Some Social Media Misconceptions

kelly shibari hourglass8 marketing tipsAs a publicist, social media marketing consultant and manager, I run into a few common misconceptions from people who are trying to delve into the world on social media marketing. It’s been a while since I blogged specifically about SMM, so what better to discuss on a Friday than what SMM is (and isn’t)? Perhaps these can get you thinking over the weekend so that you can hit Monday running with some great new ideas.

Social Media Marketing Is Not A Replacement for SEO

SMM does increase your visibility online. As I’ve said before, SMM is about branding and visibility. However, it doesn’t necessarily directly mean that search engines are going to recognize you and increase your ranking just because you have more followers on Twitter, or have more fans on Facebook. You MUST keep your SEO strategies in place and tweak and retweak them as often as you do your SMM plan. Without it, you may have a great following on social networking sites, but you won’t see the ranking that you’d like to see – and that translates into the bottom line.

But SEO isn’t the end all and be all, either. The two have to work together – just because you have a site that ranks high on Google, if you’re not listening to your customers and regularly bettering your product, you’ll have a company that may get great initial business, but no loyal long-term following. And we all know how much easier it is to work with repeat clients. Getting them to notice you is hard. Getting them to walk in the door is even harder. But keeping them coming back – that’s probably the hardest of all. Make sure that your SEO and SMM strategies are working hand-in-hand so that you end up with a group of loyal customers that spread the word about your company and your product, and keep coming back to you again and again.

Social Media Marketing Is Not A Replacement for Traditional Marketing

Just because every newspaper, magazine, and news source is telling you that social media marketing is the wave of the future, or the wave of “now,” it doesn’t mean you should abandon traditional marketing avenues. People still watch television, read magazines and newspapers, and drive cars. Hard-copy advertising still has its merits, especially when social networking sites have becoming inundated with spam. People rarely click links in their Twitter DMs any more for fear that clicking on a link will give them a virus. Facebook, MySpace, etc also have their glitches. Getting rid of interruption marketing was initially the point of social media marketing – but until changes are made and communication flow fine-tuned, social networks are going to turn into yet another place of interruption.

If that is truly the case (and I believe it to be so for the moment), then traditional marketing still has some viable worth in our economy. Don’t abandon it completely and think that a SMM plan will replace any other strategies you had in place. It won’t. It’s why I do traditional PR work in addition to SMM, and why the company name is ThePRSMGroup.

Social Media Marketing Is Not A Fair-Weather Friend

Every now and then I run into a person who thinks that SMM is something they can start one day and start seeing results the next. It’s hard to explain to someone who sees the online successes of others and thinks that it happened overnight. Much like pop stars and actors who are touted as “overnight sensations,” online marketing takes time. Due diligence, tweaking strategies, and finessing your product eventually lead to success. Becoming discouraged because your first attempt online didn’t work in a week is a recipe for depression and failure. You HAVE to figure out what can be retooled, reworked and made better, and keep at it.

SMM is also not something you can ignore. You can’t start a SMM plan one day, work on it for a month, and walk away from it. Once you’ve started, you MUST work on maintaining momentum so that your customers know that they are being heard. It’s not just about putting a few ads on a few social networks – that’s simply a waste of time. It’s something, much like personal relationships, that must be worked on on a daily basis, or whatever pace you are comfortable with. Just know that once every 6 months is NOT a good pace – and much like a personal relationship, you get out what you put into it.

On The Other Hand, Social Media Shouldn’t Take All Your Time

This is the chief complaint of most people I talk to, next to finances when it comes to marketing plans. Remember the mantra, “Everything in moderation”? You SHOULDN’T be online 20 hours a day. You SHOULD have a life – get out and see what the world outside of your office looks like! The world changes on a regular basis, and so do your customers’ needs. Knowing what they are will make you a better company. And as much news as you might think you get online, nothing beats actually going out and seeing it for yourself.

So monitor how much time you are spending online. Use an egg-timer if need be. Allocate a certain number of minutes or hours a day to social media, SEO, advertising, and research & development. Then allocate a certain number of hours a day to going outside. Call it field research if you must, but get out there. It’ll do wonders for your emotional well-being as well as your business.

Remember – social media is branding. It’s visibility. It’s a connection to your customers. Don’t forget that, and work it into a bigger plan that includes SEO, traditional advertising, and field research, and you’ll find that your business will be doing better in no time.

What are you doing to stay visible to potential customers outside of social media?