieve them. For many businesses, blogs and video are better places to begin.
  2. Social Media is another promotional channel where we can push our message. This is the “enough about me, what do you think about me” approach to social media marketing. The reality is that social media is the opposite of a promotional conduit for your marketing messages. Social media is an on-going interaction where you should send ten messages about your prospects, customers and the public for every message about your firm. RECOMMENDATION: Use social media to engage directly with customers and prospects. It’s not about you, but rather it’s about your customers. Focus on what your customers want and how you can fulfill those needs.
  3. Social media can be performed by a college intern. Every marketer looking to cut expenses wants a Facebook savvy intern who’s low priced or free. RECOMMENDATION: Have seasoned marketer who understands your brand, your business and your customers develop and execute your social media marketing plans. This executive can hire and closely supervise an intern do some of the tactical execution.
  4. Social media is freeWhile social media platforms may be free to use in their basic format, social media isn’t free. It requires intensive human engagement, tailored content and related tracking and analysis to participate in the social media conversation. This translates to head count and related expenses.  RECOMMENDATION: Assess the level of participation and engagement required. One way to accomplish this is to research the number of staff that similar size businesses in your category and/or geographic area use. Also include money to cover the cost of social media content creation and related analytics. Then develop a ballpark expense factor. (Here’s help to hide your social media budget.)
  5. Social media is concerned with getting people to like you. Building a following on Facebook or other social media platform doesn’t ensure that these people will become big supporters of your brand. In fact, they may only be raising their hand for a coupon or other gift. More importantly, social media is about engaging with prospects and customers to achieve goals that are in line with your overall business objectives. RECOMMENDATION: Set social media marketing goals that are aligned with those of your business. Once you have these goals, decide what actions are required and how you will track them.
  6. Social media only requires three tweets per day. Don’t laugh! I’ve had prospects tell me that they thought that they had a robust social media program with only three tweets. More important than number, your Twitter exchanges (or other forms of social media exchange) must show that you’re engaged and responsive. RECOMMENDATION: Determine where your target audience is on social media platforms and the type of information that they find useful. You can ask them via Twitter or your Facebook page. You can also look at your competitors’ more successful social media executions for ideas.
  7. Social media content can be created by our customers and other visitors. The basic rule of thumb is that 1% of visitors create content or do something significant on your social media execution or website, 9% of visitors do something minimal such as vote or comment, and 90% of visitors just lurk. RECOMMENDATION: Determine what your firm needs social media content for and how it can be created effectively. How much editing do you plan on doing? Can you hire people who work with your organization to create content.  Think broadly across your organization and remove barriers to participation.

If your senior management team still believes one or more of these social media fallacies, consider putting together a presentation to show how the social media landscape has and is changing. Underlying each of these points is that social media tactics need to be put into the context of larger marketing and business plans.

Are there any other fallacies that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they and why would you add them?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Hat tip to K.D. Paine, author of Measure What Matters, whose eMetrics New York presentation inspired this post.

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