Five Social Media Myths that Can Cripple Marketing

by | Aug 3, 2011 | Blog, Blog Archive | 0 comments

Don't roll the dice by believing these five social media myths.

When it comes to social media, even the experts learn something new every day.  Most CMO’s admit that developing the expertise they need to effectively use social media is a key priority.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths out there that can derail almost any social media marketing plan.  Here are five that come up often in talks with corporate marketing.  Make sure you don’t fall for any of them!

Myth #1:  Social Media is free.

Robert Heinlein’s famous motto TANSTAFL applies here, as everywhere else in life.  (“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”)  Yes, many of the tools used in social media are free or very low cost — it costs nothing to set up a Facebook page, for example.  But planning and executing an effective social media campaign isn’t any more “free” than executing a great email or PR campaign.  You have to pay for the time to plan and execute the strategy, the creative inspiration to make it memorable, and the tools to manage, monitor, report, archive, and analyze the results.  There’s an even more unfortunate corollary to this myth:  if you create compelling content, people will find it.  It wasn’t true when Ralph Waldo Emerson made his comment that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door, and it isn’t true today.  Yes, search engines can find content with the right keywords — but not enough people will find your content without marketing help. 

How much does a typical social media campaign cost?  Something on the order of $50,000, according to one survey. 

Myth #2:  Email use is declining.

If your target market is under age 18, this may be a true statement.  Or it might not be.  The Radicati Group is the leading industry analyst firm tracking email usage.  And they show that about 20% of social media users under age 18 use email less than they did two years ago — but 16% use it more than they did two years ago.  Every other age group uses it at least 20% more than they did two years ago, with the biggest gain coming from users 19-24 (37%) and users over 45 (28%).  Radicati didn’t spell out why email usage increases in the early 20’s, but common sense will show that’s when most people get their first full-time job — and business email use continues to increase annually.

Myth #3:  A Facebook fan is worth hundreds of dollars.

The number that repeated most often around the Internet is $136 per Facebook fan per year in increased sales through cross-selling, but some estimates have put the number as high as $450.  Here’s the truth.  A Facebook fan isn’t worth anything unless that fan has a relationship with your brand, and you are reaching him or her with messages across multiple channels. 

Just because someone clicks on a +1 or ‘Like’ button doesn’t guarantee that they want to have a long-term relationship with your brand.  All it says is that, at that moment, they agreed with something you said.   Converting someone from a browser to a fan is step one in a multi-step process.  Browsers become fans.  Fans become information consumers.  Information consumers become prospects.  Prospects become customers.  Customers become loyal customers.  Of course, that five step process involves many “touch points” along the way where your company has to deliver relevant, positive interactions.

So that Facebook fan is only as valuable as you make them, over a series of interactions.

Myth #4:  You can’t measure social media’s effectiveness.

If you can’t measure it, how on earth did you convince management to let you spend money on it?  The truth is that how you measure social media depends on what your objective was when you began your social media outreach.  For a detailed analysis on how to measure social media, check out this great white paper from Socialware.   The Socoial Media ROI Framework is a step-by-step tutorial in measuring the various ways social media affects your business. 

Myth #5:  Someone in the company needs to “own” social media.

Most companies learned quickly that setting up a separate department to handle social media simply doesn’t work.  That’s because a multitude of departments — from human resources and legal to marketing and PR to sales and customer service — need to be involved in social media if it’s to have any chance of long-term success.  And most marketing experts believe that the most successful companies are those with empowered employees at every level — those that train employees in how to become brand ambassadors through social media, and set up processes they can follow to report relevant interactions while solving problems and interacting with the public whenever an opportunity arises.

If you want some examples of companies like this, look at Zappos, Scott’s (the Miracle Grow and lawn care company), Ford, and Burger King.  All have outstanding social media programs that involve employees at every level.

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Want to learn more about reaching, persuading, and converting your audience through social media?  Join Distribion, LIMRA, and Socialware on August 10 for  Reaching Your Audience Effectively:  The 5W’s of Digital & Social Media.  The free webinar focuses on targeting, persuading, and engaging customers using online media.  Register now  for the free webcast scheduled for Wednesday, August 10, at 11 am Central Time.