Social Media Marketing Myths

14 09 2009

I just came across a Business Week article by Gene Marks that suggests that Social Media Marketing is not living up to the hype, particularly for small businesses.  This article lists several “myths” about the use of Facebook, Titter and MySpace for keeping in touch with customers.

The article raises some interesting points that are very relevant to Enterprise B2B marketing as well.  Here are the “myths” from the article with a quick summary and my recommendations.

Myth 1: Social Media Sites Are Fee.

Article Finding:  While social media sites themselves are free, it takes an investment in time to keep up a meaningful presence on them.

My Recommendations:

  • Have clear, written, objectives.  What do you want out of your engagement with your customer community?  If you don’t have clear goals and objectives you have the makings of a time sinkhole.
  • Have a budget.  In this case, budget person-hours to the task and monitor the effectiveness of the investment versus the results.  Is it worth your effort?  Do you need to invest more?
  • Know how your are going to measure results.   …And measure them like for any other marketing effort.

Myth 2: Social Media Sites Are a Great Place to Find New Customers

Article Finding: The vast majority of the people on Twitter and Facebook are not interested in your products.

My Recommendations:

  • Find out where your target customers spend their time online and what information sources they trust to make decisions.  Target your budget and effort there, not on the glitzy site that is in the news every day.
  • Use the broader reach of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to reach out to customers and invite them to events and sites with more detailed information.
  • Monitor Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. to truly listen to your customers.  There are many tools available today to help you monitor the feedback from social medial.  This a chance to truly get feedback from your customers:
    • Listen for product feedback and issues
    • Listen for competitive moves
    • Listen for market trends and changes
  • See blog “Ten Reasons B2B Enterprises Should Embrace Social Media Now”

Myth 3: You Need to be on All the Big Sites

Article Finding:  Most business owners do better by focusing on a few, relevant sites.

My Recommendation:

  • I agree with the author here.  Pick the sites that matter most and budget accordingly.
  • It is far more valuable to have a deep presence on a few sites than a shallow presence across many sites.

Myth 4: Social Networking Sites are for Marketing

Article Finding: Social sites are not for marketing.  They are for customer service.

My Recommendations:

  • Social Networking Sites can also be for marketing, but not the old-fashioned marketing where the marketeers interrupt what the user is doing to ram a message down their throat.  Social media is enabling a new type of marketing where messages are presented in the form of useful information that the user actually wants to hear.
  • More on marketing. We have been talking about “listening to customers” since the dawn of marketing.  How many companies actually shut up and listen to their customers?  Social media provides a very economic way to do just that – which is at the heart of true marketing.
  • Social Networking Sites can vastly improve customer service as well.

Myth 5: Social Networking is the Future

Article Finding: The article suggests that some of these sites may not be around for the long haul. He lists some statistics around declining participation in some as proof.

My Recommendations:

  • Believe that Social Networking is a fad at your extreme peril.  Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace may succeed or fail, but social networking is here to stay.  Why?  Because it fills a critical human need to communicate.
  • Keep Social Networking at the core of your marketing strategy.  Studies have shown that the #1 most trusted source of information for B2B buying decisions is the word of industry peers. Social networking makes that type of engagement much easier, leaving customers less reliant on traditional magazines, papers, and industry analysts.
  • See blog “What Sources Do IT Execs Trust?”
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