September 24, 2014

Social Media Myths Worth Debunking

Sometimes when we don’t understand the true potential of something, we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter. And then we come up with all sorts of reasons as to why it doesn’t matter to justify our in action. I’m not saying you would ever do this, but others do. Below are some myths I’ve heard about social media that I think need some debunking. Because, really, we’re all smarter than that.

unicorn

Tell me if you’ve heard this one…

Myth 1: Social Media Is A Fad

Ah, yes, the old fad myth! The notion that eventually we will Facebook and tweet ourselves sick and no one will be interested in these sites anymore. And that may be true. There may come a time when Twitter and Facebook are no longer. But even if the social media sites we are using today die, the behavior is here to stay.

The 2012 Local Search Study found that the number of people using social media to look for local business information has increased 67 percent since 2012, bringing it to 15 percent of users. That represents a 3x growth from where it was in 2008.

This is not a fad. It’s a new pattern of behavior as users are using the information they find about your business online to make buying decisions offline. If they can’t find information about your business via social media, you may not even enter their buying decisions.

Myth 2: My Customers Aren’t On Social Media

As of February, 66 percent of online adults were said to be using social media sites. The numbers continue to grow.

As of August:

  • 12% of online adults say they use Pinterest
  • 12% of online adults say they use Instagram
  • 66% of online adults use Facebook
  • 20% use LinkedIn
  • 16% use Twitter

And just last week it was announced there are now one billion users are Facebook.

The numbers show that your customers probably are on social media. If you don’t know where they’re hanging out – ask them. Ask them in person, put an insert in a local mailer, use the “find a friend” feature on many social media sites to see if customer addresses pop up.

Myth 3: My Teenage Daughter Can Run My Social Media Campaign

Did you hear about the social media trouble KitchenAid recently found itself in due to an accidental tweet? These are the things that happen when you’re not careful about what your brand is doing on social media. Just because your daughter or son is constantly on Facebook or Tumblr for personal use doesn’t mean they have the maturity, the insight, or the strategic thinking for business use of social media.

Someone needs to be driving the bus to create a strategy, determine metrics, to understand how to maturely deal with critical customers, etc. If you wouldn’t let someone answer the phones in your business or speak directly to your customers, don’t give them the keys to your social media channels either. It’s the same thing.

Myth 4: Social Media Is Dangerous – People Will Say Bad Things!

I’m not going to lie to you. People might use social media to complain about your business or say things that will be difficult for you to hear. But wouldn’t you rather be on social media to hear what you’re saying than to close your ears and ignore it? I would. Studies have shown that NOT addressing customer complaints does more than hurt your reputation — it actually sends customers to competitors.

According to the Harris Interactive/Right Now Customer Experience Impact Report [PDF]:

  • 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience
  • 50% of consumers give brands a week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.

By getting involved in social media, you have the chance to spot these types of situations before they grow out of control and begin to harm your business.

Myth 5: Nobody Cares what I Think

Here’s the thing, if you use social media to simply broadcast information about yourself or your company, you’re probably right. However, if you use it to respond to customer service complaints, to share valuable information, and to make your brand of a hub for your industry, people will care. They’ll actually care very much.

Don’t use social media to constantly talk about yourself. Use it to learn about what your customers want, to improve what you offer them, and to become part of the larger industry. These are the uses that make social media beneficial to SMBs and which attract people to the brand.

Those are some of the most common myths I heard about social media from small business owners. What are some of the things you’re fighting against?

Unicorn Myth Photo via Shutterstock

7 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

7 Reactions

  1. While you’re doing myth busting, is there anything you could blow up or some cool experiment your could create? Could make for a cool video.

  2. To comment on Myth #3, yes the younger generation can use social media very easily and is more adept at picking up on trends on Facebook and Twitter. However, your social media networks need to be treated like another marketing channel in your overall marketing campaign. The person running your social media needs to be part of the marketing team so that they are aware of what is going on in the company, and can report back on the success of your company’s social media efforts.

  3. Before one uses a lot of time engineering ones social media pages should really be sure that ones customers are there.

    Some social/bookmarking sites have their book, and then the settle at a small market segment.

    Here in Denmark at least, MySpace.com usage has never been very popular, except with musicians, and bands.
    Here in Denmark, there were lots of companies that started their “Second Life” presence with significant media attention.
    I have been in SecondLife recently (just to test my graphics config in Linux) and there was no-one else there.

    Audiences move quickly, one needs to keep up.

  4. All true stuff, Lisa. Reminds me of a prospect who called me out of the blue to ask how I could help her with LinkedIn; then, after I spent 10 minutes explaining our process, she blurted out “What is LinkedIn anyway?”

    @Robert Brady- yes! Let’s whirl LI, Tw, and FB together in a blender and see what it spits out!

    @Nick…completely agree.

    @Lars- Correct. I have a client in Denmark and we’ve had this same discussion. Cultural influences definitely shape our use of social media tools.

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