With 1.86 billion active users, Facebook is a tempting marketing platform for any business. Add rivals like Twitter and LinkedIn into the mix and you can reach a huge fraction of Earth’s population. Isn’t that an exciting thought?
Unfortunately, people often make inaccurate assumptions about social.
Yes, social media can be powerful and cost-effective. The best results, however, demand you come to it with clear-eyed realism. There are some common ideas about social media that are simply false.
Let’s look at four big culprits:
“Social Media is Free”
Social media has few direct costs, but it’s far from free. You are the commodity social media networks rely on to make money – these brands monetize users’ attention and dig even deeper to profit from your need to be heard.
No matter what networks you use, social comes with an opportunity cost. It’s important to evaluate your results to ensure ROI. Also remember the cost of social management software and, for some networks, the need to use paid ads to extend your reach.
“Social Media Only Works if You Know the Secret”
There are plenty of different elements that go into social, but only one “secret.”
And that is: Be consistent!
If you’re updating regularly, using visual media, engaging with users, and providing value, you’re 95% of the way to social success. The rest comes from analytics: Continuous improvement until you get consistent results.
“Social Media Means Instant Sales”
Plenty of social marketing gurus are out there selling this idea: That you’ll connect with someone on Twitter, get involved in a conversation, built rapport, and make a sale. Lather, rinse, repeat – you just have to “know how.”
Sure, this happens once in a while. There are very narrow circumstances where B2B businesses can pull this off consistently on LinkedIn. Taken as a whole, however, this isn’t how social media works: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Social media is 90% brand engagement and perhaps, if you’re lucky, 10% “easy sales.”
“It Doesn’t Matter Who Follows You: Just Get More Followers!”
This fallacy is closely related to the biggest one in online marketing.
“It doesn’t matter where your traffic comes from, just get more traffic!”
Traffic that comes from “just anywhere” will add costs to your business and provide no sales in return. The same is true of social media: You need targeted, genuine followers to make your investment back. Robots and random people who “always follow back” are of little use.
With all that said, is social media worth it? Yes! Launch into social with the recognition that isn’t a magic bullet and you can get value from it – building your business and even having fun along the way.