There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about social media. I often speak to clients who have some idea that they should be involved in the social space, but have certain ideas around the format that are quite simply wrong.
I find myself counselling clients on the different aspects of social media, how it all works and whether or not it will work for them. Whenever planning campaigns I often get clients to look at their own behaviour as an example of whether they believe something will work. For example I don’t believe in TV advertising – it’s the perfect time for me to get up to fill my wine glass, or now, with PVR, hit the FF button.
So when my clients look at me expectantly after having just uttered the words “we want a social media campaign” I sometimes feel like I have completely burst their bubble by the time the meeting is over.
Here are some of the myths and misconceptions that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, and the reasons why they are simply not true.
Myth No. 1 – Social Media is Free
The only time social media is free is if your time is 100% free. Think about it; the hour it will take me to write this article is an hour I could be working on one of the many projects currently in production. Even if I did not have any projects, this time could be spent with one of my clients, answering calls, chasing leads, doing project work etc. Considering my hourly rate there is a definite cost to this article which we as a company chalk up to marketing spend.
Considering how little “free time” most people have in the day means one of three things for your social media campaign.
- The task of managing your campaign needs to be assigned to an effective resource that is paid to manage the campaign – i.e. it forms part of their day job; or you need to actively schedule time for yourself to do this. = NOT FREE
- Outsource the management of your social campaign to a company you trust to speak and act on your behalf = NOT FREE
- Don’t have a social campaign = FREE but risky
Myth No. 2 – I Can Sell My Products on Facebook
This is a tricky one. You can definitely generate leads through Facebook, but the point of this myth is that you can’t do it through direct selling. If you are expecting to generate hundreds of actual sales through a social media campaign, I am afraid you are going to be sorely disappointed.
No one likes to be sold to constantly. We have enough spam in our lives – we don’t need any more. Social campaigns are exactly that – SOCIAL. People like to be spoken WITH, asked their opinions, offered free advice, tell their stories and share interests. The point of your social campaign is to share content, be useful to consumers and have conversations.
Before embarking on a social campaign you need to do your homework – take a look at some of the world’s top brands and see what they are doing on their social campaigns. Then look at smaller brands and even your competitors. You will see that none are using their Facebook page to hard-sell their products.
I can assure you that if you shove your brand in peoples face on social platforms your campaigns WILL fail.
Myth No. 3 – I Do Not Need to Plan My Campaigns – I Shall Simply Talk to My Fans
Now, as much as I try not to discourage clients from starting or having conversations with their fans, I can assure you that a little bit of planning really does go a long way. Without it you will soon find yourself running out of things to say, not saying things often enough or worse yet falling into “brochure syndrome” (posting nothing but sales material, brochures, flyers etc).
Your campaign strategy can either be loosely or extremely defined, depending on who is managing it. I would recommend that if your campaign is being managed by someone else, you should plan more rather than less. Your campaign manager will then know upfront what can and can’t be discussed and what you have agreed on, giving them more freedom to actually engage people on your behalf.
Planning also ensures actual conversation. I know this sounds odd – planning conversation sort of defeats the point of a conversation, but it is really just the planning of topics of conversation that need to be outlined.
Myth No. 4 – I should interact as my brand and not me
I know that this sounds like a complete contradiction to most of my clients, especially when I suggest that they might want us to run their social campaigns for them.
There is nothing wrong with posting as your brand provided people can tell whomever they are speaking to is in fact a person. In an ideal world you should post on social platforms in your personal capacity, but in many cases more than one person needs to interact with a social campaign on behalf of a company/brand.
Everyone likes to know with whom they are speaking, so in best practice would really be to introduce everyone who interacts with your brands social pages and what level they represent within the organisation. Campaigns and brands that take this leap of faith get far more interaction than those that “hide” behind a logo. But since this is not always possible, one should at least go as far as to ensure that interaction is personal and social, even if it is done as the brand. People want to talk to people, not robot brands.
Myth No. 5 – People Will Find My Page Because it is Just So Fabulous
No they won’t… Unless you are a super-brand, celebrity or family/friend no one is really looking for you; even if you have planned and built the most awesome campaign, and have award winning content and photos… this is not field of dreams.
A good place to kick-start your social campaign is by leveraging off of your existing client base and online network. By following every “social media rule” (posting once a day, interacting with your audience, advertising your page on all channels i.e. email signatures, business cards etc) your campaign should grow at a comfortable rate and you will eventually start reaping the rewards of having built a loyal community that is genuinely interested in your brand.
However should you wish to grow your page by hundreds of fans a month and take full advantage of the viral aspect of social marketing you will need to spend some money telling people how to find your page – this mean advertising; the good news is that most online advertising is relatively affordable and highly effective.
Myth No. 6 – We Don’t Need a Social Campaign – It’s Just a Fad
I heard a great saying the other day and it is extremely true… “Social media has become like the ocean – you never want to turn your back on it.”
Social media has been around since the early 2000s in one form or another, and Facebook has been around long enough for them to make a movie about it. This means that social media, love it or hate it, is here to stay. As with everything, the brands that find a way to successfully incorporate this channel into their marketing early on will reap the best rewards from the platform.
I remember people saying the same thing about the internet and websites in the early 90s – so I am afraid it is time for all brands to seriously consider their online presence.
Myth No. 7 – I don’t need a whole online campaign – social media is enough
All marketing works better when it is driven by every angle. I understand that budgets determine how much can be done and what channels will be used, but online is still the most affordable and measurable channel available to all organisations – and strangely still gets the smallest chunk of the budget.
I am not preaching that you should only be doing online marketing – in fact quite the opposite. Unfortunately due to the nature of social media brands are not yet taking it seriously as a marketing channel – this means there is still very little thought and planning that goes into most social campaigns.