Welcome to our new series “Busted! Top 10 Myths About Social Media for Business,” where we debunk many of the myths out there surrounding social media as an effective business tool. Inspired by many objections I’ve heard (and overheard) from real business owners, I developed this series to help you separate the fact from the fiction in this still-uncharted territory. Stay tuned for more myth busting every Monday and Wednesday ’til the list runs out!
In our last post, we debunked Myth #6 about social media for business—”It’s just for the big brands”—by pointing out some features of small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that make them ideally suited them for success in the social realm. Now let’s take a look at whether your customers even want to hear from you when they turn to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
Many businesses shy away from engaging with their audience via online communities on the belief that social media is no place for business. Consumers, they believe, turn to social networks to be just that: social. It’s a place to share baby pictures, hilarious videos of cats playing piano, good news about promotions, and, for the lamer among us, what kind of bagel I’m eating for breakfast. (Pumpernickel. Toasted. With lite veggie schmear.)
It is not, many are convinced, a place where people want to be “messaged to” by, heavens forbid, a vendor looking whose ultimate goal is selling products or services.
DEBUNKED! While this may have been true in the early days of social media, interactions with favorite brands are now as much a part of social networking as they are a part of email communications.
One of the nice things about being “of a certain age” in this line of work is that I can vividly remember the conversations that arose when e-mail first came out—and see the similarities in many of today’s back-and-forths about social media. “I use e-mail to communicate with my friends and family,” many protested in the early days of the Internet. “Why on earth would I give my email address to some company so they can try to sell me stuff?”
Fast-forward 20-or-so years, and e-mail marketing is a multi-billion-dollar business. Check your inbox and you’ll find much more than your friends and family waiting for you there: a new post from that blog you subscribed to, a webinar invitation from that speaker whose book you just bought, a coupon from PetSmart for grooming supplies. And that’s actually become the norm.
A similar shift has taken place in online communities such as Facebook and Twitter, where people are just as likely to interact with brands as with friends and family—provided the brand continues to provide value in the form of information, connection, or entertainment.
My point is that yes, social media is personal … and for those businesses who know its secrets, that’s a good thing.
And speaking of secrets, let’s take a look at Secret. Yes, it’s a deodorant … which, looking at the brand’s social presence, is sometimes easy to forget. Especially when you look at their recent Facebook posts, which have focused on rallying support for swimmer Diana Nyad in her mission to swim from Cuba to Florida. Along the way, Secret has managed to garner over 1.2 million fans and can boast a robust interaction rate among those who make up its community.
So, what about your organization—have you pushed through the “strictly personal” myth to build a healthy engagement with your audience in social media? Tell us about it in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!