Maybe not intentionally, but the end result is often the same.
And some frequent offenders are the “Social Media Gurus” themselves, whose misinformation can knock you off course. Leading to wasted budgets with little results to show from it.
You see, social media is a wonderful collection of techniques and tools that give you an amazing ability to connect with people across barriers like never before in the history of our lifetime.
But like most new, complex things, there can be a lot of misunderstanding.
Here are 5 of the biggest social media lies ever told, and how you can avoid falling prey to them.
Lie #1. “Be Authentic”
Every time I hear this one I punch myself in the face. Seriously. “Authentic” is the favorite social axiom bandied about at conferences and espoused on blogs.
By “authentic”, it sounds like you mean talk to people as… real people? That’s not a social media thing. That’s not even a business thing. That’s a common sense thing.
Unfortunately, companies got away with being rude and insincere for far too long. Thankfully, social media is helping to turn that tide with increased transparency and interaction.
Case in point: many retailers are struggling to keep up with most consumer responses according to MarketingLand.
However it’s obvious to most that you should act like you care about customers, because you do.
Many times, that also means sharing a little more about yourself so people can connect with you as an individual and empathize. But there’s a fine line. They don’t want to hear about your dating problems, political beliefs, or bowel movements.
Instead, you should be shooting for “engagement”.
Which may kinda sound like the same empty cliché. But it’s not. Here’s why.
One of the ways Step2 took social integration to the next level was by equipping their website (and opening up their brand) with customer reviews (via Facebook Connect initially). Individual products now see hundreds of reviews from real customers, along with detailed Q&A responses that help inquisitive prospects.
When you look at results on a micro or tactical level, there’s also an important lesson about engagement that’s easy to see. There’s a direct correlation between “virality” (i.e. serendipitous, unpaid increase in reach) with engagement-based metrics.
Lie #2. Fans = Success
Please, please, please… it’s not 1995 anymore. In the early nineties, mailboxes across the United States were filled with CD-ROMS from a new (albeit well-funded) upstart.
“At one point, 50% of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it. We were logging in new subscribers at the rate of one every six seconds.”, according to Jan Brandt, CMO at the time.
America Online shot up to 25 million users (which at the time was incredible) over the next few years.
Predictably, brands began pouring in and racing to build up their “pages” in this new closed system. (Hmm, sound familiar?)
Acquiring “fans” isn’t the goal. It never has been.
Revenue’s the goal.
And let’s be honest, do you really want to answer messages like this all day?
Holistically, acquiring some new fans in the process is natural (although it’s still just a small part). Instead, the goal is to move them along this sequence of “micro-conversions” in order to hit your end goal of improving revenues while decreasing costs.
Then you can layer in additional tactics to leverage what you already have (like website visits, fans, or an email database) and continuously re-engage (there’s that word again) these people to drive repurchases and referrals.
For example, one of the most effective uses of capital is through remarketing to existing site visitors or customer lists that are already engaged with your brand at some level.
You’re able to get the most out of existing information already owned, without a ton of extra work on your part, by leveraging Facebook’s peerless ability to match emails with accounts, and then create custom audiences based on detailed demographics.
Lie #3. Social Media is Free
It’s literally impossible to count the number of articles with “free social media” in them.
OK I lied, Google can help:
Unfortunately for all of us, social media work can add up to being one of the most expensive line items. Except here, you’re paying for hours, not access.
Right off the bat, the best social media teams are just that… teams. They have people (that’s the plural of “person”) for strategy, content creation, community management, audio & visuals, design, optimization and analytics.
Often, it’s a thankless, 24-hour a day grind with little help (and even smaller budgets). Then there’s the internal costs of managing or coordinating campaigns, interfacing with other departments, educating employees, and endless meetings having to justify what exactly you do on a daily basis. Oh, and keep in mind Legal won’t allow you to say or talk about an endless list of items either.
The Content Factory found that outsourcing just one channel can cost a company between $4,000-7,000 each month on the low end, and can easily run up to $20,000.
How about just going viral instead? That should be easier, right?
A single viral video can set you back $50,000 on the low end.
On the high end? How about $10,000,000+?
Red Bull’s Stratos Mission was one of the most successful campaigns of all time. It was also one of the most expensive. That’s not a coincidence.
If you are primarily concerned with growing revenue (like most companies are), then many times it’s actually more cost effective to funnel resources (i.e. money) into advertising as opposed to endless community management.
Social media is incredibly important. However it’s anything but “free”.
Lie #4. You MUST be on New “XYZ” Channel
The best stat to sum up brands’ misunderstanding of social media came from the Altimeter Group (via Marketing Pilgrim) years ago:
“The average, large company in the US has 178 corporate-owned social media accounts.”
That’s kind of insane when you think about it. Especially considering the costs we just examined.
The best way to simplify and get results (instead of squandering resources) is to analyze your own customer demographics and preferences.
For example, if SnapChat is a just a bunch of millennial girls (wow, how’s that for a generalization?!), and your ideal customer personas aren’t millennial girls, then forget it.
Ignore it, and double down on what’s working.
Another way to easily find where you should be spending the bulk of time and money is by looking at the technology lifecycle adoption curve:
Are your customers tech savvy, early adopters? Twitter might be perfect. Middle-aged business men? LinkedIn, obviously.
Common sense, not hype or headlines, will help you make good social media decisions.
Otherwise if you still need help, there are a few simple tests (like our Facebook Ads Quiz) to determine which network might be right for you.
Lie #5. Social Media has Changed Marketing
Consumer behavior has evolved tremendously over the last decade.
We want more. We expect more. And we demand more.
However when it comes to reaching, connecting, and nurturing, good marketing principles still apply.
The marketing mix (or 4Ps) was developed waaaaayyyyy back in the 60’s, and is still as relevant today as any time in history. So too, are intimately understanding customer psychology. Optimizing for both Reach and Frequency. And the traditional advertising model of an Earned, Owned and Paid media mix for campaigns.
Put it all together, and what do you get? The Scarecrow.
What would you call this?
I don’t know either. But it’s brilliant. Storytelling at it’s finest.
Social media hasn’t changed the fundamentals of marketing. It’s just provided some new distribution and communication options.
New tactics, tools and platforms pop-up every single day. People use these things in ways that we can’t even imagine. But that doesn’t mean the frameworks and systems we’ve used successfully for decades are broken or don’t apply. They just need to evolve too.
There’s been a theme in recent years that “social media manager”-type positions are in decline. Not because it’s getting any less important. But because these roles are being absorbed.
As more companies have begun to understand how social media works, these “social” skills are table stakes now for most marketing, communications, and customer service positions.
Smart companies are seeing this as another natural channel extension (like email or the fax machine), and not some shiny, newfangled thing isolated from the rest of the organization.
The Social Media Gurus mean well. They’re just lacking in a few important things (like oh, I dunno, any real marketing experience).
Tactics and channels will come and go. But don’t lose site of the big picture strategy and stay the course.
Because otherwise you run the risk of ending up frustrated.
And $600,000 in the hole like poor Raaj. 🙁