Despite its relative youth, social media marketing has proven itself to be a valuable addition to the marketing mix. As reliance on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms continues to grow, business owners and marketing managers must educate themselves on the myths and realities of social media marketing.
By recognizing the following six myths, you’ll be better able to improve your social media marketing efforts while avoiding ineffective practices.
1. Social Media Will Let Me Reach Only Younger Customers
It’s true that much of the audience for social media is younger, and much of the driving force behind it rests with teenagers and young adults. However, it is a mistake to believe that only the young are using social media effectively and enthusiastically.
A recent study by Pew Research Center and Docstoc show 77% of the age cohort 30-49 years old are using social media, and 52% of the 50-64 cohort. Arguably as interesting is that overall usage among 18-29 year olds is dropping for the second year in a row. At 83 % it’s not hugely more pervasive than the next-older cohort; both are significant numbers. And if you’re a B2B marketer, Forrester tells us all business decision makers use social media, regardless of age.
Takeaway: Don’t neglect social media as a means of connecting with older customers. You will be excluding a significant number of potential clients if you ignore places where they can already be found.
2. Frequent Postings on Facebook Translate to Improved Campaign Performance
A Facebook user with numerous friends, who is subscribed to several groups, and who follows multiple celebrities or performers will receive dozens if not hundreds of new postings on their newsfeeds every day.
In this constant stream of new information, sources who post too frequently can defeat their purpose (getting attention) and instead disappear into the background noise. Worse, Facebook’s ranking algorithms can penalize too-frequent posters, reducing the chance that future posts will be seen.
Don’t overwhelm your Facebook followers with multiple posts that can get lost in the information deluge. A single daily post is usually enough to keep your followers informed and interested. Craft your posts to be interesting and useful – worth looking out for. Include images, relevant links, and video when possible to boost interest and increase the chance that the post will be shared or forwarded to others.
3. Social Media Efforts Must Go Viral to Be Useful
The stories of social media campaigns, videos, and images that “go viral” and attract millions of views are appealing, but the reality is that most social media submissions will never reach that level.
So do you let the “dream of viral” die?
No. But don’t expect it and definitely don’t add it to your short list of success metrics.
Remember, the best use of social media is adding value to your followers’ experiences, cultivating relationships with current and potential customers, and providing a source of useful material that helps your followers time and again. This type of simple business-building effort takes time, but it will create a larger group of loyal customers who will be likely to support your company, recommend your products and services, and spread the word about you by sharing your posts … or opening their wallets.
4. Twitter Is Useful Only for Big Companies and Known Brands
Big brands, large companies, and popular celebrities are likely to have huge Twitter followings, but smaller organizations can also successfully use this social media platform to expand awareness and loyalty.
Tweets are excellent for announcing new products or services, providing exclusive discounts, or otherwise promoting your business. However, not all tweets should be promotional; include tweets that provide useful information or insights from you as a business owner. And tweet sparingly (once per day is a good cadence).
Twitter can also be a useful vehicle for finding out who is mentioning your products or services. Make an extra effort to contact these individuals to either show your appreciation or resolve any problems that have been mentioned.
5. Facebook Advertising Won’t Attract Customers
Advertising on Facebook can certainly generate “likes,” but it can also be a valuable tool for engaging with current customers and driving revenue. Your Facebook presence can increase the number of individuals who know about you while also bringing existing customers back to you more frequently.
As you engage with current customers, you can encourage referrals and recommendations. Consider offering a reward, such as a discount or coupon, to current customers who refer a new client to you.
6. Google+ Isn’t Useful
As a social network, Google+ is not a major contender. Yet. However, its value is that it provides a social connection to the vast number of searches performed on Google every day.
Case in point: When users use the “+1″ function to endorse products or services, they create recommendations that can be more effective than Google’s standard search results.
Use Google+ as an add-on to your other social media efforts, but realize that a good profile on this service can be very beneficial to your company.
A myth you can keep
If you’re going to consider myths, how about one that works in your favor? This is Tykhe (or Tyche), the Greek goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate. In her other guise, as Eutykhia, she was the goddess of good fortune, luck, success, and prosperity.
What do you think about these social media marketing myths? Have you gone against them and found you could improve your online presence and the effectiveness of your social media campaigns?
Want to learn how to find and connect with key people who are social media influencers? Visit the Social Media section of the Act-On Center of Excellence and read “Best Practices in Social Influencer Marketing.”
Image of “Social media icons by Egbert” by Harco Rutgers, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.