My Top 5 Favorite Organizational Social Media Myths

Social Media MythsI have been meaning to write this post for quite some time, but it seems as though every time I make my top 5 list of social media myths, I hear a new one that feels like it should make the list. But rather than keep pushing it off, I have decided to go ahead and publish my top 5 favorite social media myths, but I reserve the right to update the post and expand the list beyond 5 in the future. In fact, if you have an addition to the list, let me know and I’ll consider adding it.

So, without further delay, here are my 5 favorite social media myths (at least right now):

1. It’s Free – Yes, the channels are free. Yes, you can engage in social media with just the employees  and resources that you have at your fingertips right now. But that initial, “free” burst can only be sustained for a short time. As you strive to learn more about your community, you’re going to need to engage a social listening tool beyond just Google Alerts. Tools like Radian6 and Spiral16 can give you great insights on your community and how they interact, but they do cost money. Additionally, you’re going to need long-term headcount to be devoted to your community engagement and interactions. If you decide to continue using existing resources to expand their responsibilities, it’s likely you’re going to have to backfill their responsibilities with more headcount.

In other words…Listening is cheap, engaging requires a bit of investment. The more you engage, the more investment will be required.

Is your organization planning next year's social media budget? Be sure to spend the time allocating budget and resources!

2. It doesn’t take much to start/maintain – This completely depends on what you want to get out of it. If your business is a B2B and you there isn’t much conversation about your brand or competitors in the consumer space online, then  yes…it probably won’t take much to start listening and you probably don’t have a lot of social crisis situations going on. However, the more you put into social media, the more you get out. If you start writing your internal employee policy on the use of social media, you may decrease the risk of an employee “oops”. If you start looking at ways to educate your sales force on the best way to use social media to identify leads and connect with prospects and customers, the sooner you’re going to be able to reap the benefits.

Again…the more you invest, the more you will get out of it.

3. It’s a fad for kids and geeks -Really, if you still think this, you’re probably type on a typewriter and still believe that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. The reality is that social media is a fundamental communication shift that is changing the way we community individually and the way we do business. Over the last couple of years, I have seen corporate executives begin to shift their perceptions from “whether” they should engage in social media to “how” they will engage.

There are still those disbelievers that can’t grasp the concept of an ROI on social media, but luckily these social media ostriches are a dying breed.

4. It’s so easy, our interns can do it – Sure, you can assign your must junior, inexperienced employees to manage your brand. It’s a great strategy for putting your entire brand at risk and find new, unique ways to end up as a social media case study as the company that lost all its customers with a single tweet, or ended up in an FTC investigation for accidentally sharing inside information with the entire blogsphere.

Sure, your interns are likely a younger and claim that they “get” social media, but the reality is that they don’t “get” business, they aren’t versed in the ways to handle internal and external communications, and they certainly don’t know the do’s and don’ts of what information can be shared.

Basically, just because you can put your interns in charge of your social media doesn’t mean you should.

5. There is no ROI in the activities – I mentioned ROI earlier, but this one definitely deserves it’s own conversation. If you don’t think you can develop an ROI on your social media activities, you’ve already lost half the corporate battle. As I mentioned in myth #1, social media engagement is going to require investment and resources. To get the required funding, you’re going to need to demonstrate to your executives that it’s worth taking resources from another project and devoting them to yours. That ROI is going to be unique to your organization, so look for ways to either reduce costs internally or increase sales, donations, or other revenue for your organization. A few good places to start looking for an ROI on social media can be found here, but be your company may offer other unique possibilities.

There you have it…my current 5 favorite social media myths. Have your own? Leave a comment or write an article on your own blog. If you send me a link and I’ll put together a list of great social media myths.

Comments And Reactions

  1. Sean,

    Thanks for including us! Loved your top 5 favorite organizational social media myths. They’re certainly some of the more common ones aren’t they? In fact, Mitch Joel has a great story about #4 “It’s so easy, our interns can do it” and he shared in his keynote at our social 2011. Thanks again for including us and for sharing these 5 myths.

    All the best,
    Trish | Community Manager, Radian6

  2. It’s another sales tool! Gotta increase those touches, ya know. It’s a numbers game, like it always has been so, get out there an Tweet that Facebook off until your akismet falls off!

    Just tell’em how great our stuff is enough times and the’ll buy – they always have!

    Think I’ll go buy me a newspaper. Now, there’s something that’ll never change!

  3. Of course we all know these myths are promulgated by the social media glitterati.

  4. A little over a year and half ago, I was in the job market and I remember running into someone who said number 4. to me. I thought if that is what they think then they are not going to want to here what I think. Of course, I wasn’t hired. But what is interesting, is the person they hired, contacted me to have me train her with my next social media course. I think it is quite interesting, that when the top feels that anyone can do it, you can not change their mind, but when they hire someone who knows nothing, then they search out the person who does know what they need to know. These myths will continue until CEO’s get with it and understand that they need to quit thinking number 4.

  5. Great information. I hear #4 a lot. Afterall, interns are free, right? Wrong. A few unpaid interns in very short order can destroy the best laid social media plans. I love that you included this fallacy. Thanks so much.

  6. Great Post. I am working on one dealing with Social Media ROI with a lot of claims its ROE Return on Engagement (my Finance side says Return on Equity which does related to sweet equity on engagement). A lot of the ROE and not ROI Posings cite the benefits of engagement, being share of voice, Good will, etc. All are activities that should generate a Return on Investment.

  7. You have touched on a lot of very good points that anyone considering getting involved in social media should be aware of.

  8. In terms of marketing and business SoMe is by far the BIGGEST wheel one can start turning.

  9. Rock on!

  10. You make some very salient points! Thanks!

  11. #5 is the issue for us @ixchelha as out; income does not go far enough to add value with qualified and well supported tools. The best we can do is use a tool like
    Great post and good advice.

  12. I have been apalled by the heads of regional marketing companies excitedly telling me social media is free (#1). Seeing their implimentation, I continue to be apalled. SoMe often executed using myth #4. I have probably talked 6-7 out of 10 companies OUT of SoMe – until they are ready to embrace Publishing. SoMe is a much more editorialized version of marketing that they are used to, and they have to be ready for meaningful volume of integrated messaging. SoME is a major event for a company. Even if they were at all doing marketing well, SoMe is a whole, new thing. Thanks for the great list.


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