One of the more impactful changes over the past decade or so has been the rise of “social media.” It’s been met with suspicion (and for good reason) by many business owners, well-understood by a few, reluctantly pursued by most. Some of us are doing a better job than others, of course, but that’s sort of beside the point for the purposes of this article. What you and I want to accomplish right now is more like developing a “worldview” of social media that both accommodates the realities of social media and works for your business.
Here, then, are the 10 myths you shouldn’t believe about social media.
Myth #1: Facebook (or any other social media platform) exists for you to be able to promote your business for free. Yep, free.
The thinking behind this myth is that it works like this: you set up a Facebook page, ask people to “like us on Facebook,” and then post things to that page periodically. It’s basically free advertising to people who like your business.
Sounds simple, right?
Not so fast.
The thing is, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth (as of July 2018) is $63.6 billion dollars.
You really think he got that rich giving free advertising away to other businesses?
Of course not.
Facebook (and by extension, Zuckerberg) makes their money by selling advertising to its audience — the one you’re helping to build when you ask your customers to “like us on Facebook.” In order to keep that audience as long as they can, they’ve severely curtailed the visibility of advertising by businesses that aren’t paying.
And that leads me directly into Myth #2…
Myth #2: If 1,000 (or 100, or whatever) people “like” your business on Facebook, that means that 1,000 (or 100, or whatever) will see your posts.
Nope. Not even close. Facebook’s “organic reach” for pages is generally around the 1% mark. So you’re doing really well if 20 people out of those 1,000 see your posts.
Myth #3: When you have a following of any size on social media, they are “your” audience.
After we’ve busted the last two myths, do we even need to discuss this one?
Truth of the matter is that when you have a social media audience, you don’t own anything; you’re just “renting” it. It can be taken from you at any time, for any reason. Already, we’ve noted that your ability to be seen by that audience has been greatly diminished.
This reality of the situation leads directly into Myth #4…
Myth #4: Social Media can replace your website.
Don’t even think about it. You must “have your own real estate,” where you can build an audience and promote to them without a middleman.
How can you do that, you ask?
By having a site that serves the needs and informs your audience, and an email marketing program that walks that audience through the stages of the Customer Value Journey. This — not Facebook — is what will take them from just beginning to engage with you all the way through them becoming active referrers of your business.
Social media is not a viable shortcut to that process.
Myth #5: You have to spend hours a day/week on this stuff.
That certainly can be true, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re feeling like social media is taking up too much of your time — or you feel like it could if you spent any time on it, you need to look into social media scheduling software. There are several options out there, and I’m not yet prepared to recommend any one of them. They all have strengths and any one of them may be best, depending on your specific needs. I’d put Hootsuite, Buffer, and Meet Edgar on my shortlist of consideration.
Myth #6: You can’t measure ROI on social media.
Let’s face it, attribution is always difficult. P.T. Barnum is credited with the saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” (More than likely, the saying actually came from John Wanamaker, who opened the first successful department store in the United States.)
Fortunately, no matter who said it, a lot has changed since then. Most of that change has happened in the last ten to fifteen years, and at the small business level, we’re still catching up.
Social media spending in the United States alone is expected to hit $17.34 billion in 2019. Sadly, only a small fraction of marketers are able to prove its value.
So is the “myth” true, or not?
Fact is, you can do it… if you have good objectives, good metrics, and good tools.
Space doesn’t permit an entire tutorial on this subject, but this blog entry from Hootsuite can help you get started.
Myth #7: You have to be active on all the social media platforms.
Maybe this one is true, right? After all, if Snapchat or some other platform has millions of users, you should be there to promote to then, right? And maybe there’s a little bit of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as well?
The fact is that some platforms are going to be a better fit than others, and if your time, budget, or other marketing resources are limited, you would be best served by focusing those resources on the best opportunities.
In broad strokes, the best platform for B2B businesses is almost indisputably Linkedin. For B2C companies, the answer is less clear. I’d recommend Facebook as a primary platform, but I would strongly recommend considering Instagram as well.