Inbox: Social media myths

When it comes to social media, even the experts learn something new every day. Unfortunately, there are lot of myths that can derail almost any social media marketing plan, says Deb McAlister-Holland, director of marketing for Distribion, provider of web-based marketing software. She points to four in particular that come up often in talks with marketing managers.
Myth #1: Social media is free.
While many of the tools used in social media are free or very low cost, planning and executing an effective social media campaign isn’t any more “free” than executing great email or PR campaign.“You have to pay for the time to plan and execute the strategy, the creative inspiration to make it memorable, and the tools to manage, monitor, report, archive, and analyse the results,” says McAlister-Holland. “There’s an even more unfortunate corollary to this myth: that if you create compelling content, people will find it. Search engines can find content with the right keywords – but not enough people will find your content without marketing help.  
Myth #2: Email use is declining, particularly among younger people.
The Radicati Group, the leading industry analyst firm tracking email usage, shows that about 20 percent of social media users under age 18 use email less than they did two years ago, but then 16 percent use it more than they did two years ago. Every other age group uses it at least 20 percent more than two years ago, with the biggest gain coming from users 19-24 (37 percent) and users over 45 (28 percent).
Myth #3: Facebook fan is worth hundreds of dollars.
“The truth is Facebook fan isn’t worth anything unless that fan has relationship with your brand, and you are reaching him or her with messages across multiple channels,” McAlister-Holland says. “Just because someone clicks on +1 or ‘Like’ button doesn’t guarantee that they want to have long-term relationship with your brand.”
Converting someone from browser to fan is step one in multi-step process with many “touch points” along the way where company has to deliver relevant, positive interactions, she says.
Myth #4: Someone in the company needs to “own” social media.
Most companies have learned quickly that setting up separate department to handle social media doesn’t work, says McAlister-Holland. That’s because multitude of departments – from HR and legal to marketing and PR to sales and customer service – need to be involved in social media if it’s to have any chance of long-term success. She says the most successful corporate users of social media are those who train employees in how to become brand ambassadors through social media, and set up processes they can follow to report relevant interactions while solving problems and interacting with the public whenever an opportunity arises.

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