10 Lies that Social Media consultants Tell – And why they are not true!

What’s Next Blog (http:// www.whatsnextblog.com/archives/2009/10/10_things_social_media_cant_do.asp) posted a few unrealistic things that social media consultants are telling clients.

Substitute for marketing strategy

You can’t substitute social media for a marketing strategy. You still need to have an comprehensive marketing plan that is more then just social media. Social media can be a part of it but shouldn’t be your only strategy.

Succeed without top management buy-in

Like all plans, everyone in the organization needs to be informed and committed to the plan. Avoiding top management buy-in can cause long term problems for you.

Be viewed as a short-term project

Social media is not a short term project, it takes time to build a loyal base and keep them interested. Sure you could follow 5,000 people on twitter and try to gain as many fans on Facebook as possible, but building a fan base rapidly doesn’t equal good social capital. Social capital is the quality of people following you and the influence you have over them. Can you get them to buy a good or service? Do they interact and listen to what you say? Are you listening to them?

Produce meaningful, measurable results quickly

Again, social media isn’t a quick fix, at least effective social media isn’t. Think of the bell curve; it starts off slow, then builds momentum and in time you’re in the race. Get in and listen – build a relationship with people. It’s like meeting someone new, you wouldn’t ask them a hundred questions right up front. You listen and let the conversation flow. If you’re too pushy it’s going to turn people off.

Be done in-house by the vast majority of companies

This depends on the company. Typically, if done in-house there is resource assigned specifically to engage a social media plan or on the flip side it’s piled on top of someone else’s busy day. If you want to get in social media, an agency or consultant can be contracted to provide a transparent and seamless experience for your base.

Provide a quick fix to the bottom line or a tarnished reputation

Both of these are WRONG. If you are looking to make quick sales then social media is not for you. It’s a resource-intensive, on-going process. You can build a base of very loyal and moreover brand loyal consumers if the plan is implemented and maintained. As for a tarnished reputation, past issue’s should be addressed by a professional PR agency specializing in crisis management. Social media is not the cure to a reputation crisis. In fact you risk saying something that could make the situation worse. So, you may have to bite the bullet and pay the money to an expert.

Be done without a realistic budget

Like anything in business you need realistic budget. Granted, social media doesn’t cost a lot of money  but managing the plan does. Most consultants aren’t cheap but the return on investment could far outweigh their fee’s.

Guarantee sales or influence

Entry into the world of social media guarantees you nothing. Again, it takes time to build a reputation. Achieving new sales and influence is entirely possible, but manage your expectations – it’s not going to happen on day 1. First and foremost, it’s al about building that social capital.

Be done by “kids” who “understand social media innately”

Hiring “kids” to manage your social media could be your biggest mistake; they haven’t been in the business long enough to be socially savvy. There are many seasoned professionals who know traditional and social marketing. Those professional may offer better bang for the buck since their experience can tie your social media strategy to your on-going campaigns.

Replace PR

Although this is a form of PR, replacing traditional PR is wishful thinking. Traditional PR is still alive and well. It’s changing, and social media is definitely a part of it, but it’s not wise to replace your other PR channels with social media along. Social media isn’t designed to address real PR like: crisis management, press releases and conferences and reputation management. A trained PR professional is definitely a good investment.

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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