Most marketers understand that social media marketing is a crucial component of their digital marketing strategy. This cross-platform plan involves building company awareness, sharing content and increasing engagement. There are multiple social media sites, and some have been in existence longer than most people realize. While many believe Facebook, introduced in 2004, was the first social media platform, LinkedIn is the true frontrunner as it started a year earlier. Twitter soon followed in 2006, with hashtags introduced in 2007. Pinterest started in 2008, but did not allow business accounts until 2012. Some of the newcomers include Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011). These platforms, and others not mentioned here, serve distinctive functions in the marketing realm.
Social media marketing is still new and constantly changing. This means it’s easy to fall victim to many of the myths surrounding how to conduct social media marketing. Here are four tips for steering clear of a few of the common ones.
Social Media Marketing Myths
- Social media marketing is free. It’s not a myth that starting a social media account is free. All the ones mentioned above are indeed free and available for anyone and any business to use. However, some of the functions of these platforms only are available for a price. For example, LinkedIn offers several premium subscription plans, including Premium Business Plus, Sales Navigator Pro and Recruiter Lite to assist businesses in reaching their target audiences. Additionally, these social media channels all offer paid advertising to expose a company’s brand, business and content to a wider audience. Paid advertising via social media is different when compared to traditional media. In traditional media, there is a set price for a 30 second commercial or a full-page ad. Social media advertising involves paying for ad impressions, link clicks and conversions, also known as cost per click (CPC).
Moreover, there is a time investment involved with learning and managing social media marketing. This type of marketing involves:
- Regular posting on one or more platforms (sometimes multiple times, daily)
- Creating content, whether written, photos or videos, for the platforms
- Monitoring the platforms
- Interacting with customers and clients on the platforms
- Understanding the nuances of CPC and the bidding process used on some of the platforms for social media advertising.
Some marketers use management tools, which typically are not free, to assist with creating, scheduling and posting social media updates. Investing in social media marketing means either paying an employee or an outside agency to handle all the daily, weekly and monthly components of social media marketing. With the time, money and resources needed, social media marketing is definitely not free.
- Social media marketing produces instant results. There is plenty of information on how to successfully perform social media marketing to achieve quick results. Yet, because of a company’s uniqueness, what works for one company may not work as rapidly for another (or may not work at all). For most businesses, developing a social media presence and strategy is a long process. It’s important to figure out your purpose for using social media marketing: is it to find prospects, build brand awareness and/or provide customer service? Long-term strategies then can be developed to build a social media presence based on this purpose.
- Followers equals success. An easy trap to fall into is setting a goal of increasing followers as a measure of social media marketing ROI. Many celebrities and popular businesses (especially B2C ones) seem to accumulate huge numbers of followers in the blink of an eye. In fact, there are paid services available that will do it for you. But should you be focused on amassing thousands of followers? The simple answer is no. Just because the number of followers on your social media platforms is high, it doesn’t mean that they all are seeing your posts. And, they may not be from your target market.
The most effective method for increasing your social media followers is to produce engaging content that encourages interaction, such as commenting on and sharing posts. Measuring social media engagement is a better ROI metric than the number of followers.
- Companies need to have a presence on all social media channels. One aspect of social media marketing is how often and when to post on the different platforms. One article might state that companies need to Tweet five times a day. Plus, they need to post on Instagram at least 10 times daily and send out at least three LinkedIn updates weekly to be effective at social media marketing. Yet another article might stress that it’s important to produce at least four Facebook videos monthly. In addition, schedule 3-10 pins daily on Pinterest and have at least one Snapchat story each day. Does your business have the time, resources and money (see Myth #1) to be active on all channels? Instead of trying to corner the market on every social media platform, determine which platforms will generate the best ROI, are better suited to your type of business and are frequented by your target market. Then focus your efforts on being successful only on these platforms.
From Myth to Reality
It’s time to pull back the veil from these social media marketing myths. First, social media marketing takes time, resources and money. Second, while there is no secret formula to get quick results, building a strategic presence will produce relevant results over time. Third, instead of striving to build a large number of followers, focus on reaching your target audience. And finally, you don’t have to be everywhere. But on whatever platforms you are present, be consistent. Crafting a social media marketing plan that is unique to your company and tied in with a solid digital marketing strategy, will help you evade these social media marketing myths.