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The relationship between marketers and social media has blossomed in the past several years. And for good reason: in the past several years, social has cemented itself as one of the most popular and prominent digital channels.
For many companies, that has led to increased investment and the establishment of organization-wide best practices.
But just because social media has matured considerably as a channel doesn't mean that there still aren't plenty of social media myths floating around. When it comes to these myths, here are six marketers should ignore.
Listening is more important than talking
Marketers are often told that if there's one thing they must do well in the world of social media, it's 'listen.' To be sure, it is important to listen to what your customers are saying about you. After all, if you ignore them, chances are you're not going to be able to serve their needs well.
But listening can only get you so far. At some point, the knowledge gained from listening needs to be translated into action that moves the needle. Marketers simply can't remain silent, particularly when their goal is to build brand loyalty, spur more sales, etc. Unfortunately, coming up with the right messages (read: ones that are effective) for social channels usually requires a good deal of skill and effort. In short, it's a lot more difficult than sitting on the sidelines analyzing the last 50 tweets about your company, which may produce warm fuzzies but few tangible gains.
There's no ROI
Social media boosters aren't the only ones who continue to promulgate myths about the medium. Although the social media trend (or fad depending on your position) may not have been as short-lived as the most ardent skeptics believed, social media still has its fair share of critics, many of whom often argue that ROI is MIA. But is this really true?
There can be little doubt that poorly-executed social media initiatives probably aren't delivering the sought-after results. But there are plenty of campaigns that do produce ROI. What marketers must get better at: defining KPIs, measuring them and coming up with sensible, accurate ways to calculate ROI so that decision-makers can make sensible investments in the medium going forward.
Some social media is free
There's no such thing as a free lunch, and that's certainly true in the social media universe. Yes, there may be no charge to set up a profile or account on a popular social network, but building a solid and effective presence will reasonably require a significant amount of time and skill.
The costs of the human labor involved should never be ignored or underestimated, and they should always be included in the aforementioned final ROI equation.
Social media equals earned media
Many marketers are convinced that their Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts are earned media. But is that really the case? To a certain extent, the answer is yes. It's unlikely, for instance, that Facebook will stage a takeover of Coca-Cola's Facebook Page.
But brands hardly "own" their social profiles and as we've seen before, companies like Facebook and Twitter can make changes that serve as powerful reminders that they're really in control of who you can reach and when on their platforms. At the end of the day, those are the things that truly matter.
Social media is the future
Half a decade ago, it was still fair to say that social media was the future. Today, with billions of people around the world interacting with popular social media services every month and companies that help marketers manage their social campaigns being bought for hundreds of millions of dollars, it's more appropriate to say that social media is the present.
That doesn't mean that social is as mature as, say, television, but marketers shouldn't delude themselves into believing that social media is some mysterious, nascent channel for which little is known and anything goes as a result. It may not be ready for the nursing home, but social is most certainly of drinking age.
You can't afford to ignore social media
Social media is, in many markets, a very important channel. But the cries of "you can't afford to ignore social!", which often come from social media gurus trying to close a deal, often obscure an important point: there are probably few channels you want to ignore entirely. From email to video, there are plenty of digital channels, some more mature than others, that have a key role to play in an effective digital marketing strategy.
Put simply, pretending that social is the can't-miss channel is doing a disservice to all the other channels that are delivering results for marketers using them wisely.