In November 2007, a whopping 8 years ago, Facebook launched Pages and their ad platform. In 2010, Facebook changed the way ‘fans’ and Pages interacted, removing the ‘fan’ feature and replacing it with the more common, “Like.” Over the next half decade, Facebook has rolled out numerous changes, dealt with competitors and social media upstarts, and vastly improved the platform and options available to marketers and business owners.
About the only thing that has generated more conversation than Facebook’s changes are the misconceptions about social media for business.
There’s a local small business marketing expert (ninja, guru, you know the type) who once proclaimed, “you don’t need a website for your business, you only need a Facebook page!” Yes, as shocking as that sounds to anyone with common sense, it is more shocking the guy is still convincing businesses to hire him five years later.
Another of my favorites comes, again, from a local self-proclaimed expert, “Link all your social media profiles to Facebook, so when you publish an update there, it will automatically Tweet it and more.” Yes, still in business and yes, still giving horrible advice.
I’m sure you’re going to be somewhat disappointed this article isn’t going to be the blog equivalent of “America’s Funniest Home Based Marketers,” but I promise what I miss in entertainment value, I’ll make up for in informative, actionable content.
1. Social Media Marketing is FREE!
While technically true, you can create a social media profile for your business on almost every platform imaginable, unless you don’t pay yourself or have nothing else to do with your business, it isn’t free to manage. And manage it you will have to do. Whether it’s through content posts or ad platforms, it takes someone(s) with some marketing smarts to build and grow your social media audience. Also, as Facebook is the top social media marketing platform out there, you’ll quickly find that you have to pay to play to have your posts, events and content seen. The upside though, is that most platforms have evolved to provide business owners and marketers lots of options when it comes to targeting. Rather than throwing cash at low return mediums, you can now hone in on customers and prospects who fit your ideal buyer personas.
2. If You Build It, They Will Come.
With at least 21 “important” social media sites and numerous others in existence, you can’t just create a profile and expect it to be seen, liked, favorited and fawned over. No, you’re going to have to think through who your customers are, paying attention to: age, spending habits, device ownership, digital experience and more before you can build a profile. Take the time to create rich media “window dressing” using a tool like Canva to help get everything sized and formatted properly. Be consistent with how you list your NAP, that is: Name, Address, Phone number so you feed the search engines some yummy content about your business. And just as I said above, build it and then manage it daily.
3. My Business Won’t Work on Social Media.
We get this a lot from so called, “boring” industries. Trust me, the reason you think it won’t work is exactly why it will work if you build your profiles properly and speak to your ideal customers on a one-to-one level. Consumers are hungry for entertainment, information and content that helps them with their day to day struggles. If you are selling anything, literally, then your business can work on social media. But don’t take my word for it, here’s a blog post from Hubspot about creating content for boring industries.
4. I Don’t Need to Respond to Social Media Posts.
The Trolls are out there. There’s something about social media that makes normally timid and reserved people become the online equivalent of your favorite loud mouth WWE wrestler. They get brave and they have a voice and they’re not afraid to exercise it, especially when a brand hacks them off. It is important to have a plan for what and how you’re going to respond when the Trolls do come out, but more importantly, have a plan for the customers who are asking questions about your products and services. Here’s a plan you are free to use: Answer them! My friends over at SproutSocial have written a post with some great tips for Twitter Trolls that you should check out too.
5. Thou Shalt Post Daily (or More!). I’m just going to put this meme out there…
Yes, the goal of most social media sites is to make it super easy to create and share content. But that doesn’t mean you have to add to the noise. In fact, it might be to your competitive advantage if you publish less, but with more originality and authority than to just post away for the sake of filling news feeds (and boards). The reality is your business is unique, your customers have specific wants and needs from you, and you’ve got to fill those with social media content that enriches their brand experience with you. Use tools such as Facebook insights or the analytics dashboard in software like HubSpot and Rignite to tell you when it’s best to post, including day of week and time of day. The numbers will very likely surprise you!
6. Sharing Other People’s Content Drives Customers Away.
One of the single largest reasons why we hear people say they gave up on social media was they didn’t have time to create content. While it’s true you should observe an 80/20 rule where you’re generating 80% original content and 20% curated, it’s more important your fans and followers see you as a true resource for them. No, you probably don’t want to post the latest blog post from your competitors, but as my example above indicates, if you can’t add to the conversation then don’t. Just share the well written, existing content that helps your customers and they’ll remember you as being the bridge.
These are six of my favorites when it comes to misconceptions about social media for business. By no means is this list exhaustive, but these are the most common complaints or questions we hear when talking to our main street and downtown peers. If you have a question about social media marketing and how to better utilize social for your venture, please hit us up in the comments!
And if you really want to take a major step forward, download our free eBook on Inbound Marketing and learn about taking a more integrated marketing approach to grow your business.