No longer an outlier, social media marketing has become as indispensable in promoting businesses and brands as the Internet has become to millions of consumers worldwide. With the explosion of clever apps, ingenious platforms, and mobile devices, new and exciting opportunities continue to present themselves. There’s no choice for modern marketers, we must evolve.

While seasoned marketing executives know better, several businesses large and small are just beginning to develop their online presence and may be grappling with the logic of these seven social media myths that refuse to go the way of the dinosaur. Let’s clear a few things up, shall we?

Myth 1: Social media marketing is free.

Yes and no. While it is true that businesses can sign up and create a profile on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. for free, a monetary value simply must be placed on the time spent to develop the platforms and the creation and implementation of an online social media strategy.

A strong plan will include assigning responsibility, creating content and an ensuing schedule, exploring productivity tools, monitoring your outreach, building relationships, putting in place and measuring key performance indicators, etc. Social media marketing must be nurtured, grown, picked, and pruned – shaped and reshaped to deliver the highest yield possible. That takes time, and time is money.

Takeaway: Whether you outsource your social media marketing to a professional firm or handle it in-house, there’s a cost associated with the program every single step of the way.

Myth 2: I’ll get a neighborhood teenager to handle my social networking, they know the ‘net.

Sure, it might be a good idea to recruit a youngster to show you the ropes – how to develop a profile, some tips and tricks on how to get the most from the many applications available, and how to search for an audience but after that it is your responsibility to shape your brand and your message. After all, you’re running a business, not a high school dance.

Your social media communications plan must be as carefully crafted as any of your other marketing efforts. Not only should you not cede responsibility of your social media messaging to some young hipster that goes to school with your kid, you should tightly monitor all social media messages that come from your business or your brand.

Takeaway: Social media marketing impacts your business. It’s a business-building tactic and should be treated as such.

Myth 3: If I get involved in social media marketing the ‘haters’ will hijack my marketing message.

Guess what, whether you are using social media or not, people are talking about their experience with your business and your brand. Creating a social media presence allows you to monitor what’s being said and offers you the opportunity to publicly respond to less than favorable comments, winning the customer (and others that may have been swayed by the negative post) back.

According to a recent Harris Interactive/Right Now Customer Experience Impact Report, the way you handle complaints can determine your customer’s satisfaction. In fact, 26 percent of dissatisfied customers that do not give you the opportunity to right a situation in person share their view of the experience on a social media network.

50 percent of them look for a response within a week and if it is not forthcoming, they may take their business elsewhere. Of the dissatisfied customers that post a complaint and receive a response, the study showed that 46 percent were pleased and 22 percent went on to post a positive comment about the business.

Takeaway: Big business or small, the general public is already talking about you. Get in the game and join the conversation. Accept kudos with humility and grace and combat the complaints with respect and clarity.

Myth 4: I built a Facebook page therefore I am a social media marketer.

While Facebook is a monster when it comes to social media marketing, there are a number of other digital places that your customers are congregating. Once you’ve identified the optimum platforms for your business, the work begins.

Social media marketing – on Facebook and elsewhere – is not a ‘set it and forget it’ tool. It takes commitment, tenacity, time, and strategy to identify the best platforms for your business, consistently engage your target market, and develop business-driving relationships.

Takeaway: Social media marketing is a science and a skill. It takes a well balanced mixed of media and messages, not just a stab at the popular platforms.

Myth 5: My business must have a presence on every popular social media platform.

If you love rock ‘n roll are you going to buy season tickets for the opera? Probably not, that’s not where ‘your people’ are. The truth of the matter may very well be that Puccini’s tragic love story, La Boheme, doesn’t resonate with you like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s southern rock anthem, Freebird.

It’s like that in social media marketing as well. In order for your message to have an impact, it must reach an interested party and be relevant to their world. By identifying the segment of the population you’d like to reach at the outset of your program, coupled with researching platform user statistics to identify the most likely places that this segment is gathering and discussing relevant topics, your program will reach your best prospects and customers.

Takeaway: Content may be King but relevance is Queen. And everyone knows that if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy, right?

Myth 6: Using ‘friend-farms’ to buy ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ will build my business.

Sorry, Charlie, it just does not work that way. In fact, pumping up your social media numbers via a bulk purchase does nothing but trim your stash of cash.

Would you send an unsolicited email to an unqualified list? That email marketing effort would fall on deaf ears, no matter how many addresses you send it to. You’d be much better served building your following by sharing relevant content, interesting news, and an occasional marketing message.

Takeaway: Build a loyal following slowly and steadily, one valued relationship at a time, and you’ll get better results, more engagement, and customers that care about your message as opposed to numbers on a screen.

Myth 7: Social media marketing has minimal value because it can not be measured.

On the contrary, not only can you review the reach, interaction, and engagement as well as a host of demographic details about your audience on each individual platform’s analytics or other monitoring sites, Google Analytics allows you to set up and review goals – including monetary value of conversions gained through social media platforms, funnels and other reports to help determine the conversion effectiveness of each platform.

This goldmine of information is critical in understanding the platforms that are referring engaged visitors, how visitors navigate through your website, measuring the most commonly shared content on your site, and will help you understand how to fine-tune your social media impact.

Takeaway: Social media marketing ROI, like other pieces of your marketing program, can and should be measured. Begin by observing your current program and then set measurable goals, implement your plan of action, review your results, and revise as necessary.



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