Business and Social Media – 9 Bogus Statements

The business world is buzzing with questions about Social Media Marketing these days.  Whether they’re trying to figure out what do to now that they’re on LinkedIn or Facebook, or what exactly is Twitter and how would I use it for my business or ‘how do you find time to do all this Social Media stuff?’, there’s a lot of talking going on.

I was lucky enough to present last week at the Central Exchange to a sold out room on How to Use Social Media for your Business.  We only had an hour, so it was basically just scratching the surface but the discussions I’ve been hearing and having about the topic over the last couple of months have been fascinating.

Opinions are a lot like…well let’s just say that everyone has one.  What’s great about Social Media is that a lot of people feel very strongly about it, in both directions!  Everything from “It’s the best thing ever!”  to “What a waste of time – who cares what I had for breakfast!”.  The reality is somewhere in the middle – used the right way, Social Media Marketing can be a big benefit to small business owners, a great cost-effective way to generate leads, drive traffic to your website and make your customers happy.

Anyway, I thought I would share a list of 9 things about Social Media and Business that I’ve heard recently that are just bogus – let me know what you think.

1.  Social Media Marketing doesn’t work for small businesses.

Social media marketing, done correctly, in a well planned mix of other marketing strategies can be a fantastic way to multiply your marketing results.  Major companies like Dell, Southwest Airlines have used Social Media for success – and here’s a great example of a tangible product business that’s used it to great success as well:  Social Media success story – Masi Bikes.  Closer to home, I’ve heard all sorts of stories about people getting leads through activities on LinkedIn, the Kansas City Online Community or Twitter.  None of these stories are the equivalent of winning the lottery, but the return on investment is generally really high.  Here are two more quick examples of business success – Lewis Howes (I met Lewis via LinkedIn when he was just getting started – it’s amazing to see how far he’s come), Crescent Solutions – an IT staffing company.

2.  Social Media is for kids, not business!

The average age of a user on LinkedIn is 41.  A recent report on the state of Social Media Marketing showed that the age group of 30 – 39 are the most prevalent users for social media marketing (by the way, check out that report – it’s a free download and it’s very well done).

There is a generational bias (or comfort level) initially and Myspace is definitely oriented towards kids, but there are plenty of social media tools that are intended for and are being used by adult business professionals.

3.  I’ve got an offline business, I don’t need an online presence

This one is just sad, it wasn’t true 10 years ago.  There’s a reason that major metropolitan newspapers are going out of business.  There’s a reason that the Yellow Pages (and similar competitors) are quickly losing revenue from the print side of the house.  Other than being a convenient doorstop, most people aren’t using the phone book anymore, they’re searching online – and if you’re not online, then you’re in trouble.

Question:  When’s the last time you googled yourself and your company name?  If you don’t have a Google Alert set up for at least those two items, then you’re flying blind.

4.  Social Media Marketing is all about the tools and the technology

Despite all of the training courses, the e-books, the videos and the early adopter obsession with the technology that’s available, they are all missing the point.  It’s great that Twitter has 37 different interfaces you can download or that there are dozens of applications you can use with Facebook, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter.  Just like any other strategic marketing activity, you have to:

  • Understand your target market first, where are they, what do they do, what do they like…?
  • Understand your benefits – what makes your product / service different, interesting, valuable (to your target market)?
  • Have a plan – what is it that you want your target market to do?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the details of the technology, but it won’t help you grow your business without the right strategic approach.  John Jantsch makes this point very powerfully in his post today All Tweet and No Cattle!

5.  Social Media is great for selling

Success in using social media is built on building genuine relationships.  Aggressively trying to sell into your contact list will work against you, not only will people not buy from you, but you run the serious risk of them telling everyone else not to buy from you as well.

You can increase sales due to social media marketing, but it’s not because you used the tools to ‘sell’.  Marketing is about finding and connecting with people that are interested in the value you bring and the problems you can solve.  When they’re ready, they’ll buy from you, but you won’t be able to sell them directly without aggravating everyone.

6.  Social Media Marketing is a quick fix when you need more sales

Unfortunately there are no silver bullets.  Viral marketing is a great thing, and you may be able to catch lightning in a bottle, but the highest likelihood of success is slow and steady growth.  Find your target audience online, figure out how to connect with them and gradually convert them to customers.  Just like anything else that’s worthwhile, it takes time to succeed.

A lot of people jump onto the Social Media bandwagon with an expectation that creating a profile or two and updating your status 3 times a day will generate all sorts of traffic and leads.  People don’t care what you had for breakfast, but they do care that you understand their problem, that you suggest great resources, that you’re interesting in some way or that you’re genuine.  All of those take time.

7.  Social media doesn’t work, I’m on Facebook and I’m tweeting 10 times a day about my product and I’ve got no new business!

See point number 6 above.  Just like hard sell tactics don’t work at networking meetings, they really don’t work for social media.  You can’t force yourself on people, you have to figure out how to attract them to you. 

Also you need to figure out where your target audience hangs out – if you’re selling professional services to business owners and executives, Twitter and Facebook probably aren’t the right strategy – a better approach would be establishing your expertise, either through a blog, writing articles, doing insightful videos or demonstrations and sharing that content with your target audience.  That could be an email campaign – it could even be direct mail, sending them to your website to find the information.  Social Media marketing works best when it supporting other marketing initiatives.

8.  Social Media is only for touchy-feely people that use Macs

Alright, this one is mostly true.  Certainly it’s that kind of crowd that really got the ball rolling, but with the adoption numbers that have been growing by leaps and bounds in the last 6 months, all sorts of people are playing in the social media space these days.  In January, Facebook had over 57 Million unique visitors in the US – LinkedIn had almost 8 Million and both continue to grow at a huge pace.  Check out more details about US Social Networking Rankings.

9.  ?????

I need your help with number 9.  What common statements do you hear about Social Media marketing that aren’t true? 

Share your ideas in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

4 thoughts on “Business and Social Media – 9 Bogus Statements”

  1. Doug Hubler says:

    good info. I should probably have you teach our brokers about this networking thing. We should talk. Also, this google alert thing is new to me. Sounds interesting. Do you use it?

  2. Sheri Mortko says:

    Great post, Shawn, as always!
    I save them til I have a few moments and a cuppa to see what I can learn!
    I notice on Twitter, which I am still very new to, that there is a lot of ‘flaming’ re: life coaches. Have you noticed? I can guess that they, like others early on, may have been overzealous in their approach. ..as expressed in #5. Your thoughts? I Joy to you!
    Sheri

  3. Doug – Let me know when you want to get together. Regarding Google Alerts, I have several of them setup, they’re easy to use and handy because you don’t have to think about them once they’re set up.

    Sheri – as always, thanks for the comment. I haven’t noticed Life Coach flaming particularly, but a lot of people are new to Social Media and aren’t sure how to get engaged – which leads to poor etiquette.

    Shawn

  4. Bob Tarne says:

    Shawn – Good article. I love #8 (he types from his MacBook Pro). I find a lot of people don’t get twitter. It’s not about what I had for lunch. I’ve had good, 2-way conversations with people on it and received good advice through it.

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