5 Myths about Social Media


One of the biggest challenges in social media comes when someone or other posts vehemently abusive comments or tweets about your company.

This is what happened some weeks ago when link shortening tool Bit.ly changed their website to the confusion and outrage of most of their users.

It’s in these moments, when you see a Community Manager trying to put out the bonfire one droplet at a time, that you realise what social media is about. You realise it’s not all sunshine and rainbows like many tweeters might have you believe and you start to do away with some of the myths surrounding social.

So what are these myths? Well, there are many, and doubtless you’ll have plently more to add, but here are some of the deceptive ideas that come around most often:

  1. The more followers and likes you have, the bigger your reputation. Really? Does that mean that @LadyGaga, with 26m Twitter followers is more highly renowned than @BarackObama, who lags behind with 16m? Clearly not. Apart from the fact that followers can be bought fairly easily using services like intertwitter.com (1000 followers for $12!), the number of followers that a user has is usually just down to the amount of time they devote to their account, the controversy of their content or the fact that they went on Big Brother once. It seldom has any relation to your professional reputation.
  2. Social Media is free. This is a myth that is almost universally held by those new to social media and one that causes the most frustration. No activity that you do for your business will ever be free. Let’s get that straight. The platforms themselves are indeed free, or very cheap, but your time and the resources you’ll need to spend to create a useful social media strategy will not be free. Unless you invest sufficient time – and probably money too – in your strategy you’ll most likely never see many of the potential benefits.
  3. If you have social network profiles you don’t need a company website. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Does this mean that if Facebook or Twitter get hacked you take the day off work and wait until they’ve sorted out the problem? Though it’s useful, social media it can seldom be a replacement for a business site or online shop, mainly just because you don’t own them. Any day they could change or remove some functionality or other and scupper your whole activity. Remember that you and your business mean nothing to the big dogs who control the networks.
  4. You should transfer your whole budget from offline activities to online ones.Don’t think social networks are a replacement for old forms of marketing and publicity. Though revolutionary in many ways, it’s more helpful to consider social media as an evolution of old strategies. So don’t do away with your business card just yet, and do keep putting effort into having top notch promotional leaflets and information to hand out at networking and business events.
  5. Everything is easily measurable in social media. This is something you hear a lot in social media, and though it isn’t strictly inaccurate, measuring the return on your social media activity is something most people never crack. As a general rule you should think about investing 10% of your money and time in your analytics tools and the other 90% in the person who interprets the data. The data is out there, but making sense of it and putting it to good use is another matter that takes specialised skill.

Like in many areas of life it’s by far the easier option to believe fairy tales than just to get down to work. It’s always nicer to believe the person who tells you that with social media you’ll double your sales in a month than the person who tells you that to succeed you must devote all your time to producing quality content, analysing the data behind your results and conveying a sense of transparency through all your social media channels. But if you take the advice of the realist you’ll be living the dream a lot sooner than if you listen to the dreamer!