Social Media: Over-Hyped Fad Or Emerging Trend For Success?

Social media is here to stay. And with billions of people using it every day, you’ve never had a better opportunity to reach an enormous audience on a small budget.

However, don’t believe everything you hear. There are many myths regarding social media advertising, which we’ll dispel in a second, but first let’s take a look at the opportunities for small businesses.

Social Media: A Two-Way Street

Apart from unlimited exposure, social media also allows you the opportunity to build a loyal following and grow your brand.

In the past, businesses communicated very differently with the public. Brand owners had the ability to carefully control and monitor the brand identity through scripts for salespeople and carefully selected wording and images for adverts and posters.

Communication went in one direction, but now with social media all that has changed. Consumers no longer accept being “talked to”, they’re now joining in the conversation and allowing their voice to be heard.

Related: Get Bang For Your Social Media Buck

This is scary because now they have the upper hand, and it means businesses can’t control things.

However, if you can find a way to fit into this online conversation, it can quickly be turned into online currency. Lots of brands on Facebook for example experience immense popularity and followings, including Honda and Pringles, by diving into the dialogue.

Discover Your Softer Side. The ‘Hard Sell’ Doesn’t Work Here.

The biggest shift you need to make is learning that social media is not another place for a hard-sell.

Blatant self-promotion doesn’t go well on social media, and the brands that make it on Twitter, Facebook and the like are the brands that use humour, vulnerability, entertainment, and personal touches. They comment and offer advice instead of making aggressive sales pitches.

Social media is the place to lighten up and get in touch with your softer side.

Social Media Myth-Busting 101

New kids on the block seem to have picked up the idea that businesses need to conquer every social media service available.

What they don’t realise is that managing social media accounts takes time and energy, so unless you’re prepared to hire a full-time social media manager, this is not a great strategy.

Other businesses sign up for every service available, only to seldom update them. Again, this is an example of spreading yourself too thin and doesn’t help create engagement with your brand, which should be your prime social media goal.

Instead, limit yourself to three social networks and update them regularly. If you're a very small business, it may be prudent to have less than three. You might even choose to focus on one big one, like Facebook, exclusively.

Related: Driving Online Sales With Social Signals

Another social media faux pas is providing super-long written posts and video content. People’s time is valuable and few people are going to sit down to read your 5 page manifesto or watch an hour-long video.

Short and snappy is best. Fifteen second Instagram videos can be a big hit, as can YouTube videos of 3-4 minutes.

Video app Vine is an up-and-comer in the space too, where you create six-second videos. Popular companies like Harvey’s and Samsung are already having great success with it.

As social media grows, companies like Facebook are seeing the potential to make a lot of money through selling advertising space. However this is often quite expensive, and if you are using social media wisely you shouldn’t need to pay to create engagement.

Instead, do some market research, find out your target demographic and create content and updates that will appeal to that niche. Good content will beat advertising every day.

So Where Does That Leave You?

Although social media can be a useful marketing tool, if it’s not approached in the right way, it’ll end up as a big distraction. This makes it crucial to keep it simple, stupid, and avoid the hard-selling tactics.

Armed with a common sense approach, you’d be wise to get on board, because social media is here to stay.

More From Luke Chaffey: Get Moving With Online Advertising

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