Over the last few years, social media has become the new frontier in the online marketing world. Literally hundreds of how-to articles on how you can use social media to connect with prospective and existing customers populate the Internet.
But like any technology that’s relatively new, there are misconceptions and outright myths about social media. Believing these myths either prevent businesses from tapping into a potentially valuable marketing channel or cause businesses to underestimate the effort required and quickly give up.
Continue reading for 7 of the most common we’ve heard:
1. Social Media is Free!
While it is true that it doesn’t cost anything to set up a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube, the time and effort to regularly add content to them is not. Companies need to designate one of more individuals at their firms to focus on social media and give them the resources to do it properly. This individual has to manage content creation, publication, interactions and monitoring.
2. Customers in my industry do not use social media
Considering the fact that Facebook has nearly 1 billion members, or that LinkedIn (…the largest business network) has over 160 million members all around the world, or that the average Internet user spends 5+ hours a week on social media channels, chances are you have prospective customers participating in social networks.
3. Using social media won’t help my business
Well, if you’re not interested in building new leads, connecting with existing customers or monitoring what’s being said about your company, then this is certainly true. Some companies like Virgin America though use their social media outlets as their main customer service outlet. Tech companies like Dell Computers use Twitter as a way to address technical issues. Many companies though simply use channels like Facebook and Twitter to address customer complaints and answer questions. Using social media in this fashion shows other customers that you’re responsive and there to address concerns in a prompt way.
4. Why bother? My competitors have already established their own social media presence
This is a common misconception…just because your competitor has a social media presence doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. If you have an email newsletter, list of existing clients or database of sales and marketing leads, then you’re already halfway there. Setup an account on Facebook and/or Twitter for example and then send a mass email to all your contacts. You can sweeten the deal by offering some sort of freebie or discount for anyone who “follows” or “likes” your profile.
5. Conversely, none of my competitors are on social media
Well this just doesn’t make any sense. If no one in your industry has established a social media presence, the opportunity for you to capitalize through these channels is even greater. Like we said above, it’s likely a large number of potential customers for your products and services are using social media in some capacity. Being the first in your niche to engage with them through these channels will certainly put you ahead of the curve.
6. It’s just too time consuming!
This is perhaps the most common misconception out there. Like anything else, using social media requires balance. Tools like TweetDeck and others allow you to auto-publish large amounts of content at specific times without you even having to be in the office. There are certainly ways to manage social media without taking too much time from other pursuits.
7. Social media is only about the conversation
Absolutely not! This is perhaps the most common misconception about social media. Joining the conversation and engaging with your audience simply isn’t enough. Real success with social media requires you to identify and connect with “power” users and publish targeted, expert content that encourages other to share and comment. This takes more than conversation – it takes time, money and above all, great content.
In the end, it’s up to you to commit the manpower and resources to successfully harness social media channels. Many companies both large and small have driven literally thousands of new leads by just one great post or conversation.
Social media channels like Facebook, et al also show your customers that you’re engaged and there to listen to their concerns. Not only this, social media has the potential to turn your audience into your most powerful marketing assets.
Having a friend’s recommendation for a product or service is perhaps the most powerful motivation to turn someone from a prospect into a customer.
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