Social media is big news these days. Nearly every week we hear something different:
- This social media company has gone public and is valued at $$$$
- That large company just launched their own social media platform
- This celebrity just embarrassed themselves on social media
- ?% of all adults are now on a particular social media platform
The list of news items about social media goes on and on and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. It’s no wonder that many freelancers are confused about how to handle social media.
In this post, I’ll refute seven of the most common myths about social media so that you don’t have to worry about them.
Myth #1. Social Media Is a Waste of Time
You’ve probably read posts and articles proclaiming social media to be a waste of time. Your friends and family might even make this very statement to your face.
The truth is, social media CAN be a waste of time if you don’t plan your social media strategy. You can spend a lot of time absorbed in Facebook, Twitter, or whatever suits your fancy.
Most of those who believe social media to be a waste of time are thinking about casual use of social media. They’re thinking about the teenager who spends all day playing Mafia Wars or gossiping about who just broke up with whom in their high school. They’re not thinking about a strategic business use of social media–but you should be.
Myth #2. You Can’t Reach Decision-Makers
According to this myth, no one who is really successful is on social media. For this reason (according to the myth), you can’t make really significant contacts through social media.
While it’s true that many famous celebrities may be unreachable through social media (and even if they have an account, it may be handled by their publicist), there are many other business decision makers who can be contacted directly through social media. But before trying to sell them your product or services you need to take the time to cultivate a relationship with them.
Myth #3. Social Media Leads to Instant Success
“Instant” social media success is rarely instant. You can’t sign up for a social media platform one day and expect to get six new clients from it the next day (or even the next week).
It’s better to spend a small amount of time each day on a social media platform for several months or even a year than to spend 24/7 on it for a week and then burn out and quit participating altogether.
Myth #4. You Must Sign Up for Every New Platform
It’s also easy to be too eager about social media. There are so many platforms out there with new, smaller social media platforms being announced nearly every week. If you tried to keep up with it all you’d wear yourself out. There’s simply not enough time in the day.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sign up for every single social media platform the instant it becomes available. Let’s face it, not all of them were designed for people like you and your clients. Plus, some of them will fail.
You should definitely have a presence on the larger platforms. After that, take your time and try to discern where your clients and prospective clients are interacting and go there.
Myth #5. Social Media Can Replace Your Website
Another common myth is that the small business website is obsolete. According to this myth, it’s been totally replaced by your social media profile and participation.
I don’t buy it.
For one thing, your website is the one place where you have complete control. Social media sites can change the rules with little or no input from you. They can even fail and cease to exist.
Your website, on the other hand, is totally yours. You can use it to showcase your best work, your expertise, and your vision. Trust me, it’s still important to your freelancing business. Always include a link to your website from your social media profiles.
Myth #6. What You Do or Say Doesn’t Really Matter
What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens on Facebook (or Twitter, or Quora, or any social media platform) is fair game for your prospects, future employers, and competition. Just ask those people (via Mashable) who have lost their jobs due to their social media indiscretions.
Anything you do or say online (or even offline for that matter) has the potential to affect your professional reputation. If you’re in business, this could possibly be a big deal–so be careful.
Myth #7. You Can Buy Social Media Friends
In my opinion, one of the most disgusting myths is perpetuated by those schemes that charge you in exchange for inflating your social media friend count.
While having a ginormous number of social media friends may impress your friends and family and be a great conversation starter at parties, if part of your reason for social media involvement is to promote your business having a large, untargeted (and uninterested) following probably won’t help.
Instead, try to learn a little bit about each social media contact so that you can interact in a meaningful fashion with those who are truly interested in what you have to offer.
What social media myths have you encountered? Share them in the comments.
Image by PhilllipC