1. Social media is a conversation.
This is almost laughable, but the “conversation” buzzword is still in rampant use. Social media is not a conversation. It is conversational and, on occasion, a conversation will happen. But most of the time social media is listening in aggregate to your fans and followers and responding to trends, broadcasting news and opinions, and responding to urgent requests or to any looming crises.
There is no way that JetBlue is “conversing” with the 1.6 million people following them on Twitter. There is no way that Starbucks is talking with each of the 19 million individuals who like it on Facebook. In fact, both of these companies probably have challenges simply monitoring these channels because of the size of the volume. It isn’t even remotely possible to have conversations when so many people are speaking at and to you.
So dispel this notion. Social media is mostly marketing and communications (and customer service) where on occasion a conversation will break out.
2. Social media is easy to measure
Only true if you think measuring water in a colander is easy. Measuring social media is difficult these days. Heck, most measurement companies can’t even agree on simple things like the number of people who visit your website. If you ask Compete.com or Google Analytics you’ll end up with two different numbers. But, for the most part, measuring things like number of followers, number of likes, how many tweets, etc. can be accomplished. But what does that get you?
What companies really want to measure is impact. What is our influence? Did social media help us accomplish our business goals? Did social media help increase market share or share of voice? Did it strengthen brand awareness? Did it help sales? Did social media strengthen our corporate reputation? These types of measurements are difficult and need to be customized for each company. Look at it this way, most companies are still trying to answer these questions for marketing, advertising and public relations. And now they are trying to figure it out for social media.
3. Every company needs to be using social media.
Nope. Not every company needs to advertise or use public relations either. I happen to believe those are smart activities, but not every company does. Companies need to decide for themselves what is best for their bottom lines and their stakeholders. I happen to believe that companies have great opportunities to use social media to engage and inform their customers, partners, shareholders and the media, but its definitely not for everyone, especially companies that don’t have open cultures.
4. Social media is free (or inexpensive).
It is true that many social media platforms are free. Anyone with a web connection can create a blog, Twitter account or a Facebook page. The cost is exactly zero.
But that’s the only thing you’ll get for free. Creating content – especially creative, lively and sharable content – is difficult and time consuming. And as we all know: time is money. There are few, if any, companies doing social media without a significant cost investment. You need monitoring tools, you need equipment (laptops, smart phones, video cameras, editing software, cameras, design software, development software, etc…), you need workers (hiring, training, salaries, benefits, etc.) and you’ll most likely need to outsource a lot of the strategy and tactics (agency fees, development costs, out of pockets, etc.).
The costs add up – fast. Is it worth it (see #2 and #3 above)? I happen to think the ROI comes back tenfold – as it does with marketing, advertising and PR. But every company needs to decide individually what the investment will be and how success will be measured.
5. You need to be everywhere.
No, you don’t. Don’t even try. You don’t have to be on Flickr if you don’t use images and photos. Or YouTube if videos aren’t your thing. You don’t have to blog. You don’t need to be on Facebook. Figure out where your stakeholders are and then set-up a few social media channels so they can find you there. It is much easier to manage and control a few social assets than it is to open up dozens of them.
6. You can’t outsource social media.
The argument here is always about being genuine. That it isn’t authentic to have an outsider blog, tweet or update your Facebook status. Ridiculous, of course. As long as the brand is being reflected and the voice speaks back to the corporate communications strategy – companies can have whomever they want doing the day-to-day posting and engaging.
Just like companies can outsource legal, public relations, advertising, customer service, home delivery, warehousing, administration, IT, and manufacturing, they can also outsource social media.
7. We have the best social media consultants in the business.
Not quite. Weber Shandwick has that one wrapped up. But don’t rely on me – a mere Weber employee to convince you. Listen to PRNews who awarded us as Digital Firm of the Year in 2010 and Mashable who recently named Weber as one of the four best places to work for anyone in digital and social media (the only agency on the list).
Okay, so maybe that last one is somewhat subjective.
Please feel free to add to the list in the comments or challenge me on any of the other items I’ve listed out.
Photo by Graeme MacLean (via Flickr)