5 Stupid Things the World Makes You Believe About Social Media

Nov 26, 2013   //   by Tracy Vides   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  No Comments

When something becomes popular, myths will invariably mushroom around it. Social media has now led the way for companies and organizations to create a new sense of purpose – to build trust, to engage with customers better, and to potentially bring in business through the act of thought leadership or influence. So, social media now has hot emerging trends such as social recruiting, social selling, and social intelligence. There are trends, there’s potential, and add to it the fact that social media also happens to be completely free (unless you factor in time, money spent on tools, or payments made to staff or contractors who help you manage your networks and accounts).

As is common for anything this popular, there are some stupid things the world will make you believe about social media – especially eloquent will be the ones who’ve never been on social media, never gained a thing from it, lost half their mind due to it, the naysayers and disbelievers.

They’ll reiterate and repeat it to the point that you’ll start to believe. It doesn’t have to be so. Here are some of those stupid things that you can lend a deaf ear to:

Social media is for teens, kids, and losers

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There are social networks for teens. Almost any social media network will have its own share of losers. Kids are usually not a part of the overall buying market (it’s the parents who buy stuff for kids). Social media might have teens and youngsters as a large portion of their collective database but that is the market at which most businesses, online or offline aim for. What’s new about that?

Most B2C businesses will find Facebook to be a social network they can’t afford not to be on. According to an infographic created by Jess3 and shared by Zoe Fox of Mashable, Facebook has long proven itself to be the most engaged of all the other networks.

It’s just not teens and youngsters who are on Facebook too. Since 2009, the average age of Facebook users has steadily been increasing. What’s more, it is now claimed that “oldies” have chased kids and teens off to other social networks!

Ignoring the losers, the 1.2 + billion people with more than 50% of them logging in everyday is a huge database. All businesses, take note.

Social media makes no sense

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Social media might look like chaos. Nothing might make sense for the unprepared and the uninitiated. Conversations take on random topics, everything seems to be trending, the world seems to have gotten used to breaking news on Twitter, connecting with friends or family on Facebook, blogging on Tumblr, and networking on LinkedIn. There is, however, method to the madness, sense in every interaction, like, follow, comment, and retort for every user who makes it on any social media network.

It’s up to businesses to find the threads of connections between users who are on social media and make out what they want and what they can get out of it.

Social media is for fun

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It’s fun to interact with complete strangers on social media, on a global scale. You can barge into conversations on a seemingly happening or trending hashtag. You could mention any company, celebrity, author, sportsperson, model or business magnate, and probably even elicit a response from them. It’s fun to see your name, brand, or business mentioned. It’s a good feeling to amass followers and fans.

Yet, there’s a calculated effort going into social media. Brands leverage social media and small business owners make connections that last for a long time. Authors get their publishers, salespeople complete deals worth millions of dollars, and random users consume more information through social media than ever.

It’s fun. But it’s the kind of fun that pays.

Social Media has no ROI

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This is where I’m going to do most of the talking.

Just google social selling success stories and you’ll realize the extent to which the world discounts the potential of social media for ROI – in the strictest sense of cash, deals, and business. I did this and it made me rather sad. Social selling is here to stay. Add social recruiting to it, and you can actually measure how much a business can save each year by not over-relying on job boards or headhunters. Actual business deals are being made on LinkedIn as we speak. Twitter and Facebook lead to business as well – sometimes directly, but mostly indirectly.

Consider this: Following a random tweet (with a link to a post), a user gets to a website which offers for download a report put out by your company. She reads the report and lets the content marinate in her head. Ten days later, she checks your site and buys your product, because it has been developed incorporating all the desirable traits described in the report.

Not only do social networks work indirectly, but seemingly different websites also work indirectly as social networks. Read that again.

Allow me to elaborate. If you’re looking at hotel reviews, the rants and raves on TripAdvisor could lay bare the difference between truth and marketing. If you’re planning to launch a website, a simple comparison of hosting providers on WhoIsHostingThis will help you decide one that you’d prefer, based on existing customer ratings. And any company that doesn’t care about its customers better be wary of what’s being said about it on RipoffReport. You get the idea – any place where your business is the subject of discussion is social media. Where there is no ROI, there is sentiment.

When millions of people start talking, with friends, family, associates and many others, and when company names, brands, places, and people’s references are thrown about in the open, how can there be no value for beneficiaries involved?

Social media does have ROI. It’s just that it’s slower – and more indirect — than most businesses are used to.

Social media is a time suck

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If you spend all day tweeting, updating your status, commenting on others’ posts, and engaging in small talk or random conversations, it’s certainly a time suck. You, however, are a business owner (or a full-fledged, well-staffed company). Most businesses have an organized effort for social media.

Social media can be boxed into a set timeframe. With all updates bulk-loaded into the right tools, all your sharing can happen in a controlled manner. Businesses are strapped for time during the day to respond, retweet, comment, and show other niceties on social media, but the Social Media Hat has some good ways to leverage your time on social media.

Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com has a great post on Social Media Today, which points you to the right apps that help you avoid being sucked into the vortex. Social media doesn’t have to be a time-suck when you learn how to manage your time, leverage the many tools available, and strictly ration your time.

If it’s all about time management, why should engagement get a bad rap?

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Tracy Vides

Tracy Vides is a content strategist and researcher who gives small business and entrepreneurs marketing and social media advice. Follow her on Twitter @TracyVides if you’d like to connect!

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