The 10 Myths Of Social Media

Fact Or Fiction?

Companies of all sizes are trying to figure out how to tap into social media for their businesses. At UBM Channel's Best of Breed (BoB) Conference this week, Curtis Hougland, CEO of Attention USA, outlined the common myths around social media and how VARs can take advantage of platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest. Here are the 10 myths.

Myth No. 1: Social Media Does Not Drive Sales

According to Hougland, a study two years ago correlated how well companies do in social media and their stock price and concluded that those in social media perform better. It isn’t the stock price, per se, but rather that social media serves as a platform to listen to customers, and companies that listen to their customers run better businesses. Furthermore, customers on social media are higher-value customers because they are more engaged. And, this phenomenon doesn’t apply just to B2C companies. B2B companies with highly engaged social media participants have engagement rates that are five times higher than B2C, said Hougland.

Myth No. 2: Social Media Is A Technology

Social media is a behavior, as humans have an inherent need to share -- whether it is good or bad. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter simply provide the platforms to share and allow a person to amplify how they share information. "Social media is a behavior, and Facebook and Twitter are the plumbing," said Hougland.

Myth No. 3: The Principle Benefit Of Social Media Is Marketing

Social media can be used for branding and creating buzz, but it is also altering the path to purchase, said Hougland.

While word of mouth has always been the No. 1 reason that people buy, social media allows those links to be brought directly to the customer. As social media tools get more sophisticated, companies will be able to engage and acquire customers at the point of the highest engagement -- when they post a comment that they are very happy or unhappy with a particular product.

Myth No. 4: The Website Is The Center Of The Customer Journey

Hougland says that you can't expect people to come to your website anymore. Rather, your website has to go to them. VARs need to think about how their website takes the customer on a journey and socialize every step of that journey.

Myth No. 5: Social Media Is Not Predictable

In fact, there are predictive models today that can measure brand strength and predict future sales based on what is being said online. What social media provides is a valuable feedback loop for companies. "Many people believe it is solely a marketing tool, but social media is the world’s biggest focus group," Hougland said.

Myth No. 6: Marketing Is More Difficult As A Result Of Social Media

While it is another platform to consider in your marketing efforts, "social media is really, really easy, and a lot of people want to make it hard," said Hougland. There are three questions to consider in your social marketing efforts: Why engage, why this brand and how would someone share it? Social media conversations need to have utility, entertainment, value and reciprocity, said Hougland.

Myth No. 7: Brand Matters More

Hougland argues that social media is largely dilutive of brands. People are sharing the brand and the brand equity by commenting on it. Therefore, a company cannot control a brand like they were able to do in the past. "Your customer owns your brand, not you, and social media made that obvious," said Hougland.

Myth No. 8: Great Creativity Drives Marketing

"The days of Don Draper are over," said Hougland. "You can't lead with creative within the context of how it is consumed and shared as a link." In the future, data is going to have equal footing, said Hougland.

Myth No. 9: Companies Are Ready For This Change

System integration is desperately needed within organizations. There are different silos, and there needs to be more collaboration. Hougland said Intel has done a good job of breaking down the silos and moving social media into all practices of its organization.

Myth No. 10: Social Media Is A Bubble

While it feels a bit like 1999 with the glut of competition and high stock price valuations, said Hougland, the volume of content that is being shared is enormous and will continue to grow.