Everywhere you turn theses days there are tales and rumours about the social media and social networking. Some see it as a force for good, particularly in a business sense, whilst others see it simply as a plague and the source of all that’s wrong with society today. You need look no further than the recent riots in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Many critics blame social networking and claim that without it these unpopular disturbances would not have occurred. It seems churlish to point out the obvious, but it was people who caused the damage, not the Facebook and Twitter: granted social networking played its part in spreading the word, but it wasn’t the instigator of the trouble itself.
It doesn’t really matter what your viewpoint on the matter may be, the debate will no doubt rumble on for a good while yet. What it does highlight, however, is just how many myths and misconceptions surround this new social interloper. Is it a good thing, or is it a force for evil? Well, we’ll have a look at the scale and impact of social networking in the next few articles and try to debunk some of these popular urban myths and misconceptions. It’s then up to you to decide whether it’s a good or a bad thing.
We’re all engaged with the social media
That’s probably the biggest misconception of all, and if you believe all you read, then you’d be forgiven for thinking it is true. The fact is not everyone has signed up yet, and there remain a considerable number of sceptics. It’s often driven by industry experts who’ll try to convince you that in excess of 80% of people only got to know about a product because of Facebook or Twitter. The truth is that’s disingenuous. Yes, it’s certainly becoming incredibly popular, but it alone isn’t responsible for driving online business.
Many businesses target a specific demographic. If this sector isn’t on the social media radar, then it needs to be targeted differently. So what do you need to do as a business owner if you’re faced with this particular situation? The answer is to harness the full power of the internet and make your business website easier for Google and the other search engines to find. That means you’ll need to use SEO techniques like relevant keyword optimisation and back-linking to maximise the pulling power of your website. SEO might not be quite as flashy as social networking, but it can be very effective in driving traffic to your website. It won’t produce instant results, but what it does produce will be sustainable.
Only Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are prospering – the rest are floundering
Just because you only ever read about Twitter and Facebook in the news doesn’t mean there aren’t other vibrant social networks available. The likes of Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit are valuable social aggregation platforms, and are useful for stirring the viral distribution of content. Much of the most-shared content on the most popular social networking channels began its life on these smaller aggregation platforms. According to StatCounter, a web analytics provider, Stumbleupon is the social media site that drives most U.S. online traffic. Once again, don’t believe all you hear.
Social networking is only effective if carried out by experts
Any social media consultant will obviously peddle that myth. If everybody knew that it isn’t really rocket science, and that we could all have a dabble at it, then there wouldn’t be a need for social media consultants, would there? You don’t have to an expert or particularly au fait with all the ins and outs of social media skills to give it a go. Search Google or Bing and look for social networks that are relevant to your industry and products. Have a look at the number of people registered and see what they have to say. If the quality of the contributions is good and useful to your particular line of business, then engage with community: post responses and questions to forums and articles, and use any responses to create content that will prove useful to the rest of the community. Link your comments not just to your own website, but also to the sites of the other people and business that inspired your original post. If you share in this way and credit the sources that inspired you, they will in turn re-credit you and share your contributions with their own networks. Who needs a social media consultant?