When people think of social media, they often have in mind someone like the 15-year old young woman who is part of our after-school carpool (of which I’m in charge).
Her phone vibrates with texts the minute she gets into the car, and for the duration of the 45-minute drive, she’s texting 1,000 characters a minute, listening to her iPod, and talking about her life on Facebook (Yes! All at the same time!). I often use her as the introduction to social media myth #1:
Myth #1 – Social Media doesn’t apply to my business
It’s easy to ignore social media – especially if you’re a B2B industrial company. Social media is new, it’s flashy and it’s just not something a crusty sales guy has any interest in. (Just give ‘em a booth at a tradeshow and they’re happy – harrumph!).
If you’re ignoring social media for this reason, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Companies such as Dell and Comcast use Twitter to sell products and improve customer service (respectively). HubSpot uses LinkedIn Groups to grow its community and increase its user base. And, Cisco uses YouTube and other social media tools to promote new products.
Social media is definitely a business tool.
Myth #2 – Social Media is a fad
Yes, social media is hot right now and yes, everyone is talking about it, and yes, every time you turn around some mainstream publication is writing about the millions of people on Twitter.
If you’re thinking social media will go away, you’ve got a long wait. This is because social media is basically an activity we’ve all been doing since the beginning of time: talking with each other.
Thanks to the Internet, it’s now easier to connect with people – whether in the same town or across the globe. Think about it. When I was a kid back in the 70’s, the way I found a pen pal in another state was to send in my name to a TV show called “Big Blue Marble.” I had to wait weeks to get matched up with someone – and then we sent letters back and forth in the mail. (I even visited my pen pal in Texas while in high school!)
My son, on the other hand, talks to his friends in other states via Skype and SMS.
Although the urge to connect with others will not go away, how we connect with people online will continue to evolve. What do I mean by this? When the Internet first came into play, we had Internet bulletin boards and email list serves.
A few years ago MySpace and Friendster were the “hot” platforms; however, both have been supplanted by Facebook and Twitter – and these, too, can quickly fade or get bought out by other companies. (This is why it’s important you use these tools as part of your marketing strategy and not your only marketing strategy.)
Hence, it really pays to be conversant with the social media tools available – because while the tools will change, the ability to seamlessly connect with your customers and colleagues wherever they are online will only add more value to you and your job.
Myth #3 – Social Media takes too much time for little return
As a results-based marketer, determining ROI from social media is something I still struggle with. With traditional marketing, you send out a direct mail letter and get XX responses, and a certain percentage of those responses go on to become sales – giving you a fairly easy way to calculate ROI.
Social media doesn’t always work this way because it takes time to build a network and community online. You have to log on every day and see what people are saying. You have to Retweet posts, read other people’s blogs, follow conversations, answer Questions on LinkedIn, and respond to friends on Facebook.
So it can be difficult to determine if people begin doing business with you because you responded to their Twitter posts, they read a comment you left on a blog and then clicked through to your site, or they watched your YouTube video.
However, social media does work – if you see it as a tool for connecting with people and listening to them versus pushing out tired press releases and product pitches. As you connect with others, your network grows. As you listen, you get to know people (your customers) and their challenges, likes and dislikes, and even their online habits.
You begin to know people for who they really are – versus simply seeing them as a name and job function – and that is where the magic starts to happen. Why? Simply put, people do business with people they trust.
Social media help you build this trust.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?