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Debunking Six Social Media Myths

Debunking Six Social Media Myths

BusinessWeek

A successful social media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital, and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience, and the best social media marketers now have more than 10 years of experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content, and contests into online marketing.

Video contests by companies hoping for viral buzz and Google juice are as plentiful as mosquitoes on a humid summer night. But, like their insect counterparts, most video contests suck.

It’s the rare video contest that gets as many as 2,000 entries. Many, like Denny’s (DENM) recent disastrous effort, get fewer than 10 entries. Apparently, 48 Denny’s breakfasts over four years wasn’t a big motivator.

3. You can make a big splash in a short time. Sure, sometimes a social media campaign can produce substantial and measurable results quickly.

Social media is great if you’re already a star, but that doesn’t happen overnight. Amid the recent launch of my T-shirt design business, Pawfun.com, I have relied heavily on my 4,000-plus Twitter followers and 120,000 readers of my What’s Next Blog, which I’ve updated as often as five times a day since 2003. Because that network already exists, with not one dollar spent on advertising, we were able to generate more traffic in our first three days than some major companies get after years online.

ZapposChief Executive Tony Hsieh, whose company has millions of customers who are evangelists for the great service that built the brand, quickly became a Twitter star, with more than 32,000 followers. When Dell (DELL), JetBlue Airways (JBLU), the Chicago Bulls, and other love-‘em-or-hate-’em brands joined Twitter, they immediately developed huge followings.

Tweets can be used to drive traffic to articles, Web sites, contests, videos, and so on—if people already care about your brand, or if you have a truly original idea that people will want to share with their followers.

One recent example of a Twitter-generated success is Savvy Auntie, a community for aunts, godmothers, and “other women who love kids” that was launched six months ago by Melanie Notkin. She has counted on Twitter to drive traffic, help her find suppliers, products, and even investors. She developed a Twitter following before launching her business, then tapped into it for help when she launched.

4. You can do it all in-house. Wrong! You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience—a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools.

It is rare indeed to find an in-house team that can not only conceive and execute a social media campaign but also drive traffic to it with effective e-mail segmentation, search optimization, blogger outreach, blog advertising, Google ads, and more.

5. If you do something great, people will find it. Quite simply, that never was true. Until you can drive traffic to your social media effort, you’ve got a tree falling in the forest, heard only by those standing nearby. A great number of tools can drive traffic, including StumbleUpon, Digg, and Twitter, but nothing works better than word of mouse—one friend telling another, “Hey look at this!”

6. You can’t measure social media marketing results. You can use a variety of methods, including mentions on blogs and in media; comments on the content; real-time blog advertising results, and click-throughs to your company Web site. You can get very precise statistics from a variety of sites, including Google Trends, Twitter search, Google Analytics, BackType, and Compete.

The tools are there. The gurus who know how to use and interpret them—not so much.


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