Social Media Myths, Fables, Fairytales, and Makebeliefs

I’ll get right to the point. There are so many people who are being misled in their thinking about how social media works. It is very obvious to see the results of this thinking in failed “campaigns” and spammy tactics that make people like me cringe.

I want to warn you, to educate you, and to arm you with the vocabulary to warn your friends and contacts.

Here are 3 lines of thinking that will lead you down the wrong path (social media speaking).

Are you falling for one of these 4 fallacies of social media?

Myth: Social Media is a Billboard

Oh look! Free advertising!

Stop right there.

So many people think that by putting an advertisement for their next concert, for their new book, or whatever their product is up on a Facebook page that they are automatically acessing the huge database of people that frequent the network. Wrong. While there are whole continents worth of people on the network, they have to opt in to receiving any communication from you.

Additionally, there is a set of people who understand that their message only goes out to the people who are connected with them via follows or likes, but they continue to use their social space as a billboard. Wrong again.

There is a time to inform the public of your next product, but that is not the purpose of social media such as twitter or Facebook. Not only is it just plain non-relational and likely to be ignored, it is an inefficient use of a valuable resource: a public place to cultivate a devoted following.

Billboards are not conducive to two way conversations.

Fable: Social Media is an Inbox

An inbox is a storage area. For most of us, what’s in our inbox, whether it be email or snail mail, it is addressed to us. It was meant for us. It is saved for us until we can look at it.

Social media on the other hand, was not meant to be an inbox. There is a reason the main attraction is called a stream on Facebook and Twitter; the information being shared literally flows by us in a constant trickle.

This means that posting once and expecting a result as if it were sent directly to the right people in their email is a false expectation. It is very easy for people to miss what you are posting in all the other information flowing by them.

Your job is to do the research. Take the time to learn when your target audience is online and looking through their streams. What do they find compelling? What will catch their eye?

Yes, you need to post your announcements or advertisements more than once, but not to the point that you are being overwhelming to your followers. There is a fine balance between treating your social spaces as a billboard or an inbox. Both are equally wrong.

Balance and target.

Fairytale: Social Media is Quick and Easy

It’s not true. It’s not quick. It takes time to build a real audience. It takes elbow grease, and it takes time. Real, valuable audiences don’t come in a day.

Quality that comes slowly is better than quantity with no substance. Quality does not come if quality is not being shared by you. It is not possible to automatically be churning out quality content. It takes time, thought, and work. It is not easy.

It is appropriate to make goals and to work to achieve numbers, but the numbers aren’t the most important factor. Social media is about the interaction with other human beings. It’s about the influence you have, and the trust you build with your audience. The numbers come as a result of those things, however, the reverse is not true. These things do not come because you have impressive numbers.

Makebelief: Social Media is Free Advertising

True, it does not cost money to set up a page on Facebook and sign up for a Twitter profile, but becoming a social success is another matter entirely. There are many skills that the average person does not immediately have that are quickly becoming essential to a social business. Skills like:

  • photography
  • coding
  • photoshop and illustrator usage
  • copywriting and editing
  • analytic evaluation and research
  • etc.

Many businesses are now finding it very worth the money to hire someone who knows how to do these things to either teach them how to do it, or do it for them. Either one takes the time to learn how to do everything, or one shells out the dough to get someone who does. It is not free.

This does not take into account the time investment it takes to really do it well. When your time = money, it truly is not free.

Time for a self diagnostic.

Look at your tweet stream, and your facebook wall. Is it conducive to a two way conversation? Is it balanced and targeted? Is the content you are sharing quality content?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. :)

photo credit: ~Brenda-Starr~ via photo pin cc