It’s not enough to call social media a “trend.” It’s a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, and more business owners are jumping on the bandwagon each and every day.
It’s not surprising, considering the fast-paced and often confusing nature of the industry, that myths and misinformation are prominent. Below are seven of the most common--and the most damaging:
1. “My customers are not active in social media.” Nielsen estimates that social media sites and blogs reach 80% of all active U.S. internet users . Social media isn’t limited to certain demographics. Your customers are out there--it’s up to you to figure out where.
2. “Facebook is the only social media site we need.” Facebook is an ideal platform for reaching consumers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, offers easy access to business owners and professionals. Twitter continues to explode in popularity, currently growing at a rate of 11 accounts per second . LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest all have a valuable role to play as well. Don’t limit yourself to a single social media channel.
3. “I can't have a significant impact if I don't have thousands of followers.” While a large audience is certainly desirable, pursue quality over quantity. A hundred Twitter followers or Facebook fans that belong to your target market are better than 10,000 who don’t. Seek to build relationships and provide value to your market; the numbers will take care of themselves.
4. “Pinterest is a passing fad… so I don't need to establish a presence.” Actually, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of all time --ignore it at your peril! (Here’s how to get started .)
5. “Social media is great for B2C sales… but not B2B.” LinkedIn is an incredible platform for selling to businesses. Create a profile, get involved in targeted groups and participate in discussions relevant to your industry.
6. “Our customers talk about us on social media without us--we don’t need to create conversation.” Customers who act as brand ambassadors are incredibly valuable, but if you fail to control the conversation, you are leaving the fate of your business in the hands of others. You need a presence in order to respond to criticism and consistently broadcast your brand.
7. “I don’t need a social media strategy.” Many business owners consider social media platforms to be fun and even engaging, but not worthy of a long-term strategy and a system for executing it. But in order to be effective on social media, you must be consistent. And without a systemized approach to social media, it’s impossible for a busy small busy owner to maintain a consistent presence.
[Image: Flickr user Gabe Gross ]