When I work with clients or internal staff on social media projects, I always start by providing an overview of how to understand social media for their work. A part of this is debunking myths to get them to break preconceived notions and ideas about social. I explore some of these below.
- “Social media is just a fad.” There was a time when social media was thought to be a “flash in the pan”, but those days are gone. Today, media outlets only want pitches that include social media extensions; healthcare is migrating online; and news is shared 24-7 via social networks. Platforms may come & go and ebb & flow, but the concept of social media is here to stay.
- “Social media is cheap.” Again, at one point, social media had this halo of “cheaper channel for message distribution” and it was not really common knowledge that not only does it cost a lot to manage social media handles but as well there is paid social media, i.e. social ads. Recently, this is becoming more common knowledge and with Facebook’s shift towards a “pay to play” model, this is becoming more commonplace. The fact remains, social isn’t cheap or free or inexpensive. It costs money and requires an investment.
- “We can’t measure results in social media.” Again, there are different takes on social media measurement. There of course is lots of data. What that data means is another question. And what you do with that data or if/how that data can work for your business or research question is another question, all together. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t data there or that it isn’t measureable. Key to debunking this myth is setting appropriate goals and figuring out what metrics matter to you.
- “Social media might work for certain industries but it won’t work for us.” Years ago, social media was more quickly picked up by entertainment or celebrity brands, and more traditional brands like those in health or government were less willing to invest and experiment. That is shifting now. Nevertheless, there are still many businesses and industries that shy away from using it but more and more there are examples from all types of industries that can serve as models for those newer to social media.
- “Let’s make a viral video!” One of my favorites! No one can ever just develop a video and make it go viral. Unless you have GREAT content. And maybe a celebrity or two. And babies and puppies. And cats. And Ryan Gosling. If you’ve got all of that, then maybe, just maybe, you will have an immediate viral video. So if anyone tells you they can do this, run. Run fast. In the opposite direction. Now that is not to say that there are levers that can be pulled to get a video in front of more eyeballs, but it isn’t magic and it does require planning and work.
- “YouTube is only for humorous or celebrity video content – we cannot associate our brand with those!” For those of you that don’t know, YouTube is the second largest search engine online. Yes, it has all sorts of content but it is the number 2 platform that people use to get information so considering it as part of your social media strategy is critical to raising the visibility of your content, brand, campaign, etc.
- “I’ve started a Facebook page so, Check! I’ve got social media covered!” Another favorite! It is an actual pet peeve of mine when people think of social media as being Facebook and Twitter. There is so much more in social – outreach, listening, paid ads, etc. – so think about it more broadly and realize that “doing social media” doesn’t mean that you need to have a Facebook page. There are ways to engage that do not require these mainstream direct-to-consumer platforms – and that might make it easier to jump in and ultimately more successful in terms of your goals.
- “Let’s just delete all the negative comments so no one will see them.” Social media is meant to be transparent, and thinking you can just delete all the “bad stuff” won’t work in social. Either you’ll use your credibility with your community or you’ll get called out on it. Think about it like a relationship – if you are committing to it, you are committing to all of it – the good, the bad and the “delete-worthy” stuff too.
- “We’ve got to have this all figured out before we jump in.” Social media is constantly changing, new platforms are emerging, olds ones fade away; populations migrate; devices and platforms change and evolve. The simple fact is that is if you are waiting for start your social media until you understand it all and have it all figured it out, you’ll miss out on so much opportunity. Consider how to start slow and bite off small pieces until you are comfortable.