Marketing professionals can agree on one thing–we live in an industry that’s constantly changing. Whether we’re on a PR team at a Fortune 500 company or manage media buying for a small business, there’s always a new tool or best practice we can implement to better communicate and measure our content.
Our industry moves rapidly. Google tweaks its algorithm constantly. Ad blockers are on the rise until they’re not. Twitter revises its character limit. Mobile messaging apps are taking over, or are they? Instagram turns into Snapchat. The list goes on and on and on.
As members of an evolving industry, we stay consistent by viewing certain standards as industry-wide truths. This makes us more comfortable with the constant change happening all around us–especially if the methodology we’re following was endorsed by an expert. However, when it comes to marketing, there is no such thing as a hard and fast rule. There’s no foolproof blueprint for success.
Our ability to swiftly pivot and readjust our focus is what made us marketers to begin with. Often times obeying the rules and following the standards is counterintuitive to hitting it out of the park. That’s why I’ve decided to bust some common social media myths that need to be put to rest.
1. Social Used to Be Free
The decline of organic reach has prompted social marketing expert after social marketing expert to state that, “social isn’t free.” While it’s left advertisers lamenting for the “good old days.” After all, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when social media really was free. False. Social media was never free.
Brands who rely on the intern to connect with their consumers at scale and manage their social presence have always been missing the mark. Social is a powerful PR and marketing tool. Brands who were winning during organic reach’s heyday–and who continue to see success, have always been investing budget, resources and time into their social marketing efforts. Creating awesome social content costs money. It requires a strategist and team, not an unpaid intern.
2. Social Metrics Don’t Matter
If you think that social media metrics don’t matter, you’re wrong. Anyone who thinks audience demographics and other social metrics like reach, impressions or engagement don’t impact the bottom line is gravely misinformed.
Think that content geared toward a generic audience is best? You’re wrong. In fact, 74% of consumers are frustrated with brands who serve them content that doesn’t meet their interests. Do you believe ignoring your customers on social is OK? Seeing as 1 in 3 people will go to a competitor if your brand ignores them on social, you might want to reconsider.
Collecting and analyzing your social footprint has only gotten easier as third-party tools and native enhancements have been introduced. These insights paired with Google Analytics and digital marketing tools like Kenshoo or Marin provides a holistic, comprehensive picture of who a brand’s audience is and how they’re interacting with that brand’s product or services.
Social metrics are available and accessible. The onus is on your brand’s senior leadership to make sure these metrics matter to members of your broader organization.
3. Social Doesn’t Drive Sales
When it comes to social media, it’s about influencing your consumer’s purchasing decisions. Actually, 75% of people have purchased something because they saw it on social. So if you’re still asking, “does social drive sales?” The answer is “of course it does.” It may take some work but you can even attribute social to sales.
Once someone opts into following your brand on social, they’re already interested in your product or aligned with your brand in some way. However, before you spend money on paid social posts, you need to take time listening to your audience. It’s smart to determine what type of content they want to see, hear and read.
Your consumer insights, product, PR, marketing and sales team should be involved in this process. To start you need to collect and analyze data such as your consumer’s search history, purchase habits and other digital actions. Than you can start to target your social media advertising to be more effective. Listening first and advertising second will help drive your budget decisions later. These insights can even help you decide which organic posts might be worth boosting.
For example, our agency does lot of community management work for the Shell Houston Open, a PGA TOUR event in Houston. Through our community management efforts and our paid media measurement and optimization, we grew our fan base by 23% in 2016 and increased ticket sales revenue by 25% YOY.
— Shell Houston Open (@ShellHouOpen) March 30, 2016
4. My Customers Aren’t on Social
This is true. There are small slivers of consumers who aren’t on social, but chances are these aren’t all of your customers. There are 1.25 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 500 million on Instagram, 450 million on LinkedIn and 313 million on Twitter. Between all of these people, there’s someone you can market to and engage with.
If you don’t think your target audience isn’t on social, chances are you haven’t done enough work to find them. Regardless if you’re a B2B or a B2C company you need to understand what social networks your audience is most active on and target those channels. As you continue to do your research, you’ll likely find a new demographic on social that you didn’t even know was interacting with your product or services.
5. Your Brand Has to Be on Every Social Platform
Plain and simple: no you don’t. You have to be active on the social platforms that make sense for your brand. It’s important to be present where your consumers are engaging. By no means do you have to be on every network. In fact, you shouldn’t be on every social media site. Doing so will only drain your time, budget and resources. Additionally, managing social media accounts on every network can lead to a haphazard and inconsistent strategy.
For businesses with products that aren’t visually appealing or interactive, ignore YouTube. Does your audience know what Periscope is? If not, don’t waste your time. If your audience is more receptive to long-form editorial content, try LinkedIn or Medium. When you focus your efforts at being present where your target demographic is already active, your customers will find you.
This sentiment is especially in conversations I’m currently having with one of our agency’s B2B clients. They sell heavy construction equipment direct to local dealers. When they came to us, they had a Facebook Page, an Instagram account and even a Pinterest page. Our client had all three of these social accounts for each of the three brands the business sells. That’s 12 pages to manage!
We conducted a customer voice study for the company and learned that what the sales team wanted most from the company was a regular stream of information they could pass on to their customers explaining various differentiators of each piece of equipment and the different brands the equipment belonged to. Our customer voice study also reveled that the sales team was primarily active on LinkedIn and Facebook. We ended up streamlining the company’s social communication to only those two networks and turned the pages into an information hub for their very active base of loyalists.
6. Content & Social Are Separate
Once you determine which social channels your consumers are on, it’s time to create content that keeps them wanting (and sharing more). Producing engaging, high-quality content is crucial for your brand’s success on any social network. Jay Baer has been preaching for years that content is the fuel and social is the fire. Content and social are interchangeable. You can’t have one without the other.
Capture your social audience by creating native content that takes a stance, fits with the network you’re publishing on and speaks directly to your audience’s pain points and interests. General Electric is a powerful example of a company who recognizes that content and social are connected.
While the five #GE Haliade turbines that make up @DeepwaterWind’s #BlockIslandWindFarm tower 600 feet above the water, there’s a lot going on under the surface. Photographer @daviddoubilet captures a lion’s mane jellyfish gliding underneath a turbine during our #OffshoreBlockParty — one of many marine creatures, native to Block Island, that have begun using the turbines' steel supports for shelter. #underwaterphotography #renewableenergy
The brand creates unique content for all its channels. Even without a global brand’s behemoth budget, you can still create great content tailored to each social network.
Which social media myths are you tired of hearing and reading about? And what is your brand doing to prove the naysayers wrong? Let me know on Twitter at @MagsMac.
Maggie Malek: started at MMI Agency in Houston as an Account Executive and is now the company's Head of PR and Social Media.