Since I teach social media strategy, marketing, and monetization, I’m always being asked by my students and colleagues how they can use social media to improve their business, career, and in general, their lives! While social media is incredibly powerful, there are also many myths about social media that need to be addressed.
So, in this post (which is a summary of my presentation from the Digital Strategy Conference), I will challenge you be much more critical of social media and I will highlight what social media is not telling you!
Social media is NOT a reflection of all your customers
As the Pareto principle tells us, a large part of the social media activity you see may only translate to a small percentage of your entire customer base. If you’re interested in a more detailed study on this pattern, I recommend you to read this Vision Critical study.
Key takeaway: Be careful about extrapolating behaviours from your most active social media customers to your entire customer base.
Sharing happens on many channels outside of social media networks
You need to understand that a great deal of sharing happens via the “Dark Social”, which are communication channels such as in-person conversations, text messages, phone, and email. Unfortunately, many of your analytics tools are not capturing these activities.
Key takeway: Your “most shared” content isn’t necessarily what you see within the “Light Social Networks”, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Having big data sets is not enough! You also need knowledgable analysts
Google is one of the best examples of a “big data” set that most of us use daily! That said, spammers and content owners are always looking for ways to game the system. The #1 result in a Google search is not always the result or answer we seek. Also, within Big Data, there may be bias, i.e. an echo chamber with lots of people talking to similar people.So, if you’re leaving your final social media analysis to a computer or algorithm or just taking the first “result”, you may not be getting the appropriate answer, result, or trend you seek. Definitely use automated tools to narrow down your options. But, finding meaning in these options requires extensive understanding, interpretation, and analysis of numerous variables.
Key takeaway: Humans are still best at turning information into actionable wisdom and knowledge.
If you cannot put a value ($) on your social media results – stop investing in monitoring and measuring them!
This is perhaps my greatest “pet peeve”. If you are monitoring likes, shares, follows, downloads, etc. and cannot tell me how these activities are concretely adding value to your organization, then you should stop. While many social media metrics are easy to measure, it is your responsibility to be able to translate those results into tangible value for your organization. If you cannot do this, I recommend taking some time to better understand your customer and sales journey, as well as how to calculate social media ROI! (Fortunately, for you, UBC offers a class in exactly this!)
Key takeway: Everything you do and get via social media needs to add concrete value to your organization!
As I said above, social media is an amazing communication channel and has truly opened up the lines of communication between organizations and their communities. However, as with any communication or marketing channel, it is only one of many. Depending on your customers and audience, social media may or may not have the information you need to grow and exceed your organizational goals and objectives. Use it critically and responsibly!