Diminishing the Myths

For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be. Perceptions and misconceptions of social media and social media marketing are starting to become recurring trends from new prospects and clients alike.

Understand that many of the Myths floating around about the drawbacks of social media, are just that.

Here are 10 of the most common misconceptions people share about social media:

1. Social media is cheap, if not free.
The reality is, true – most social media tools are free. However, integrating these tools into a corporate marketing program requires skill, and whats even more valuable, time. Just like in PR, you pay for the time and expertise of staff to brand, promote, and develop quality content.

2. Anyone can do it.
A successful social media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital, and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience, and the best social media marketers now have more than 10 years of experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content, and contests into online marketing.

3.There is no measurable ROI of Social Media.
While this is topic is still a debate among the social media community and marketers – You can use a variety of methods to track ROI including mentions on blogs and in media; comments on the content; real-time blog advertising results, and click-throughs to your company Web site. Additionally, you can get very precise statistics from a variety of sites, including Google Trends, Twitter search, Google Analytics, BackType, and Compete.

4. Social Media is for Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings.
False. Contrary to the perception that social media is for the “kids”, older demographics are evolving into this space rapidly. Take a look at this past year – LinkedIn made a storm through corporate America, niche networking sites like mashable.com have exploded, and according to BusinessWeek, Facebook’s 35-and-up crowd now accounts for more than 41 percent of all Facebook visitors.

5. You can do it all in-house.
Wrong! You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience—a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools. It is rare indeed to find an in-house team that can not only conceive and execute a social media campaign but also drive traffic to it with effective e-mail segmentation, search optimization, blogger outreach, blog advertising, Google ads, and more.

6. If you do something great, people will find it.
Quite simply, that never was true. Until you can drive traffic to your social media effort, you’ve got a tree falling in the forest, heard only by those standing nearby. A great number of tools can drive traffic, including StumbleUpon, Digg, and Twitter, but nothing works better than word of mouse—one friend telling another, “Hey look at this!”

7. “Social media isn’t really work.”
Merely throwing up a blog isn’t going to get you traffic and merely writing about things that pop into your head isn’t likely going to make you an authority on anything. Regardless of what the common attitude is, it takes work to get results. (Wink Wink Strategis.)

8. Social Media is a Fad.
This past year, the popularity of social media has been everywhere – resulting in a “buzz” that many marketers are remaining skeptical about . In fact, many are hesitating to expend resources or budgets in what appears to be another fad. But yet, social media is obviously more than this, when it is understood. It is a fundamental shift in communication – it isn’t just new “tools”, but new ways of networking, communicating, organizing, and living. It is becoming intertwined in lifestyles – which means it is here to stay.

9. Social networking will replace networking.
As my new Twitter friend Peter Shankman put it, “Social networking is not going to replace networking. Only complement it.” If you want to be a successful networker in your business and personal life – you must use the two together.

10. We can create a Viral Campaign for you – Now! Sure, sometimes a social media campaign can produce substantial and measurable results quickly. Tweets can be used to drive traffic to articles, Web sites, contests, videos, and so on—if people already care about your brand, or if you have a truly original idea that people will want to share with their followers. Ultimately, a solid social media Campaign takes time to make a substantial ‘splash’ in the social media pool. A good sign of a social media campaign is steady progress. The campaign may not launch with astronomical results but that doesn’t mean it wont end up being extremely successful. It may just need time!

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