Top 5 Social Media Myths Debunked

social media toolsAs with any new technology, social media has spawned its share of misconceptions and myths that keep people from interacting.

It’s time to debunk the big myths that are keeping business owners and marketers on the social media sidelines.

Myth #1: My Customers Aren’t on Social Media

Wow, if I had a dollar for every time I heard this one….  Seriously, this myth keeps more businesspeople from interacting with potential customers through social media than any of the others.

The fun part is all you need is a little data to convince people that their target customers are indeed on social networks.

For instance, 80% of female Internet users have become fans of a product or brand on a social network site and 72% said they learned about a new product through social media.  As the graph here shows, more than half of Facebook and Twitter users are over 35, not to mention LinkedIn.

Social networking is a true cultural phenomenon, and there is no demographic that isn’t represented substantially on one or more sites.

This chart shows demographic information for social media sites, demonstrating that they are accessed by a wide variety of age groups. (Courtesy of Pingdom.com.)

Myth #2: I Can’t Measure the Impact of Social Media on My Business

The social media return on investment debate has been picked apart by so many intelligent and creative marketers, you would think it wouldn’t make this list.  But it continues to rank high on the list of objections about social media and I completely understand why.

Since the interaction mechanisms are different with social media than traditional marketing, judging purchase intent and likely customers from social media behavior is a new skill for many marketers.

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated though, and if you put in place some of these methods to tie online behavior to offline actions, you can track the impact social media is having on your bottom line.

Pay close attention also to the referrals from social media sites on your web pages and these people’s behavior compared to users who get to your site through other means.

Myth #3: I Don’t Have Time to Manage Social Media

Learning how to interact on social networks is very easy, because it simply involves talking with people and having candid conversations about interesting topics.  Though you do need to spend some time interacting with people and posting useful, engaging content, the returns on your time should be enough to make social media interaction worthwhile.

After some basic exposure, you’ll see how similar social media interaction is to offline conversations, and it should come naturally.

Some helpful tools can make interaction a breeze, including HootSuite or TweetDeck for Twitter interaction, and Ping.fm to post updates to multiple profiles from a single interface.

Ping.fm client for managing multiple social media profiles from one location.

Myth #4: If I Engage on Social Media Sites, I’ll Get Loads of Negative Comments

Nobody likes to hear negative feedback about their work, product or service.  Many businesspeople fear that their social media profiles will be overrun by people posting complaints and competitors “flaming” their brand.  But the beauty of social media interaction is that transparency and responsiveness rule the day.

If a customer chooses to voice a complaint publicly, you have the chance to demonstrate your customer service ability to a wider audience.  If the person is unreasonable and continues to post negative information, people observing the dialogue are more likely to admire your efforts to right the situation, rather take to heart the angry customer’s complaints.

Plus, sometimes your customer base does the heavy lifting for you, like this gem from the American Airlines Facebook page.

Myth #5: Social Media Is Hard Work

Well, this one isn’t a myth, but it’s worth addressing while we’re at it.  Sure, successfully growing and interacting with a community on social networks require dedication and reasonable, sustained commitment.

If that sounds like hard work to you, well, it is, but the rewards justify the effort. If you’re allergic to hard work, then you probably shouldn’t be in business anyway.

Take some pride and joy in the interactions you have with your community and soon, what may have felt like another item on your to-do list will actually be one of the best parts of your day. And when you start demonstrably affecting sales and capturing purchase intent with social media interaction, then the hard work will be worth it.

I hope these myths won’t hold you back from engaging in social media interaction any longer.  There are customers out there waiting to talk to you and all you have to do is join the conversation.

Which other social media myths do you think need to be “debunked”?  Have you fallen victim to any of these? Do you have anything to add when addressing these myths? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Peter Wylie

Peter Wylie is lead researcher for Three Ships Media, an emerging media marketing company that specializes in using blogs and social networks to connect clients with target customers online. Other posts by »




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