Friday, May 1, 2009

Social Media Marketing Myths

My first semester teaching social media marketing is drawing to a close. I hope my students at Harvard Extension School have learned a lot. I know I have, both about social media itself and how to teach it. This week I took the opportunity to summarize what I’ve learned—see the entire slideshow at the end of the post.

The myths I’ve been collecting all semester long sum up a lot of it. Here they are—agreement and disagreement encouraged. These are the myths:

1. It’s easy. It’s not easy to understand what the social platforms can do, especially when platforms and apps are changing on a daily basis. It’s even harder to understand how social media can fit into marketing strategy.
2. It’s free. True, a lot of the platforms are free. Executing them well, however, is a labor-intensive process that has to be factored into the equation.
3. It’s about technology. Of course it’s not. It’s about people and their behaviors, their likes and dislikes, and especially about their desire to communicate with people they like and/or respect about topics of mutual interest.
4. Social media reaches mass audiences. Sure it does. But if marketers wanted to reach mass audiences, they could use network TV (if they could afford it). Part of strategy (see #1) is segmentation and targeting.
5. Marketers can talk about their products. See #3. People aren’t on social networks to talk to marketers about their products, unless marketers given them a good (beneficial) reason to do so. People are on social networks to talk about things they care about.
6. All Internet users will participate. Don’t we wish! See the 90-¬9-1 rule. And, as you do, think segmentation again.
7. Management will understand the potential. Let me ask you a question. Does the person who approves your budget have a Facebook page? Does that person Twitter? If the answer to even one of those is “yes,” good luck with your social media marketing campaign. If the answer to both is “no,” good luck convincing that person to approve a social media campaign!
8. We’ll see results right away. Boone Pickens built an active community quickly—with at least $58 million of his own money! Even the large corporations (think Johnson's®, Ford) who are using social media effectively don’t seem to be budgeting huge amounts for it. If they did, it would become a big traditional advertising program. Boone Pickens made that succeed because it was for a cause. Corporations have to be careful about making it look like “just another advertising campaign.” They are better off to plant the seeds and let the program grow--organically, if you will.
9.We’ll put it up and it will take care of itself. See #2. It takes careful planning, executing and monitoring. All of that takes effort; some of it takes serious marketing expertise.

If you have another one, we could make this a top ten list!

Take a look at the slideshow and see if that helps you identify something I’ve missed!


BalloonBoy said...

Hey Dr. Roberts,
I assigned someone last summer, when I thought your class might be available online, to go full force on Digg in an attempt to find if this could help our business. We are a B2B company and have a great online search presence from a lot of "free" SEO.
We invested 2-3 hours a day for 4 weeks and it was pretty much, no, it was a total waste except to find that this was not for us.
If you want to get on the front page of Digg, Stumbleupon or others go to RentACoder or some similar site and hire 10 people to each set up 2-3 accounts, using proxies, post for a week then drop your masterpiece and have them promote it.
We measure every bit of traffic we receive at over 1000 sites and the social media sites have contributed zero in traffic that converts to a real lead or sale.
It's not only the old guys here. We have educated young ladies, who you would think demographically this would have appeal, but they find it a waste also.
FaceBook brought in very sub-par traffic.
We've tried Twitter and I can see if you have something "cool" and you could get it to go viral maybe you have a creative outlet. I like Twitter for the unusual "breaking news" that sometimes tweets.
We keep trying but can't see a fit for our business. We do use some linking from social sites even if they don't carry link juice.
I put blogs in a totally different area. I find many blogs informative and we use them extensively in our SEO/SEM.
I hope they allow you to offer this class online soon!
Are you teaching anywhere this summer?
Best wishes,

MaryLou Roberts said...

Hey, Johnny--nice to hear from you. I think you proved my point--it's not easy! It also may be that you have a target audience that's the 90% and the question is could your efforts be helping branding but not bringing in leads. Keep me posted!
Possible the course could be on line next spring--HE hasn't decided yet.