Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Simplifying Social Media: Debunking Common Myths

Before we dive into the meat and potatoes of social media, wisdom dictates that we first address some key issues - starting with social media myths. Prepare to breathe easier!

Myth: If I'm on one social media platform, I need to be on them all.

Truth: Not so. Social media is a tool, and different tools do different things. It's about finding the right tool for the job. Some platforms will make sense for your business, while others won't.

Myth: My customers aren't using social platforms.

Truth: The latest numbers show that Facebook currently has over 800 million users. More than 50% of active users log on at least once a day. The average user has over 130 friends. There are more than 900 million objects that people interact with (i.e. groups, event pages, etc.) and the average user is connected to 80 of those. On average, more than 250 million photos are uploaded a day.

Millions of people of all age groups are utilizing Facebook and other social media platforms.

Myth: Social platforms are for idle chit-chat - not a serious business.

Truth: Social platforms provide great networking and marketing opportunities. (Revisit the Facebook statistics above.) While some use social networks solely for personal reasons, it's the mingling of the business and the personal that makes social platforms so successful. When a group gets together in person, people talk both personal and business. That can include sharing a wonderful purchasing experience, recommending a company to a friend, etc. Social networks allow the same thing, but within a much larger audience and using an instantaneous method.

Myth: I need to keep my business separate from my personal life.

Truth: In his new book EntreLeadership* Dave Ramsey says: "People don't buy what you do, but why you do it." In other words, people are really buying you. Social media allows potential customers to get to know you - the person behind your business - and thus build a rapport with you.

However, that doesn't mean you need to abandon all personal boundaries. Social platforms will allow you to have both a personal and professional account. So you can keep the personal, well, personal! But still give customers a glimpse of who you are.

Myth: Social media is very time consuming - too time consuming.

Truth: We've already dispelled the myth that you need to be on every social platform. In addition, there are tools - such as HootSuite (which we'll cover in detail later in the series) - to help you organize and pre-schedule updates. This allows you to plan ahead, and frees you up from having to remember to make an update at a specific day or time. (Case in point, I am writing this post a week before it will appear. The entry is pre-scheduled and will appear automatically on the day and time I've chosen. Five minutes after the blog entry is posted, pre-scheduled updates will appear on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, reminding followers of the new blog post.)

Also, while you should monitor the platforms you've selected and interact to a degree, don't feel pressured to respond to every comment or be online 24/7/365. In this way, social media is unlike real life. While you certainly don't want to ignore your social network, the etiquette police will come knocking if you don't respond to every comment or post.

These are some of the most popular social media myths. What others have you heard?

*Not an official endorsement. I simply found this to be a great book. Has some solid marketing and selling principles.

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