Banking the success of your startup on social media myths only adds risk to an already risky endeavor. Savvy entrepreneurs understand that social media must play a critical role in their marketing strategies and efforts to build a community of loyal followers (also known as "customers"). But beware the most common myths so you don't waste valuable time and effort in developing the best social media approach for your startup.
Here are six of the most common social media myths to watch for:
Myth 1. Social Media Is Great Because It's Free
Strictly speaking, there's rarely any expenditure involved in using social media to help boost awareness of your brand. But researching the platforms where your target audience "hangs out," developing content to share with that audience, staying current with others in your community, and engaging in online discussions consumes a surprising amount of time and effort. In that sense, social media is anything but "free." If your business is in the early stages where you lack other staff to take control of this effort, be mindful of how much of your limited resources are occupied with this task.
Myth 2. Social Media Offers an Easy Way to Cultivate Awareness and Loyalty
All too often, startup founders believe that simply getting established on a popular social media platform ensures a rapidly growing and enthusiastic network of followers. Don't con yourself into expecting overnight success!
"Loyalty is earned through customer interaction with your people and product," notes Adam Fridan, founder of MeetAdvisors. "Social media is the image of your product and company—not the real thing."
Myth 3. It's Important to Have a Presence On as Many Platforms as Possible
Recognizing the ever-expanding array of social media sites, entrepreneurs sometimes feel they must establish a presence wherever they possibly can. This myth is particularly damaging, since attempting to spread your activities far and wide will likely leave you little time for anything else. Broadly speaking, the vast majority of prospective customers spend their time on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. A vibrant presence on these three sites—perhaps with one more industry-related platform that research says your target audience favors—will be more than enough.
Myth 4. My Chances of Getting Leads Increase with the Amount of Stuff I Post
Generating sales leads by bombarding people on social media is another commonly held misconception. Nothing turns off prospective customers faster than clicking on posts and images that have no meaning or relevance for them. In this area, the guiding principle of social media content-sharing is less is more.
"If you're only posting funny photos and other forms of irrelevant content, users aren't going to visit your actual website," says Sarah Eisenbraun at BIGSHOT Inbound. "As long as you continue to keep your audience engaged and provide them with useful information, your social media campaign will absolutely result in lead generation."
Myth 5. There's No Way to Measure Social Media Activity
Wrong! There's a host of social media and scheduling sites that provide valuable measuring resources. Start with Google Analytics to gauge the social traffic you generate. Other sites like Hootsuite and Sprout Social help measure audience demographics, likes and followers, the number of impressions, etc., to help you refine your social media strategy.
Myth 6. I'm All Set Once My Post or Image Goes Viral
Achieving "viral" status is considered the holy grail of social media, but don't succumb to the notion that this is easy or the key to success. The chances of actually going viral are small ("lottery rare," says Adam Fridan), and contriving to make something go viral makes it even more unlikely. It can also harm your brand's credibility—and without credibility, your enterprise is dead in the water.
Do your basic research. Find out where you can "meet up" with prospects on social media. Provide carefully selected content (both your own and content you come across elsewhere). Following these steps will achieve far more than falling for any of the prevailing myths about social media.