A mythbuster’s guide to social media

It’s pretty common for small businesses to question why they should be on social media. Many can’t understand how it can truly benefit their business and impact their bottom line. But with 65% of Australians using social media – and almost half of them using it everyday – this communication channel shouldn’t be ignored.

To help businesses decide if social media is right for them, it’s time to bust three of its biggest myths.

Myth #1: If you can’t measure ROI, it’s not worth doing.

In the words of Scott Monty, Ford’s global digital/multimedia communications manager:

“What’s the ROI of a TV commercial? What’s the ROI of a press release? What’s the ROI of putting your pants on every day? It’s hard to measure but there are negative consequences for not doing it.”

Whether you like it or not, chances are you’re already on social media.

It’s likely that at least some of your customers are already talking about you, your business and your competitors on social networks. So it’s important to be part of this conversation – to hear what customers have to say about you and to answer their questions. Social media lets you build a community around your brand, and make it likable.

Although measuring ROI can be tricky, you can certainly estimate the effectiveness of your efforts. One way to gauge the impact of your social media presence is by measuring how large and active the community on your page is. Now consider that these are all existing or potential customers who have chosen to talk to you via social media. Every time they comment, share your content or ask you a question they’re pushing your brand name out to their friends and followers. Surely that’s of value to any business.

Sales come from social media the same way they come from word of mouth and it takes time. The bottom line is people prefer to buy from people they like, and a social presence gives you the chance to make your company relatable and likeable.

Another way to look at the effectiveness of this channel is to think about what you’re really paying for. Social media is not just a lead generating tool or advert. It provides so much more. In fact, your social media pages give you a means to:

  • attract product reviews
  • collect testimonials
  • provide one-to-one customer service
  • provide real time updates on new products or services
  • gain and field email feedback
  • shift negative brand perception
  • find out who your customers really are and what they think of you
  • find new target markets
  • identify where your next bricks and mortar store should be
  • identify which products your customers want to buy
  • check on your competition
  • communicate directly with your customers in an ongoing two way conversation.

What other channel lets you do all of this?

Myth #2: Success depends on ‘likes’

Not necessarily.

A great example of social media success – without a shedload of likes – is TasIVF. This niche service started their Facebook page in July 2012. They now have a modest 1,379 ‘likes’ and just 288 followers on Twitter.

You could be forgiven for thinking this isn’t very impressive, but before we judge, let’s take a look at their results.

Since adopting social media:

  • the number of IVF procedures performed by TasIVF has increased 13.75%, and
  • the number of new patients has increased by 8.25%.

On their own, these results are impressive, but when you consider the cost of just one procedure, it’s clear that this has been a hugely successful strategy for TasIVF.

For a very emotional, highly engaging and information-rich service like IVF, likes and followers aren’t necessarily the best measure of success.

According to TasIVF, a key benefit of their social media is the creation of a positive environment, where mothers and mothers-to-be can share their experiences with others in the same situation. Their pages have formed a true community that have helped women get through a stressful time. It has also helped women who are on the brink of deciding whether to undergo IVF to take the final steps, knowing there’s a strong community to support them.

Myth #3: My customers aren’t on social media

These days, almost everyone is using some form of social media. There are over one billion active users on Facebook, almost two million on Twitter and let’s not forget the dozens of other social sites that are used every day. Every time someone reviews products and services, shares pictures of their entrée or rates a hotel, they’re using social media.

Your social media pages work as another shop front to put your brand in front of customers. When used for business, it works quite differently to social that’s used for fun – the aim is to get your followers to interact with your content so they push it out to their network and create online word of mouth. Let’s think about it another way.

Imagine hosting a VIP event where 100 of your best customers each invited 3 of their friends who invited 3 of their friends and so on. You’ve made the effort to invite 100 people and hey presto, you’ve wound up with 900 current and potential customers in a single room talking to each other about your products and services.

How much would that be worth to you?

This is what social media can do.


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