It is nearly impossible to imagine our lives without social media – yet the oldest of the current platforms that have become indispensable to us, Facebook, is only about 16 years old. And yet, in this short time, many myths surrounding social media marketing has sprung up, that continues to hamstring the efforts of businesses and marketers to successfully market their products and services.
Myth (noun) “a widely held but false belief or idea.”
Let us have a look at three of the most persistent social media myths that may well be hampering your communication efforts.
Myth 1: Social Media Marketing is free marketing
While it is true that social media is in general a free channel, the truth is that there is no such thing as free marketing. Properly quantified, the simple fact that social media requires quite a time investment is already a cost to measure when engaging in marketing on social media. Another cost that is a crucial expenditure on any marketing campaign – including social media – is researching and defining your ideal audience. (Read more: Marketing research & Consumer Insight ) Without this very clear understanding of who your ideal audience is, and where you can find them, you have no guarantee of reaching potential consumers. Lastly, creating quality content that engages your ideal audience and funnels them into sales, requires time and expertise. These skills come with a cost, and without these professionals you run the risk of only creating a lot of noise on social media. And we have not even touched on paid or promoted advertising yet …
Myth 2: The more followers my page has, the more successful I am
The truth is that many followers does not directly affect the success of your social media strategy. In this one the tricky Facebook algorithm step in and confuses all calculations. The number of followers you have does not equal the number of people who will see your posts. This is because the Facebook algorithm delivers content to member accounts based on relevance, in other words, how relevant the Artificial Intelligence (AI) machine learning determines the information you are providing to be to the member account before posting the content to their wall. A smaller, but relevant follower number vastly increases the chances of your posts connecting directly with ideal protentional or even intentional consumers and/or brand advocates.
Many businesses are tempted into running competitions to gain likes on their page, believing this will lead to greater social media marketing success. However, if one considers (and the Insights bears this out) that many likes are gained by people only interested in winning the prize who will, after the competition, unlike the page because their interest is not truly in the business but only in the competition, it will mean that the cost of running the campaign as well as the cost of the prize offered will show very little, if any, return on investment.
Fun Fact: There are many Facebook pages that exists to alert their members of other Facebook pages running competitions. These members then rush the competition page and like and/or subscribe to win the prize. The members of these competition-alert pages have no interest in any business offering the prize, only the prize itself.
Myth 3: I will see big results from my social media activities in a month or two.
The reality is, it takes time and consistency to build a social media presence and to grow a loyal following. In fact, most businesses will need to work on for anywhere between 6 to 12 months before they can expect consistent and predictable results. Sudden and near-overnight success related to a viral post or video that build a large following in a very short time are the extreme exceptions, and it with this it should also be cautioned that viral sensations are generally accidental and not planned. A contrived attempt at a viral sensation will quickly be sussed out by savvy social media users and will have lasting negative consequences to the perpetrators.
Businesses that have a budget to spend on paid campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can grow their communities quicker. Keep in mind, however, that paid campaigns leading to quick growth will also require additional resources to maintain content marketing and community management (Read more: Steering the conversation positive ) to ensure ongoing engagement and awareness.