Welcome to 2014, the New Year!
Facebook celebrates its 10th birthday in February. Social media is no longer a new fad but is something which is so pervasive that many businesses and brands have adopted. Unfortunately, there are still some companies that have yet to engage into social media. They may be making the same mistake as Google.
From a recent article, Google’s Executive Chairman and former CEO, Eric Schmidt, during an interview with Bloomberg TV, admitted that his biggest mistake while in Google was failing to anticipate the rise of the social networking phenomenon and that this is “not a mistake we’re going to make again.”
I believe he is not the only person who failed to anticipate the rise of social media. Many business owners have not seen or are yet to see the need and importance of social media because they are hesitant whether social media works for their businesses.
A famous idiom, “He who hesitates is lost,” speaks truth about these owners because they are lost in making the important decision. One of the major factors that contribute to their hesitation is the myths they heard about social media.
Below I share common social media myths — and I bust them. I hope that it will present a better understanding on social media and pave a way for business owners to swiftly decide if they should use social media for their businesses. Here are the social media myths (not in any chronological order):
Myth 1 – Social Media is just a fad. It will go away soon.
This myth was born since the day when social media was started. You could hear many people commenting that Social Media was just a fad and it would go away at that time. Today, after so many years and hundreds of social media platforms being launched, it is sad that we still hear this myth especially from older generation business owners.
Busting this Myth
To bust this myth, we need to understand the definition of social media. When you do a Google search on social media definition, the first result appears from Wikipedia (a social media platform) and it states that “Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.”
Now, the question we can ask ourselves: in today’s world overwhelming with iPads/tablets/smart phones, will interaction among people and virtual communities go away? The answer is a big No!
Social Media has influenced the way we connect and communicate with and this has become part and parcel of many people’s lifestyle. The technology and social media platforms may be a fad and go away but social media itself won’t.
Myth 2 – Social Media and Traditional Media are the same.
This myth comes about because of the term “media” which is used in Social Media. It confuses everyone and making them thinks that Social media and Traditional media are the same and there is no need for companies to have a social media presence.
Busting this Myth
To bust this myth, we need to know the differences between Social Media and Traditional Media. You can read them in this article I contributed in this blog titled: Back to Basics: How Social Media Differs From Traditional Media.
Myth 3 – Social Media is free. There is no need to allocate too much budget to it.
This myth originates from the free sign-up of account in social media platform. As it is free to sign up a Twitter account or starting a Facebook business page, some business owners and marketing professionals think that no budget or not much budget is required for using social media in their businesses. This resulted in poor management of the brand’s social media account as not much effort is considered to drive it because it is perceived to be free!
Busting this Myth
It is free to start an account on a social media platform but business owners and marketing professionals must know that the account must be managed. To do that, resources such as people, time and money have to be invested.
People are required to create content in the social media account, time is needed to build relationship and money is invested for connecting with the brand’s target audience and reward them with incentives. A successful brand’s social media account will have these three resources allocated to manage it.
Myth 4 – Social Media is EASY.
Another common myth that many people including some ‘social media gurus’ claimed. This myth emerges from the fact that when a person uses social media platform such as Facebook for their personal usage, it is easy so many people thought that it is the same when using social media for business. Business owners and marketing professionals who have these thoughts eventually give up on using social media for their business because they are not able to generate good content and achieve the results they want from their business social media account.
Busting this Myth
If Social Media is easy, there won’t be any ‘social media gurus’ around nor social media training courses nor the social media club and this blog!
Using social media for business is a challenging task.
Creating, curating and posting a good content, keeping the fans interested on your page, getting them to share the content you have posted, require strategic planning, thoughtful insights and countless research. A boring content or a simple mistake may result in negative consequences for the brand. This is why we have this blog to share and learn from each other on how to improve our brand’s social media.
Myth 5 – Social Media is just for the young. It’s not as effective for the older segment.
The existence of this myth is because people has the misconception that since social media is related to technology and young people are more tech savvy, social media is for them and not for the older generation or the seniors. With such thought, business owners and marketing professionals are missing a chunk of the social media users who are the older generation or the seniors.
Busting this Myth
A recent Social Media 2013 report from the Pew Internet and American life project shows the various age groups that use Facebook (the dominant player in the social networking space) as: 84% from age: 18 – 29, 79% from age: 30 – 49, 60% from age: 50 – 64 and 45% from age above 65+. These figures are not only in the United States but also reflected in other countries.
In Singapore, where I am based, I gave a talk on the subject of Social Media to more than 500 business owners and entrepreneurs in an event. During the talk, I wanted to prove that the seniors or older generation also use Social Media.
I conducted a live survey. I asked the audience how many of them use Social Media (or Facebook) and 99% of them raised their hands. I then asked them how many of them were below the age of 25 (In Singapore, young people are considered below the age of 25). The reply came from only 1 hand raised. It is less than 1%. From the report and this simple survey, it is not only the young people who are using Social Media but the older generation and the seniors are using it too.
For businesses who are reaching out to older target audience, they should not miss this opportunity to get connected with them via Social Media.
I hope these busted myths will help business owners and marketing professionals to rethink the usage of social media for your brands and help you better plan your social media strategies.
Please feel free to comment your thoughts on this article or share with us what other social media myths there are and how we can bust them.
Richard Wong is the founder Singapore-based social media agency GisMo ConneXion Services. He tweets at @richardwwc.