The 10 Biggest Social Media Myths for Small Businesses Despite the mind-boggling pervasiveness of social media today, certain myths persist about its relevance -- especially for small operations.
This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit
Despite the mind-boggling pervasiveness of social media today, certain myths persist about its relevance for small businesses. Can social media really help drive sales and, if so, how and where? Is social media genuinely worthwhile or an enormous waste of time?
Here are 10 common social media myths about small business, and reasons to disregard them.
1. When I set up a social media account, sales leads will follow.
Establishing a presence on Twitter or LinkedIn is just the first step in the process. What you do after that determines whether or not you can generate new business.
2. Time spent on social media might be better spent elsewhere.
A commitment to social media marketing might seem to be robbing you of time better spent elsewhere. But when you look at social media as a long-term resource for building customer loyalty and gathering a community around your brand — the ultimate benefits of an effective social media strategy—there's little question that the time and effort are worth it.
Related: Week One Social Media Series: Should I Participate in Social Media for My Small Business?
3. Social media activity requires a daunting amount of time and effort.
Mastering a few social media activities will quickly make it clear that you don't have to be hunched over your keyboard 24/7 to make it work for you. If you post engaging content — a survey question, a fresh idea, eye-catching imagery — people will respond. Plus, online tools to streamline and automate the posting process reduce your own time commitment.
4. If my Tweet or Facebook post doesn't go viral, it's not worth the effort.
Corporate marketing campaigns have the limitless funds and creativity to come up with a message or image that snags millions of views. For your small business, going viral isn't critically important. The objective is attracting a steady stream of visitors due to the value you offer, one Tweet or blog post at a time. If you keep at it, your fan base (and pool of prospective customers) will grow.
5. I can't attract older customers on social media.
This might have been true in the earliest days of social media, but the facts make this myth one of the least convincing. A recent Pew Research Center and Docstoc study shows that people aged 30-49 use social media, and more than half of those aged 50-64 (52 percent) are active on social media, too.
"Don't neglect social media as a means of connecting with older customers," says Monique Torres of Business 2 Community. "You will be excluding a significant number of potential clients if you ignore places where they can already be found."
Related: Week Two Social Media Series: What Should My Social Media Strategy Be?
6. Twitter works for rock stars and high-profile athletes, but not for me.
Any small business would love a million followers, but the truth is, a small but targeted group of loyal followers will likely translate into more revenue. It's not necessary to tweet 10 times a day, nor do you have to depend on an avalanche of mentions and retweets to succeed (though they're nice to have).
"To make Twitter matter, you need to make your tweets timely, relevant to your customers, and not entirely self-promotional," says Michael Mothner, CEO of the online marketing firm Wpromote. "Also, make sure that you use Twitter to monitor and engage with Twitter users who reach out to you or mention your company or products."
7. A Twitter profile or photo is unimportant.
No one wants to buy something from a business with no description or image. Taking time to craft an appealing profile (and adding a people-friendly image) makes a difference, as does the careful selection of keywords in your bio.
8. The more I post on Facebook, the greater the returns.
Posting selectively on Facebook for your small business is different than a teenager posting 12 times about her upcoming prom date. In this particular area, less is better than more. In fact, as Monique Torres notes, "Facebook's ranking algorithms can penalize too-frequent posters, reducing the chance that future posts will be seen."
9. Video social media is too costly and time-intensive to work for me.
Video content marketing is getting a lot of buzz these days. The good news is, it doesn't require expensive equipment or Spielberg-level production values to work. Something short, snappy and produced on the cheap can attract a surprisingly large number of users.
Related: Week Three Social Media Series: Which Social Media Sites Should I Use for My Strategy? Part One: Lead Generation
10. Personal branding doesn't work.
These days, it's hard to separate one's personal brand with his or her business reputation. Consumers still want to connect with people, and the more they understand who you are as a living, breathing person (through your profile, the type of content you share, etc.), the more inclined they are to seek out your business as well.
Written by Peter LaMotte is a senior vice president at LEVICK and chair of the firm's digital communications practice.