It’s no big secret that social media marketing can play a pivotal role in growing any business, big or small. Using social media can enable you to increase brand awareness, expand your reach, enhance your customer relationships, and gain an edge over your competition.
However, although social media is now everywhere in a seriously inescapable way, it’s still a relatively new fixture of the digital marketing landscape. One in five small businesses don’t even use social media, and many myths and misconceptions circulate about how it operates and how to use it effectively.
Here are eight of the most common misconceptions about social media marketing to help you start connecting with your audience.
1. You need to be everywhere
Creating a profile on every platform you can find doesn’t really fall into the general jurisdiction of a sensible social media marketing strategy. Trying to be everywhere all at once might actually be the most prevalent reason small businesses don’t end up succeeding on social media.
Having ten different social media accounts is a lot of time-intensive work to maintain, and most of them will probably end up being abandoned in a short period of time.
You aren’t going to boost visitors to your website by creating multiple accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and SnapChat, only to let them become stale because you’re not regularly maintaining them (plus actually managing all these accounts would be a huge drain on your time).
Instead of creating multiple accounts that you will never find the time to manage, investigate what platforms your target market spends most of their time on. Choose the platforms that work for you, your business objectives, and your demographic.
An important thing to bear in mind when creating your business’ social media marketing approach is that not all social media platforms will suit every type of business.
For example, a highly visual platform, like Instagram, will be perfect for a business that specialises in attractive products, like florists, graphic designers, makeup artists and fashion outlets. It won’t work at all for a business that doesn’t present unique visuals, like medical centres or corporate professionals.
2. It’s about making as much noise as possible
In social media marketing, it’s crucial to have a strategy, and to adhere to that strategy – for the most part, anyway. You’ll want to develop posts around major events and holidays, but there’s absolutely no need to post about everything all the time. In fact, this could have a negative effect on your engagement levels.
Posting consistently and regularly is one thing – and this is certainly recommended if you want to have a substantial impact – but there is such a thing as overkill.
Posting twenty times a day isn’t likely to impress your audience. This might actually become annoying and tiresome. Think in terms of quality rather than quantity. Is what you’re posting engaging, interesting or relevant to your followers? Is anyone even watching? Does anyone care?
Check on the success of your posts, and work out what works best from there. Pay attention to the kinds of responses you’re getting and what your results look like.
3. Success is directly linked to your number of followers
A common view is that big numbers mean success. This is a pretty dated idea, harking back to the early days of social networking, but some businesses still use numbers like Facebook page likes and Twitter followers as measures of success.
The thing is, big numbers don’t actually mean very much, especially because followers and likes can be bought and sold (this, incidentally, is not a great idea, just in case you were wondering).
A more accurate gauge of your results is to look at engagement levels. If you have a million followers, you should be getting more than two or three likes or comments per post. The key is looking at how your audience responds to what you’re putting out.
Again, it is a far better idea to prioritise quality over quantity. Ultimately, people will follow you because they’re interested in what you are selling or providing, your industry expertise, your values, and how appealing and compelling your brand is.
4. It’s free
Well, no – not exactly. As a service, yes, many social networks are free to join. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t cost anything – it’s still a resource investment.
For one thing, they take a lot of time. They also require a considerable amount of expertise to use effectively.
Moreover, there are many situations whereby you will need to make significant investment to ensure the right kind of success. For some businesses, this might mean hiring a social media marketing expert (more on that in a moment).
When all is said and done, however, social media marketing is still very cost-effective when compared to traditional marketing methods. Furthermore, because the social media marketing industry is highly competitive and constantly growing, paid products for businesses are offered at low cost. Even if you do decide to engage the services of a social media specialist, the long-term benefits still outweigh incurred costs, making it a strategic investment.
5. My customers aren’t on social media
Just for starters, there are 1.59 billion active users on Facebook, 310 million on Twitter, and 500 million on Instagram.
In 2015, the Sensis Social Media Report found that about a third of social media users in Australia follow businesses or brands via social media, and this has remained fairly consistent since 2013.
Chances are, your customers are already on social media and are very receptive. And your competition is probably there, too.
6. Negative comments are terrible for your business’s reputation
No-one likes negative comments – granted. Negative comments aren’t pleasant – sure. But they can be a great opportunity to illustrate and further develop your brand’s customer care and trustworthiness if there is a prompt and appropriate response.
This can allow your business to address customer concerns and questions in a genuinely helpful way. When you use social media to follow up, it helps to show legitimacy and consistency.
Positively responding to these negative comments is a stunningly successful way to build better customer relationships from poor situations. Show your followers that you care about providing the best possible customer service and fixing your mistakes. They’ll love you for it.
7. It’s fine to post the same content on multiple channels
A lot of businesses do this. It just seems easier, right?
Trouble is, what works on Facebook won’t always work on Twitter, and vice versa. Simply put, all platforms work differently and present information in various ways, functions and styles.
Moreover, reposting the same posts on different platforms can just look sloppy or lazy. Put bluntly, this can make it seem like you simply couldn’t put in the effort to make original content, and this can also tarnish what your followers will think of the content.
Customising the content you post across all your social media platforms is essential, and always make sure the content suits the social media platform it’s on.
8. It’s easy
Well, sure – anyone can Tweet. Technically speaking. However, that doesn’t actually mean they’ll be any good at it.
Social media marketing might look easy because everyone including your nanna seems to be on it. And in a non-professional capacity, that’s perfectly fine. But should your nanna be placed in charge of your business’s social media profiles? Probably not.
Where it might seem simple, effective social media marketing is actually a kind of art-form. Typing at random and hoping that someone is listening doesn’t cut it.
While social media marketing can transform the way in which you connect with customers when used strategically, incorrect use can be detrimental to your business. Posting poorly worded content or conveying an inappropriate message can cause considerable damage.
If you are unsure, hire a marketing specialist who lives and breathes social media. An expert will be able to create a social media marketing campaign that works with your business needs, industry and target market.