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Social Media

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					Social Media
I am fortunate in my job to talk to a lot of people interested in using social media as part of their

marketing mix. Often, I hear the same questions and objections about using social media. I understand

the concern. The fact is objections or questions are valid when social media is not approached correctly.

The problem is that valid objections can easily be confused with social media myths – objections that

sound real, but don’t reflect actual reality.

My goal here is to address some of the myths about Social Media. I want to give you a clean slate to use

in thinking about integrating these tools into your overall marketing program. This is what I like to call

Social Media Myth Busting!

                              President, VillageWorks Communications, Inc.
                                                         MYTH #1
Let’s face it, this one can be totally true, but only if you allow it. You can control your social media time just as you control how much
time you spend on your other duties and interests.

True confession: I have been guilty of wasting time with social media myself. I have procrastinated starting a project by spending
time on Twitter or Facebook. But, I don’t have to allow that to happen. If I look at social media as part of an overall toolkit I use to
reach specific strategic goals, managing the time spent on it becomes much easier.

I find as soon as you set your goals and create a strategy to achieve these goals it becomes clear when and how to spend your time. With
planning, you will adopt some daily, weekly and monthly routines that help you to better use your time, and determine how much time to use.

What, you don’t have any time? Are you sure? Look at your current routine —there is likely at least some time that is not being used
e ectively to achieve your goals. Maybe there is a marketing initiative that isn’t providing the results it once did, or an analysis that
no longer needs to be run.

The great thing about social media is that is isn’t limited to 9 to 5, so you can work it into your schedule when it’s most convenient.
Due to family responsibilities, I’m not able to attend networking events that take place before or after school. But using social
media allows me to network from home while supervising homework or getting dinner ready.

                                               The bottom line:
Set goals, schedule it into your day and you can avoid“wasting time” on social media.
                                                     MYTH #2
                         SOCIAL MEDIA IS JUST FOR KIDS
When you look at the demographics, you will notice that the usage trends for social media are beginning to shift to an older
audience. Sure there are kids and young adults on every social media platform, but there are a lot of Generation Xers and Baby
Boomers using these tools as well. In fact, some studies have shown that people, particularly women, over 40 are one of the
fastest growing groups in terms of social media usage. According to a study published in PR Week in December 2009, 70% of
women over 50 report using social media sites in 2009 (up from 31% in 2008), and 95% of those under 30 do as well!

It really comes down to finding where your audience spends their time online and focusing on those outlets. Use sites like to look up the demographics on popular social media sites. I haven’t included any demographics here since they
are out of date as soon as you publish them, but you can easily check for current information.

Also, don’t shy away from those younger than you on social networks such as Twitter. You may find their knowledge of social
media and the Internet, in general, to be very helpful. You will quickly be able to weed out the people you want to stay connected
with and those that are just going to clutter up your news streams. But don’t discount feedback because of a user’s age, or use of
text shorthand or you could miss valuable input.

                                                 The bottom line:
                   Find the audience and demographic you want to engage with and get started.
                                         Social Media is not just for kids.
                                                         MYTH #3
                                      SOCIAL MEDIA IS A FAD
I’ll admit I’m finally beginning to hear this less and less, but this myth still exists. Social Media at its core is not a fad. What do I
mean by “at its core?” I mean the two-way communication that social media tools have created between companies and their

It has never been easier for a company to connect with a customer or vice versa. This idea of instant feedback and two-way
communication is not going to go away. Companies that choose to ignore online comments and conversations will find themselves
ignored by their audience in the future, and possibly su er a blackened reputation right now. This is why I say it’s not a fad.

What is a fad is the popularity and usage of specific social media sites and tools. For example, MySpace was the most popular
social networking site a couple years ago, but now it has declined as a mainstream social media tool. Still popular among younger
audiences and more entertainment based, it’s not the media darling it once was. Now the most talked about sites are Twitter and
Facebook. Chances are this will change over the next year or so as well. People will migrate to whatever becomes popular next.

                                                        The bottom line:
                                       So, yes, sites may be fads, but social media isn’t.
                                                      MYTH #4
Typically my first response to this myth is “Kelloggs cares what you had for breakfast.” My point is that while there is a lot of noise
on Twitter, there is also a lot of value if you know how and where to look, and understand why what you find is important.

You can cut through the clutter and find the conversations that interest you by using search and other resources. You will find other
people talking about the same things that interest you and your company. As I said earlier, by finding your target audience and
conversations, you will save time as well.

You will find on Twitter that people often mix both business and personal conversations. This bothers some people as they don’t
want to know what someone did on the weekend, but do value their business tweets during the week. I personally really like the
combination of business and personal. It allows you to extend relationships with your audience and instantly be better connected
when you meet o ine. You may also find new interests and ideas from people you follow that are not business related.

                                          The bottom line:
 You may hear what someone had for breakfast, but you may also find the connection with someone in your
                            target audience that leads you to a new sale.
                                                      MYTH #5
My response to this is a simple question “Would you allow your intern to be in charge of your sales or PR e orts?” I’m thinking
your answer would be “No.”

Your company’s voice on social media sites is as critical a representation of who you are as your logo and any other marketing and
communications. It should not be a temporary one or one that is not intimate with your company. This is not to say that an intern
can’t be helpful in setting up accounts and training you or sta on how to use the sites, but to put them in charge of the conversation
could be dangerous. Think of it as handing over your reputation when you give someone social media responsibilities. Do you really
want to give your entire corporate reputation to an intern?

The person or persons handling the day-to-day management and responses for your social media conversations should understand
the culture of your company, who to go to for answers and be involved in the overall social media strategy. They need to be
invested in the company and interested in truly learning from your customers. Not someone who is trying to gain some real-
world experience over the summer.

                                              The bottom line:
  Again, interns can be helpful in implementing and doing training when it comes to social media, but think
                             twice before turning your reputation over to them.
                                                     MYTH #6
                 MARKETING TOOLS
No, No, No!!! Social media is something that needs to be integrated into your Marketing Mix, not exist somewhere on its own. It is
another tool for you to add to your marketing toolbox that allows you to reach your target market. But it is not separate from your
other marketing!

Now, social media may use somewhat di erent marketing messages and tone since it tends to be two-way conversation and not as
promotional, but it still needs to integrate with your overall goals and strategies. Use this two-way conversation to your advantage
by asking for feedback on your product, marketing message or campaigns, but don’t wall it o on its own.

I want to point out a huge advantage to having your social media strategy integrated with your overall marketing strategy.
Recycling. Because you are integrating your e orts, you can reuse tools that you are currently using elsewhere or have even used
in the past. It’s time to look through the archives for old photos and even videos that can be shared with your community online.
Social media is not about reinventing the wheel, it is about using that wheel to take you to a new location.

                                            The bottom line:
       Use social media to extend and complement, not compete, with your overall marketing strategy.
                                                       MYTH #7
I have seen evidence of this myth a lot in my social media involvement. A person, say, Tom, reads about how another company was
successful on Twitter. Tom signs up for Twitter accounts. Tom tweets 10 self-serving tweets without trying to find anyone to follow.
Tom deems that Twitter and therefore all social media does not work and is never to be seen again on any social media sites.

Social media does take a shift in thinking for a lot of people, and that can be rough. In a social media site, you are no longer in com-
plete control of your marketing message; the community now controls it. The conversation is now two-way. Blatant self-promotion
is frowned upon. Ignoring comments can lead to criticism. And the more you give the more you receive.

You will not have overnight success in this new medium, but if you set goals, create a strategy and then work your plan you can see
results and success. Social media, due to its relative newness, does take a little bit of trial and error. You will find some tools work
better for you than others and what works on one site doesn’t on another. The more you truly engage and converse with people,
the more you will get out of your e orts.

                                                 The bottom line:
                        Plan your work and work your plan to make social media work for you.
                                                     MYTH #8
I have seen this school of thought a lot lately. Why pay to have a Web site when I can just set up a page on Facebook? I have even
seen people that should know better suggest this. It’s wrong.

You need a hub, in this case your Web site or blog, that you control to disseminate the message you need to deliver. You need some
central place that you can drive people to get more information or your response to an issue. Think of your site as the hub and all
your social media activities as the spokes that come o from it – all are necessary to make the wheel turn and drive the vehicle.

In addition, you do not want your main point of communication to be under the control of someone else’s terms of service. Face-
book, Twitter and other sites can and do change their privacy and terms of service whenever they feel like it and you need to stay
in compliance with those. You are also at their mercy for uptime if you solely rely on them for your online presence. You don’t pay
these companies any money, they do not care if your Fan page or account is up and available to your audience. If the site is down,
you lose opportunities and business. When you pay to host your site or blog, it’s your provider’s job to provide as much uptime as
possible, and they do.

Your web site also gives you the ability to announce new products or respond to situations as you see fit with as much information
as you want. You are not limited to 140 characters. You can go into as much detail as you want or need, then use your social media
spokes to let people know information is on your site and provide the link.

                                                    The bottom line:
                       Yes, you need a site to act as your hub for all your social media activity.
                                                       MYTH #9
                                       SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE
Yes, it is true that most of the sites you can use as part of your social media strategy are free of charge. But you need to factor in
the time and other resources needed to properly develop your social media presence and execute your strategy.

To make the most of a social media e ort you may need to update your Web site or create custom graphics and backgrounds to be
used on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. As I said before, an advantage of social media is the ability to reuse marketing materials in
this new medium, but you still had an expense in producing them initially.

There are also costs involved with the tools that help you to create the content to be used in social media, including cameras and
video cameras. Some people may even purchase a smart phone and applications to allow for mobile updates.

In addition to the hard costs, you have the resource cost of time for someone to manage these accounts. This could become an
additional responsibility of a current employee or could be a new full-time position. Monitoring and tracking social media mentions
will take at least time and possibly money if you want to get detailed analytics. If you hire a consultant to assist with monitoring,
strategy, implementation or training, you must figure this expense as well.

                                                The bottom line:
            Social media can be a cost e ective means of marketing, but by no means is it 100% free.
                                                     MYTH #10
                     IT IS TOO HARD TO TRACK RESULTS
We want to know if this stu is working, right? While I’m not a fan of the old phrase of Return on Investment because it is too nar-
row in its definition, people do want to know if their e orts are producing any results. To do this, as I have said before, set goals.

If you know what you want to get out of your social media e orts, it’s easier to see if you are achieving those results. You need to
choose what you want to measure and how you will define failure or success.

Some things you may consider to measure are number of comments, sales by tracking discount codes or asking for referrals, and
number of click-throughs on links as well as number of retweets or sharing to show thought leadership and influence. You may also
choose to use a social media monitoring service to evaluate and track these markers, which can yield particularly valuable informa-

                                              The bottom line:
So while social media may not produce the same measurable types of ROI that other forms of marketing do,
   that doesn’t mean it isn’t measurable at all, or that it isn’t creating positive results for your business.
  We have busted 10 common myths that often are an
obstacle that keeps people from using social media as an
                e ective marketing tool.
         Go set goals, create a plan and get engaged.

  And if you need Village Works Communications at 240.529.3000 to help you get started!


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