7 Common Misconceptions that Business Owners have about Social Media

Marketing, Mobile Computing, Social Networking

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It’s human nature to be skeptical of newfangled gadgets. Even for a technophile like me, I’ve been slow to adopt some things I can’t see a use for. I was cellphone-less until the late 90s, when my brother, frustrated he couldn’t reach me when I was out, finally bought me a Nokia 5110 for Christmas. I quickly came to rely on it, but kept that same old phone for 5 years because I didn’t see a need to upgrade. I used to actively resist the newfangled phones that had cameras built in. “All I need to do is sometimes make a phone call,” I used to say. (Now I have a Blackberry, and I can’t even understand the logic of anyone NOT using a smart phone.)

I only realized the point of texting about 4 years ago, when that same frustrated brother, along with my teenage kids, finally made me see the light. “Ooooh… so it’s for shorter info that doesn’t merit a phone call, and it’s more immediate than an e-mail!” A bulb went on.

Same thing with Twitter, and then most recently, Facebook. “Why does anyone need to talk to anyone on Twitter or Facebook?” I used to say until very recently. “We already have e-mail, and cell phones, and websites, and text messaging!”

So I understand where people are coming from when they have reservations about getting involved in something outside their realm of experience. I’ve put together this list of common myths that I’ll use as talking points at my meeting, and thought I’d share them with you:

Myth #1: “My clients aren’t using Facebook.”

Facebook is the most popular site in the world right now, with over 400 million users (over 103 million in the U.S.). It now gets more daily traffic than Google. If your clients use a computer, an iPhone or a Blackberry, the likelihood is that they are already active on Facebook, or they soon will be.

And even if your clients aren’t registered on Facebook yet, they can still view your company fan page without registering.

Myth #2: “Facebook is a big waste of time. All people do is play Farmville and talk about what they had for lunch.”

Social media can be a waste of time if you choose to waste time on them. Or, it can be a valuable marketing, PR, and customer service tool. How you use it is totally up to you. Most businesses, including your clients’ businesses, don’t think it’s a waste of time, or they wouldn’t be using it (see above).

Myth #3: “Facebook is for kids and techies, not for older audiences.”

The 35+ demographic now represents more than 30% of the entire user base.
The 55+ audience grew a whopping 922.7% in 2009.


Myth #4: “We are already reaching our audience through press releases, print ads, and events. We don’t need Facebook.”

Print media is no longer king. The best–and by far the least expensive– way to reach your audience is through Facebook. If you’re already spending marketing time and dollars elsewhere, then there is no excuse not to do the same on Facebook, as it costs a fraction as much, reaches very specific target audiences that you can choose, is easy to track, and is easy to experiment with.

Myth #5:“We don’t have time to manage a Facebook page.”

It takes very little time to have a Facebook presence. Articles from your website are currently posted automatically to Facebook, and you can enter updates or respond to comments in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

If your site becomes so active that you can’t manage it yourself, you can always get someone to help. You can assign as many administrators as you like to your Facebook page. (Should your Facebook page become very active with customers and potential customers trying to engage with you, isn’t that a good problem to have, and the whole point of being in business in the first place?)

Myth #6: “I don’t want to use social media because someone might say something negative about my business, and destroy my reputation.”

If social media were such a dangerous threat to businesses, would so many businesses be using it?  Only you can destroy your reputation, through bad products or bad customer service. Social media merely reflects what’s already there. If you’re doing something poorly, people are probably already criticizing you on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs. And you would definitely know about it already, through customer service complaints or reduced sales.

When used properly, social media will actually enhance your reputation. Facebook gives you your own self-monitored space to address any valid criticisms in the manner in which you choose: either respond, ignore, or delete. (See the Air Force Blog Assessment’s flowchart for how to handle comments). When customers see good customer service in action, it always reflects well on you.

Myth #7: “Social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is only a fad.”

Social media sites are no more a “fad” than the telephone, the fax machine, the Internet, or cell phones were fads. It’s the latest communication tool. Social media will continue to exist as long as human beings feel a need to communicate with each other. Twitter and Facebook could very well morph into something else, but people will always find a way to use whatever technology is at their disposal to connect with each other. And forward-thinking business owners will recognize that phenomenon, and go where their clients are.

In short, the explosion of social media as the latest communication tool has opened up a world of opportunity for savvy business owners. To shun the most popular meeting ground on the web as irrelevant will only make your business irrelevant.

6 Responses to “7 Common Misconceptions that Business Owners have about Social Media”

  1. Dawn Westerberg Says:

    Great summary. I too was a late 90s adopter of the cell phone – I used it as a “tracker” for my teenaged son.

    I love the accellerated networking aspect of social media. There aren’t enough hours in the day for just priority emails and phone calls – Facebook and Twitter provide a great way to touch base in short but timely way.

  2. Amy Says:

    You’re right, Dawn. It’s interesting how Facebook in particular has supplanted e-mail for many types of conversations. My client is particularly concerned about opening a Pandora’s Box by becoming active on social media. They are afraid they won’t know what to say, or that visitors may use it as a forum to complain. Here was an excerpt of my response:

    “Bad reviews, whether it happens on Facebook, on someone’s blog, on Yelp, on Twitter, through e-mail, in a newspaper, or even in person, can be very damaging. If someone has a complaint, they already have dozens of very public ways to complain to the world about it. And if the complaint is real (not just a troll looking stir the pot), and steps aren’t taken to remedy the both the immediate customer service problem and the underlying cause of the problem, then that can indeed lead to a loss of business.

    By mantaining an active Facebook presence, you’re actually REDUCING your risk of negative PR. You’ll never be able to block people’s ability to complain wherever they please, or even keep track of where a complaint might be taking place, but you can create a venue for customers to complain directly to you on your Facebook page. If a complaint happens on your own turf where you can deal with it and control the management and visibility of it, then you have the ability to publicly turn an unhappy customer into a happy one, and create a lot of good PR for yourself in the process.

    It’s actually riskier to ignore social media than to participate in it.”

    We’ll see… I feel very much in the same situation as I did in 1992, trying to convince clients why they needed a website and e-mail!

    I think the key to business owner’s adoption of social media is getting them to see social media as a logical extension of their existing marketing, customer service and PR efforts, not as some complicated and frightening new bag of worms.

  3. Michelle Golden Says:

    An excellent post, Amy! Particularly loves this quote: “Social media merely reflects what’s already there.” Well done!

  4. Amy Says:

    Thanks, Michelle!

  5. Leslie Bass Says:

    With regard to FB and marketing, yours is about the only reason I can think of using it for business, i.e. hedging complaints. Lots of young people use it as a life line for everything.

    Mostly I find people spewing out notices of their very boring life as if we are interested as to what and where they ate every meal. Better yet, what they are cooking tonight. Love it when they share pics of their half-eaten plate of food. Gourmet mag they are not.

    Sometimes I even get announcements of naps, grocery store forays, headaches…etc. Such fun. Can’t figure out the reason for these posts. They can’t actually think people are that interested in their every thought? Or maybe they do!


  6. Amy Says:

    I agree about the blather that populates most personal blogs, facebook and twitter streams. Most of the chatter is dull, just as most of the chatter in real life is dull.

    But I see social media as an AWESOME business tool, and much more than just a forum to hedge complaints. It’s also a way to grow and develop your business from listening to what your clients like and don’t like. It’s a way of cementing loyalties.

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