I’m just finishing up a book on social media (book review to come shortly). As I was reading it and based on my experience, I came up with a few myths:
- You have to be everywhere. It’s impossible. There are so many sites out there. You have to know your audience and determine where to spend your effort. You MIGHT have to stake your claim to avoid someone else using it and provide information for consumers to reach you, but you can’t actively contribute and add value across the social media spectrum.
- Set it and forget it. Social media is about dialogues and continuous information. You can’t put up static content like a website and come back every week, month, year and update it. The best companies respond (for example) to a Twitter comment about them in 24-hours while some never respond.
- Build it and they will come. There is a constant dialogue about whether you have to “own” the community or simply participate in it. There is certainly reason to create content (i.e., blog posts, tweets), but you have to find a non-marketing environment to interact with your customers and influencers and understand their needs. In many cases, that environment might already exist and you need to join it. Additionally, you can’t simply launch something or join something without pushing out information about it. For example, if you have a Facebook page, you need to have a link on your website, put it in your LinkedIn profile, include it in your press releases, etc.
- Marketing should own social media. Traditional marketing has been about the controlled message. Social media is about participatory messages. There’s a big difference. Additionally, social media can be and needs to include any employees who are actively engaged in social media. We’ve seen numerous examples of employees who comment inappropriately only to jeopardize their job. (I’ll agree that there are issues here to still be defined regarding privacy versus freedom of speech.) Marketing can’t reply real-time about operational issues. Ownership is a collective effort.
- You can outsource your social media. This is a big mistake. There are lots of consultants who will tell you what you want to hear. They will talk about some channel or channels that work (e.g., Twitter experts, Facebook experts). They’ll talk about search engine optimization (SEO) and what to do. They’ll tell you that you need an iPhone app or a YouTube channel. The reality is for your solution to be genuine and timely that it needs to be someone(s) who understands the company, feels passionate, and is empowered to do something quickly.
- Tell me..tell me…tell me. This works great for presentations. But, you’re now a part of the audience (although an informed member with an agenda). You need to tailor your objectives to what the audience wants / needs. In a community, they’re there for a reason. They are discussing a topic and sharing their thoughts. They want you to add value not sell your products or agenda. They want to be valued.
- You can avoid it. This is an obvious one. With 500M users on Facebook and YouTube being the second most popular search engine, you have to understand how people find you on the Internet. Google is a verb. Current generations will grow up with theses modes, smart phones, and be uninhibited by our sense of privacy. Technology is and will continue to be more ubiquitous. The way people learn about companies is changing. The way people learn about people is changing. Relationships between people are changed based on technology. Companies have to understand what’s being said about them and embrace it not run from it.
There are tons of infographics out there that symbolize some of this. I pulled a few of my favorites together here, but you can find more.