It seems like everyone today has got an opinion about how you should use social media to find success online. And like most topics where opinions are shared readily, most of these points will lead you astray.
The fact of the matter is social media is a lively, vivacious entity where you are allowed to connect, build relationships and engage with your audience while simultaneously establishing your brand’s overall tone, personality and message.
The key is, don’t get weighed down by the onslaught of ridiculous advice that many charlatans are trying to spew in attempts to label themselves as “social media experts.” No one is an expert in social media—we’re all learning, playing, engaging. Social media, like most marketing and tech-based tools and tactics today, is ever-changing—and the one guaranteed true piece of advice for any brand is to stay true to yourself.
In the meantime, I’ve broken down the top 10 most ludicrous myths about social media. These are stories we’ve heard and things that you should be weary of when launching your own social strategy:
10 Big Social Media Myths:
- The More Followers, The Merrier: This is probably the most common thing we hear day-in, day-out. Businesses are constantly in search of garnering thousands of new followers, instantly. Brands typically go to the point of buying followers from fake accounts to give the impression that they’re popular on a given social platform. This is absurd. While we’re all big fans of the “fake it til you make it” mantra—this takes it just a step too far. One hundred loyal fans, who interact with your brand regularly and who buy your product, are 100x more valuable than a list of a thousand subscribers who either don’t know you exist or worse, don’t exist themselves.
- Social Media Is Your Own Personal Broadcast Channel: As much as any given person may be the biggest fan of your brand—they do not want to hear all about you, all the time. Just like in any relationship—social media is a give and take. It’s something we say to all our clients—with social media you have to earn the right to bring the conversation back to you. You cannot start off just talking about you, your product, your service. People tune it out. Rather, start a dialogue with your audience about them. Get to know them, their interests and then find a way, once you’ve established a connection, to bring it back to your goals.
- Social Media Can Replace Your Website: While Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+ are great platforms to showcase your brand and your services—these are just platforms. They’re compliments to your overall online identity. A website is your first and last line of defense online. When a potential customer searches for you—they immediately check for your site. After that, they go to your Facebook or Twitter profiles—which should inevitably send them back to your site. Social media provides a fun foray into the mind of your brand—but your site will always serve as the main place for converting a lead to a client.
- You Can’t Track Success or ROI: Fiddlesticks. There are plenty of cool assessment and analysis tools out there today. Good content marketing experts will provide you with monthly, bimonthly or quarterly assessments—where you can track where users are coming from, demographics, psychographics, and even identify actions taken on your site (purchases, article devouring, listening to a podcast or watching a slide-show). From there you should be able to leverage all your known data and apply it to create a more streamlined and targeted approach to your marketing.
- Blogging Is a Waste of Time: No matter what anyone tells you—blogging is never a waste of time. It’s the most essential part to any social & online strategy. We’ve talked about it before—keeping a regular blog schedule helps raise your rankings on Google, establishes you as a thought leader, and generates a loyal following of readers. If time is really an issue, you can hire a content marketing team (ahem, cough, cough—like us), to handle all the writing, management and strategizing behind your blog.
- You Have to Be Everywhere! The only person who has to be everywhere at once is Santa Claus. And even that’s only one night a year. Beyond that, no one has to be everywhere and certainly not at once. Certain platforms are better suited for certain businesses. Some platforms shouldn’t even be considered for certain brands, as it’s a drain of energy and resources. It’s best to create a social strategy that focuses on your brand’s strengths and target audience. It’s better to be strongly situated and active on 2 platforms, than spread out across 6 or more where you rarely, if ever, post or interact.
- There’s No Point to Google+: Oh, silly you. Did you fall for that line? It’s okay, that’s a pretty common occurrence. Google+ (now Google My Business) is either being heralded or slammed—it seems like it just depends on the day. In fact, Google+ is a great platform for multiple reasons, the main being it’s relationship to SEO rankings. Posts from Google+ are being indexed in the SERPs, and authors’ profile pages show up next to results, improving click-through rates on any given search. But again, like I mentioned in #6 above, this isn’t a site to just set-up and leave. Make sure that if you pursue G+, that you understand your audience, community and how to leverage the SEO benefits.
- Respond Immediately, Or Else: Despite popular belief, social media will survive—and people will be able to handle it—if you don’t respond to a tweet or Facebook post instantaneously. Like email, the invention of smart phones has destroyed us a bit on what we deem an acceptable lead-time with response rates. But social media, in essence, is managed by real people. We all have a myriad of things going on at any given moment. The world will continue to revolve, and your brand will survive, if you wait an hour or ten. Promise.
- The More Hashtags, The Merrier: Oh dear lord. When was the last time you searched for something solely by looking up the hashtag? #justinbiebergotarrested. Well, this may come as a shock, but social platforms are getting better at search. You can find a subject matter without the cute little pound sign. And hashtagging up a tweet just distracts people from your message. Granted, who doesn’t love a good hashtag? Just, use them wisely. #no #sense #going #overboard.
- Social Media Gives People a Space to Bash My Brand: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if someone wants to say something negative about your brand, they already have a venue. And it’s a big one: the internet. Not having an active Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp page doesn’t protect you from angst-ridden wrath. In fact, social profiles have proven to be more beneficial in helping brands get through a negative moment. Skype grew their following by being aware of issues, talking directly with customers during a service blackout and more. Surprisingly enough, you can build more credibility for your brand by using social media than by avoiding it all together.
So there you have it. Ten myths that you can now set free as you embark on your social strategy for the year. The bigger message is: jump on in, the water’s great!