These days, everyone in the business world seems to be talking about “social media marketing” and how it can grow their business. Everyone wants to believe that taking on a social media strategy will magically drive in tons of new visitors to their website, which in turn will make them into customers at their business. However, for many small businesses, these expectations don’t always seem to come true. Here are several of the most common myths about how social media marketing will grow business, and tips on better approaches to using social media.
1. You need to hire a “social media guru” to handle your company’s social media accounts
Think you need some “internet ninja” to take care of your company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts? You most definitely don’t. Many businesses take one look at the words “social media marketing” and decide that they’d be better off with paying some young person to manage their social media accounts, which will cause business to magically grow on its own. Think again! Not only can social media accounts often be maintained by staff who already works at the business, but also, social media is not just some fad that only young people understand. Websites used for social networking are easy to use and easy to navigate – they wouldn’t have as many users as they do if this weren’t the case. You don’t need to know any fancy language or need to be a computer genius to make the most of social media sites.
2. You can be fluent in “Twitter”
While the average person who is new to Twitter may take one look at the site and feel instantly confused, there really isn’t that much to it. Twitter is used to broadcast short and quick statements to the public about what you’re up to, where you are, or in the case of business: what promotions are going on, new blog entries, or other news. Here is all you really need to know about using Twitter:
a) # – Hashtags
Hashtags (#) are used to make categories, or “trends.” You can put a hash tag between a word or multiple words (just remove the spaces) to create a category, or discuss a category that is already trending. You can tell what is trending based on the “trends” list on the right of your screen. For example, if you are “tweeting” about the weather and you want your tweet to fit into the category of “weather,” your tweet might look like this:
“Today is a beautiful day. #weather”
Don’t overuse hashtags – you should really only use them when you’re trying to make a certain part of your tweet searchable so other users can find what you are saying based on that category.
b) The @ sign
The only function that the @ sign serves is to direct your tweet at another Twitter user. If your friend’s username (or handle) on Twitter is Bob, you could tweet “Today is a great day, right, @Bob?” if you want all of your followers to see it. Or, you could send a Direct Message to Bob by saying “@Bob hi how are you?” Talking directly to your followers via the @ sign is a great way to build relationships with potential customers.
3. People are going to find YOU on social media sites
This is one of the most popular myths about social media, yet it couldn’t be further from the truth. Unless you happen to work for a company that already has tons of customers, fans, or followers in real life, it is probably going to be a challenge to find followers on your social media accounts. This is where promotion and word of mouth come into play. Make sure your in-person customers know where to find you on these sites. You can inform them of your username via a poster, a business card, or an email campaign. Provide incentives to people who do follow you or friend request you. For example, you can tell customers that you often have deals on your social media sites that are only available to followers. This is a guaranteed way to increase the amount of followers and fans on your pages.
4. Every business needs a strong social media presence
When considering your own business’ social media strategy, ask yourself one question: what does my actual customer base look like in real life? If you are catering your services to a population that is older or probably won’t be using digital media in the first place, don’t waste your time (and money) on social media. Stick to more traditional methods of marketing and customer relations. Although it is all the rage to use Facebook and Twitter for your business, there are many businesses that can get by just fine with an effective website and listings in online directories.