As you’ve probably aware if you’ve spent any time here on the screed, I take a great interest in how business folks think about social media.
I am one of those people who believe that over time the word “social” will vanish as all media becomes more social and what we classify today as “social” media becomes more mainstream (although I’m not sure how Facebook could become more mainstream when it seems damn near everyone is on it!). How businesses can use social media is one of the areas in which I advise clients and so I took great interest in an info-graphic I came across the other day entitled “How Small Businesses Are Using Social Media (and why they may be getting it wrong). If you click through I think you’ll find some good information on it but you’ll also find four terrible misunderstandings.
In the section labelled “Why Small Businesses Are Using Social Media” there are four points. Each one is, I guess, something that these businesses believe to be true. Unfortunately, they’re not. Take point one: it’s inexpensive. Sure the tools are free but supporting your business on each platform is not free. In fact, to do social well and to cover all the potential social bases (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ for starters) in an active way that will engage your customers requires planning, writing, and responding. It all takes time, and as we all know, time is money.
Point two: it’s easy to use. Another half truth although I’m sure businesses believe it. The tools are not overly complicated but creating great, engaging content is hard, as you can probably tell from the attempts to do so in this space.
Point three: their customers use social media. Yes they do, but as the term “media” indicates they’re in a lot of places doing so. The aforementioned “big” guys are just the tip of the iceberg, and new players emerge and grow every day. Reddit, Vine, and Stumble Upon are just three places where a lot of the customers are but the brands aren’t. Add to that the fact that to gain any sort of visibility with the majority of your customers on the big guys (Facebook and Twitter in particular) requires you to be a paying customer. So much for “free.”
Point four: It doesn’t take a lot of time. Totally wrong unless you add “to do it badly” to the end of that phrase. Supporting multiple platforms with engaging content and responding to consumer interactions takes a lot of time – ask any of the brands that do social media well.
That’s my take – what’s yours?