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Social Media Misconceptions: Setting the Record Straight

With a society consumed with social media, one would think it would be relatively understood. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Many people and businesses are still struggling to not only digest what social media can do, but also to develop an effective strategy that adapts to continuous changes on each platform.

Social media is powerful and can be used as a primary marketing tool, which means it should be understood. To avoid falling for misinterpretations and some outright untruths, watch out for the following misconceptions.

Using ALL social media channels will make my business better – you can’t go wrong with more, right?

False. Time and time again, businesses jump on the social media bandwagon and embrace blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, online review sites, Quora, Vine, Instagram, and any other new platform that comes along. First of all, before you embrace the “tools,” you need to develop a social media strategy that outlines what they will do. For instance, you shouldn’t use Snapchat just because it’s new and exciting. You create a strategy based on market research around where your audience is, then you determine which tools will help you connect further with them.

Secondly, if you create a strategy that involves all the channels listed, you also need to have the team to support it. You have to be realistic in creating your strategy and know what you are capable of taking on. If you embrace too much at once and aren’t able to enforce it, your business will suffer as your audience won’t know what to expect.

So, I can just play on Facebook and Pinterest all day, huh?

Once again, the answer is a strong “No.” Let’s think for a minute – if it really were this easy, don’t you think a lot more businesses would be doing it and doing it well? Being effective on any social platform requires a strategy and an action plan. This action plan involves daily implementation on a variety of levels. Furthermore, all this implementation needs to connect back to the strategy which defines why you’re doing it. This allows you to be able to measure what is working and what is not.

Push out continuous content so no one will be able to miss us

This is a big negative, yet countless people and businesses continue to misuse it. The main problem with this is that businesses could be viewed as spammers for continuous content pushing. News publications have even had this issue due to pushing out their own articles repeatedly. Apart from the spam issue, people may stop following you. Audiences follow brands for particular reasons, but if you post too much, consumers will turn a blind eye to it.

Each brand varies in terms of how often it should post content, but again, if you have a solid strategy that you’re following, the plan will be clearly outlined.

Social media only benefits marketing

Really? Are you kidding me? While social media provides an incredibly valuable tool for marketing efforts, the benefits far exceed the marketing department. As we know from an individual perspective, social media touches almost every area of our lives. The same is true for a business. Social media impacts customer service, recruiting, human resources, internal relations, public relations, as well as many other areas.

Social media truly influences the business as a whole, just as other marketing elements do as well.

Also, in talking about roles, social media does NOT replace traditional marketing. Since social media is perceived as being “free, easy and fun,” it is often thought that other marketing methods are irrelevant. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media offers another tool to add to the marketing mix, but it is not a standalone toolbox. It is most effective when it is used in conjunction with other marketing tools.

High numbers mean success

Not necessarily. There are some brands that the numbers do speak to the strategy and work they’ve put into it, but this isn’t always the case. Think about Twitter, for example. If you have a 1,000 “egg heads” following you, it doesn’t exactly indicate your social media strategy is paying off. In this case, it would be better to have 500 people from your target market as they are where the real value lies in terms of interactions.

Because people do look at numbers, it is often important that businesses invest some money into building up their following periodically. Numbers can impact credibility, but they don’t guarantee success.

These are just a few of many misconceptions about social media out there. To protect yourself and your business, consider your own goals before falling prey to the latest misconception floating around.

 

Guest Blogging Debate: Is It a Good or a Bad Strategy?

 

Computer Keyboard

Is guest blogging really dead? The SEO and marketing crowd has been all abuzz about it of late after Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, spoke out against it. According to him, guest blogging is NOT a good strategy for building links to your site in 2014.

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.”

These are powerful words coming from one of the most respected individuals in the SEO industry and someone who happens to be employed by the world’s largest search engine. Cutts’ recent stance was stimulated after he received an email in which someone pitched him about posting on his blog and offered money to essentially gain links. He equates the behavior with “paying for PageRank” and having others spread spammy links on blogs.

Cutts has been hinting that guest blogging was being frowned upon by Google since 2012, but in recent months, he has voiced his concerns even more:

While Cutts raises some very valid points, there are still questions that arise related to whether guest blogging should no longer be practiced. For instance, what about the majority of the search industry that is guest blogging on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and other industry online publications? To this point, respected news outlets such as Forbes encourage contributing writers.

So, what does this mean? Is guest blogging really invaluable or not?

Though what Matt Cutts says cannot be taken lightly, it is important to think about what a guest post really means for you and your business. The main area that Cutts is concerned about is the poor links, a.k.a. spammy links, that some businesses and brands push for the mere SEO benefit. Again, this does hold merit as the blogosphere has grown. Popular blogs ProBlogger and Copyblogger, to name a couple, have stopped accepting blog posts from unsolicited bloggers.

However, the purpose of guest blogging is not just for the linking benefits. Guest blogging also has marketing benefits. For starters, guest blogging provides a valuable branding opportunity for businesses. It also allows for exposure, targeting a specific audience, community building and lead generation, which are all huge marketing objectives.

Chris Street of Bristol Editor recently saw the benefits of guest blogging prove true after he had a guest post published on Social Media Today:

–          More than 650 shares, Likes and re-tweets across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+

–          Nearly 700 visitors to my blog within one day, clicking on this link from the published article

–          A new client signing up from Vancouver for six months’ blog marketing consultancy in 2014

Street also pointed out that his content resided next to social media giants such as Chris Brogan and Brian Solis, which added credibility to both his post as well as his name.

Still, the question remains: is guest blogging good or bad? The short answer is there isn’t a clear cut answer. We’ve heard Matt Cutts speak out against it, and we’ve also heard valid arguments for it. But, if you’re trying to determine whether or not you should pursue it and include it in your marketing plan, think about your business goals.

If you, for example, are only looking for the SEO benefits associated with guest blogging, then you may want to re-evaluate your SEO strategy without incorporating guest blog posts. When Google says it’s cracking down on a certain area, it does. And I, for one, would not want to get on Google’s bad side.

On the flip side, if you look at guest posting more from the marketing standpoint of branding, reach, etc., then you may not want to write off guest blogging completely. You want your marketing efforts – including your SEO strategy – to align, but the other benefits you receive from guest posting could prove greater than the SEO value you may or may not receive.

The best advice for pursuing guest posts is the same advice for content creation on your own blog – make sure you produce high-quality content. If you’re going to reach out to Social Media Today, for instance, your content better be good enough to sit next to the likes of Chris Brogan and Brian Solis.

While it’s likely this debate will continue for some time, when it comes to your next steps, concentrate on your goals and strategies to see what does or doesn’t fit.

Image courtesy of John Watson on Flickr.com.