It wasn't so long ago that some pundits deemed social media little more than a millennial fad—one with only a modest potential for return, if any; thus, unworthy of any real marketing investment. Currently, however, there are 1.8 billion users of social networks, according to Statista; and at least 74% of online adults use social networks, Pew Research finds. Data like this has many marketers reconsidering their positioning and priorities in terms of social. But despite its increasingly universal adoption, social remains the most ambiguous of all marketing channels, which is one reason so many myths on social media marketing abound.
Here, experts expound on five of the most common, egregious social myths and present other, more effective steps to take.
Myth No. 1: People who love your brand on social media platforms are the best advocates.
“I hate to break it to marketers, but this is not always the case,” says Marco Hansell, CEO of social marketing platform Speakr. “Advocates can quickly become white noise if people expect them to talk about your brand every single day.”
Marketers spend a fair share of their time and resources to identify, empower, and leverage brand advocates on social media—and for good reason. Today's consumer, however, is increasingly sensitive to advertising and marketing messages. Shoppers want messages that are more genuine and less prepared. It's important to note the difference between a brand advocate and an endorsed ambassador; consumers sure do.
Myth No. 2: Posting and sharing content is enough.
Part of the formula for social media success rests in, well, being social. Simply sharing brand content does not constitute interaction. Social networks are more than alternative homepages.
“Engagement is the single most important use of social media. As a brand, you not only need to share content, but you also need to engage with your audience by responding to their comments, proposing questions, and establishing a rapport with key influencers, so it's visible to your listeners,” says John Donnelly, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at social intelligence company Crimson Hexagon. “Relating to your social audience can be the difference between a brand's successful public perception and a failed one.”
Myth No. 3: Respond to everything in social.
Brands should make every effort to engage in a two-way conversation with their digital following, but that doesn't mean brands should reply or respond to every comment. “One thing that I think brands mistake in social is that they need to hop on every real-time moment, trend, or customer complaint,” Speakr's Hansell says. “While engaging with your audience is key, knowing when to engage and when to stay out is the art of thinking of your brand just like a normal person. We don't respond to everything people email us, nor do we hop into every trending topic trying to force our own relevancy into it.”
Myth No. 4: Companies must have a presence on every social channel.
Each social platform has its own posting and sharing etiquette. Users even comport themselves differently depending on the platform. So, brands should be careful and strategic when expanding their social presence.
“While a social presence is important, hitting every channel is not always necessary and often not strategic. Across the host of well-known social networks—e.g. Facebook,Google Plus, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube— there are marked audience and platform differences,” says Meg Bear, group VP, Oracle Social Cloud. “Not every organization or brand translates well across every social network.”
Myth No. 5: Only professionals can create marketing content.
“No one knows customers better than customers themselves; so, why do marketers think they're the only ones who can create engaging content?” asks Marc Cowlin, senior director of content marketing at digital technology company Thismoment.
Cowlin underscores the rising growth and popularity of user-generated content. One of the key takeaways from the Ice Bucket Challenge craze, for example, is the method which the campaign managed to go viral: the users. “Instead of focusing entirely on generating new collateral," he says, “marketers can leverage powerful user-generated content that's already available, or engage customers to create new content for a campaign.”