4 Misconceptions Of Social Media

By on June 23, 2009

As with anything new, there are a lot of misconceptions floating about when it comes to social media.  So we here at Social Media Magic decided to create our top-ten list of misconceptions that we’ve come across.

1) Killer content will automatically drum up a following for you.

Reality Check: Not so much.  Just like any great product out there, if you don’t tell us about it, we won’t know it’s there.  So the next time you write a blog laying out a viable solution for world hunger, start telling people where to find it!  Send out a tweet, post an update on Facebook, make a mini movie about it and post it on YouTube, and the list goes on…

2) Social Media is all about being on the ‘right’ sites and using the ‘right’ tools.

Reality Check: Honestly, what may be the right tool for you could be a less-effective tool for someone else.  The best thing you can do is to get on two or three of the major social media sites, and then pick one or two niche sites that work well with your industry, business, or service.  Be careful of spreading yourself too thin though, each site will require time for posting updates and content, checking messages, and communicating with others.  The key here is to develop a solid social media strategy.

3) Social media isn’t profitable.

Reality Check: When combined with clear goals, and a solid and well thought-out plan, social media is incredible medium for generating positive word-of-mouth (viral marketing), which can result in more business.

4) Social media is free.

Reality Check: While most sites will allow you to set up a profile for free, you’ll still need to invest in skilled writers and strategists in order to maximize your experience online.  You could try to do it all yourself, and while some entrepreneurs and business owners do this effectively, it still requires a learning curve and a regular time investment that some aren’t able to afford.


5) Online social networking is replacing networking as we know it.

Reality Check: The fact of the matter is that traditional networking will never really go away.  Online social networking is simply an enhancement with a far greater potential for meeting those you would have never come across otherwise due to location or other factors.

6) Social media sites are good places for using hard sell or interruption marketing techniques.

Reality Check: Forceful and insistent selling on social media sites will only get you ignored and/or blocked by followers.  Consumers have learned to tune out interruption marketing in nearly every other medium, and quite frankly, they’re tired of the marketing abuse inflicted on them by hard selling companies. In fact, this type of selling will often provoke a negative backlash.  The best way to use social media is to think of it as long-term customer relationship building – you are there to woo the customer into buying your products, not to club them over the head and drag them back to your cave.

7) Social Media is a quick and easy way to drum up customer interest.

Reality Check: It’s not like winning the jackpot or the “Instant customer interest!” lottery. Any good marketing or business plan, a successful social media effort takes careful planning and work before embarking upon.  Be sure to clearly define your objectives and research, research, research your target clients!  Social media also takes time to build.  Like we said above, think of this as a long-term strategy with the potential for short-term results.

8) Engagement with social media will lead to a loss of control over your brand image.

Reality Check: Consumers are increasingly becoming more savvy, and are likely already talking about your brand whether you choose to participate or not.  What you gain by joining the conversation is the opportunity to influence those conversations and win customer loyalty through transparency and quick customer service response.

9) Social Media is just a fad.

Reality Check: People have been claiming this over the past few years, and yet in that time social media has become an integral part of many people’s lives, even going so far as to eclipse the use of email in some cases!  I’ll say it again – social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate.  Rather than thinking of it as a fad, think of it as an improved way to build customer loyalty and sell your business.

10) Social Media is all about self-promotion.

Reality Check: Social media is about both adding value to the conversation and self-promotion.  The one should always go in hand with the other.   A strategy that consists solely of self-promotion will only backfire.  Your customers want to know that you’re not just there to tell them the latest about your business.  They want to know if you’re listening to them, and that their comments aren’t falling into a black hole somewhere out there.  The most effective use of social media will have you providing valuable insights or content and engaging in conversations, all while maintaining a clear call-to-action that will help to build your business.

What social media misconceptions have you come across, or believed at one time?

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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