There are so many misconceptions about social media that it sometimes makes me chuckle. I wanted to share eight things that I have heard over the past few years and some advice on what not to say to a social media strategist.
What Not to Say to a Social Media Strategist…
1. They pay you to do that? I thought social media was free!
Well yes, it's free to have an account on every social media platform. Some of the tools to increase efficiency in social media aren't free. And that doesn't even get into the issue of whether it's cost effective to put yourself through the learning curve required to use social media effectively – posting fresh content regularly, writing at least 2 blog posts per week, and creating videos just to name a few. To use social media well takes time and a consistent strategy. I haven't even mentioned marketing knowledge yet!
2. I know how to use Facebook! How do I start?
I think developing a social media marketing business is a great way for people to break out of traditional work environments – especially people like stay at home moms, retirees, etc. However, just because you use Facebook doesn't mean you are ready to hang out your shingle and call yourself an expert! There are many other social media platforms, not to mention running a website or a blog. Plus, the endless hours of learning online marketing strategies – which are very different than standard marketing strategies.
3. You just play on social media all day? What kind of a job is that?
Honestly, while there are certain activities that go into every social media marketing campaign, every day and every client has unique needs. So while I know what kinds of activities I'll be doing regularly, there are many days that I never know what is going to happen by the day's end! (But I can assure you, it's not just "playing" on any platform, be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or the rest!)
4. Pinterest and Twitter for business? I thought that was just for housewives or college kids!
Marketing is about providing your message to your ideal customers, wherever they are. Social media and content marketing takes that one step further and provides valuable information across multiple channels that helps you find, then develop relationships with the people most likely to be interested in the services or products you offer. Where is your ideal client? Chances are, they are on Twitter and Pinterest!
5. Social media is just a fad!
As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it (and I've referenced this before), betting against social media now is like betting against the Internet. Six years ago, what was developing into social media (but hadn't yet been named as such) was called "Web 2.0" It was where the internet was going, and developers knew it. While social media platforms may continue to evolve, the likelihood that social networking will cease to be part of people's every day lives is as high as the likelihood that movies or television will stop existing all together. They may be made and distributed differently, but they're not going away. Neither is the need for businesses to engage with their customers online.
6. Since we're friends, can you help me out for FREE?
Unless you would also ask every friend to provide professional services for free (and if you would, let's talk about manners! <grin>) you should also expect to pay for the professional services of someone handling your social media strategy. Besides the cost of access to tools that a professional social media strategist incurs, if he or she is serious about business, he or she also has invested a great deal of time and money learning the skills of the profession, just like any other professional. And one last thought…do you work for free?
7. My granddaughter is into computers; I'll just have her do that for me
It's important to understand that social media isn't about the technology. It's about understanding that whoever is providing your social media updates, designing a Facebook contest that doesn't break the Facebook Terms of Service (TOS) and creates fresh blog content regularly is the face and the voice of your company to anyone who reads your content. It takes work and a strong strategy to provide a voice that indeed sounds like someone from your company. Building your brand as a company takes time – and it only takes one misinformed Tweet to ruin it for a long time to come.
8. Twitter? Really? People Really Use That For Business?
Really. Twitter. I can't begin to tell you how many paid clients have first connected with me through Twitter or as a result of content I've shared via Twitter. You would be amazed at the power of 140 characters to make or break your brand.
What are your favorite misconceptions about social media strategy? I'd love to hear – leave a comment below!