7 misconceptions managers have about social media

Does your senior management still believe that social media only requires a few tweets a day, or that an intern can do it? It’s time to set them straight.

While social media marketing has become mainstream and Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 firms use it effectively, misconceptions—especially those related to marketing—still remain.

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

Here are seven social media marketing fallacies that still exist:

1. “Social media requires Facebook.”

Facebook has a user base that makes it the equivalent of the third largest country in the world after China and India, so it’s understandable that marketers feel it’s important to be where the people are. This is true for mass-market consumer products, but 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. Consider your business objectives 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.”

The reality is that social media is the opposite of a promotional conduit for your messages. Social media is an ongoing interaction. You should send 10 messages about your prospects, customers and the public for every message you send about your company.

Recommendation: Use social media to engage directly with customers and prospects. It’s not about you; it’s about your customers. Focus on what your customers want and how you can fulfill their needs.

3. “A college intern can handle social media.

Every marketer looking to cut expenses wants a Facebook savvy intern who’s low priced or free.

Recommendation: Have a seasoned communicator who understands your brand, business and customers develop and execute your social media marketing plans. This executive can hire and closely supervise an intern doing some of the tactical execution.

4. “Social media is free.”

While social media platforms may be free in their basic formats, social media isn’t. It requires intensive human engagement, tailored content, and related tracking and analysis. This translates to head count and related expenses.

Recommendation: Assess how much participation and engagement your plan requires. 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 creating social media content and related analytics. Then, develop a ballpark expense factor. (Here’s help to hide your social media budget.)

5. “Social media is getting people to like you.”

Building a following on Facebook or another social media platform doesn’t ensure that these people will become big supporters of your brand. In fact, they may only be there for a coupon or 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: Align your social media marketing goals with those of your business. Once you have these goals, decide what actions you need to take and how you will track them.

6. “Social media only requires three tweets per day.”

Don’t laugh. I’ve had prospects tell me they thought that they had a robust social media program with only three tweets. Twitter exchanges—or other forms of social media exchanges—must show that you’re engaged and responsive. That is more important than the number of tweets.

Recommendation: Determine where your target audience is on social media platforms and the content 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. “Our customers and other visitors can create our social media content.”
The basic rule of thumb is that 1 percent of visitors create content or do something significant on social media sites, 9 percent do something minimal such as vote or comment, and 90 percent just lurk.

Recommendation: Determine why your firm needs social media content and how you can effectively create it. 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 is changing.

You need to put social media tactics into the context of larger marketing and business plans.

What fallacies would you add?

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

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