When you think back on it, the advent of social media hit the marketing world like hot sauce on an empty stomach. All of a sudden businesses with an appetite for "what's next" rushed to set up Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and blogs to connect with as many customers as possible. Waylaid somewhere along the way, however, were the fundamentals of public relations, marketing, corporate communications and sales -- giving way to erroneous assumptions about how businesses should manage their social marketing.
In my view, there is no "one way" to manage your online positioning using social media. Instead, each company's marketing strategy should differ depending on specific goals and target audiences.
What follows is a cheat sheet to the dangers of absolutes when it comes to marketing online:
- Size matters. Many small businesses equate the number of "likes" or "followers" on branded social-media platforms to success, not realizing that it's the quality of those likes and followers that is important. More people signing up to view your message doesn't necessarily equate an increase in sales or even a bump in long-term or sustainable brand recognition.
- The medium is the message. Just because it's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace or some other newfangled online or mobile-powered platform, the message still carries more weight than the medium. It's always been about the message. It's not about the platform or the technology. The technology is just a tool, and just because younger people were the first to use Twitter and Facebook, don't think for a moment that older employees can't effectively use them just as well.
- Social media gurus really do exist. No, they don't. Here's my advice when you run across someone positioning himself or herself as a "social media guru" or expert. Run for the exit. Everybody working in this field is practicing on the job training. Just because they've written a book like I have or spoken in public about the do's and don'ts of social media, doesn't mean they know your business and how to conceptualize and manage campaigns that hit upon your business-related goals.
- Social media is 'new' media. No, it isn't. Media is media. At one point or another, newspapers, radio, television and the Internet were considered new forms of media and now they're labeled as "traditional" media. So "new" media doesn't mean that only "experts" or young hotshots can successfully operate your social-media team. That's hogwash. Nothing replaces knowledge of the basics of marketing, combined with knowledge of your business-related goals and the need for authenticity and transparency in your socially laden communications.
- Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm. Nobody knows your business like the people who work inside your building. You can certainly work with an agency to set up and implement your social media-related efforts or to propose ideas for contests and the like. But when it comes to communicating your messages on a daily basis, your people are in the best position to keep your community of customers and prospects up to date and informed about what really matters to them.
What myth about marketing would you like to see debunked? Leave a comment and let us know.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.