By: Hillel Fuld
Someone has to seriously put an end to all this insanity. The problem with the Web in general is that everything is black and white. It is either great or terrible. This is true about so many industries. Take for example the mobile space. Every phone that comes out is either an “iPhone Killer” or it is so 2010 and does not belong in a market with the iPhone. Is there no middle ground?
This same problem applies to social media, and the buzz around this new platform is unparalleled and in my opinion, unwarranted (OK, maybe not completely). Before you kill me for saying that, trust me when I tell you, you do not know many people who spend as much time on Twitter as me, or who have seen the potential this new media platform can produce, the way I have.
Whether you are in Sales, Marketing, or just looking to network, social media can be the smartest move you ever made. However, the buzz has got to stop. It is not real and it is not true. Yes, if done right, social media can produce unprecedented results, but a small minority of people really see the full blown results and potential of social media. It needs to be said and you need to know that the evangelists who are spreading the word about social media are almost always misguided and misguiding you and me.
There are so many falsehoods being thrown around when it comes to the social Web, I thought I would address a few of them:
1: Standalone Solution: “Social Media Marketing”, one of the more annoying phrases coined over the last decade, and possibly as annoying as “Social media guru”. That is an accomplishment. Last night I tweeted this after seeing someone’s tweet talking about how amazing social media is. That led me to write this post. Yes, using social media to promote a product is effective, but not without traditional marketing to provide it with very necessary support. Whether we are talking about measuring conversions, traditional press releases, or old school public relations, social media has not eliminated the need for traditional marketing. On the flip side, traditional marketing cannot exist in a vacuum, and in today’s dynamic world, there is no excuse for any company not to have some sort of presence online.
2: Free: Social media in most of its forms, is indeed free. What is not free is the amount of time and effort needed to make your social media efforts produce any real results. Take one of the most famous social media campaigns ever, the Old Spice campaign. The campaign was indeed distributed using free tools such as Twitter and Youtube, but if you think for a second that the content of that campaign was not created by professionals who cost the company a small fortune, you are kidding yourself. Yes, there have been uses of social media that did not cost money directly, but even in those cases, we are generally talking about a lot of time and professionalism on the part of the involved entity, that costs money.
3: Marketing Platform: For the love of God people, stop spamming on Twitter. I am not talking about the type of spammer to sell Viagra, but rather the people who use Twitter and social media to broadcast and promote all day and all night. Zero engagement, zero value, and the direct consequence, zero results. Yes, we have all heard about the big companies using Twitter for sales, but guess what? They actually engage their audience, that is how they increase sales. Today, the person running a company’s social accounts has replaced the representative at a retail store. A company’s face to the world is now their Twitter bio and profile. How would you like it if you walked into a retail store and were immediately attacked by a representative who was screaming in your face “BUY BUY BUY”. Not too much, huh? Well, don’t do it on Twitter either.
4: Immediate Results: If you want immediate sales, an immediate increase in revenue, you can forget about this “magical” solution called social media, it aint gonna happen. This has got to be the largest and most dangerous misconception about social media. It is also probably the one that caused the most people to lose their job. If you are new to social media, I will generalize and say that you cannot expect significant and tangible results for at least six months. If you are a rock star and are truly the exception, maybe you will start seeing results after four months, not before. So next time you call yourself a Social Media Expert after having a Facebook page for 25 seconds that has 12 likes, think twice about what you’re promising, it might backfire on you.
5: Part Time: Remember the 4-6 month time period I mentioned above? That is true when you are dedicating yourself 100% to your social media activity and online presence. You want a 9-5 job? Go be an accountant. If you think you can send 4 tweets a day, Like three pages, and see any type of results, you are sorely mistaken and will quickly learn that the time you wasted on social media, might have been better spent on designing a newspaper ad or writing the content for a TV commercial. You want to use social media to promote and market your company or product? Expect to lose a lot of sleep for the first few months.
6: No ROI: OK, I know what you’re thinking, “This social media thing does not sound like it’s for me and my business, after all, my customers are not even the target audience”. Guess what? You are wrong, very wrong. With very few exceptions, you can increase conversions, create tremendous brand awareness, and even make direct sales using social media. When I started working at inneractive a few months ago, after consulting with some very smart friends, I put together a marketing strategy that can basically be summed up in two words. “Provide value”. I decided I was going to start a company blog and write about the industry, not about the company. Obviously, when there is news about our product, the blog would be a platform to let people know, but 9/10 posts would be about the space and offer true value. Now, five months later, without using the blog to sell, it is selling. The conversions are happening, the revenues increasing, and our customers could not be happier. Feel free to talk to me about it on Twitter. I am @hilzfuld.
Just to summarize, I want to make it very clear that there are not many people out there who believe in the power of social media more than me. But, the thing about social media is that it is no more than a means to an end. It is no better than a car that is helping you arrive at your destination. If used properly, you will get their faster than any bicycle can get you there. If abused, social media can single handedly kill your brand and damage any marketing efforts you have made in the past and even the future. Use it wisely and stop spreading dangerous lies.