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5 Social Media Marketing Myths: Busted!

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Were you one of the businesses that thought the 'Internet concept' was overblown? Did you scoff at the notion of 'electronic mail?' Today these are indispensible business tools. Face it, so is social media marketing.

While seasoned digital marketers know better, several small business owners are just beginning to develop an online presence and may be pondering these five social media myths that simply refuse to go the way of the dinosaur. Let's clear a few things up, shall we?

Myth 1: Social media marketing is free.

Yes and no. It's true that you can sign up and create a profile on popular platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Pinterest for free. However, a monetary value must be placed on the time spent to develop the platform and the creation and implementation of an online social media strategy.

A strong plan will include assigning responsibility, creating content, exploring productivity tools, monitoring your outreach, building relationships, putting in place and measuring key performance indicators, etc. Social media marketing must be nurtured, grown, picked, and pruned -- shaped and reshaped to deliver the highest yield possible. That takes time, and time is money.

Myth 2: I'll get a neighborhood teenager to handle my social networking, they know the 'net.

Sure, it might be a good idea to recruit a youngster to show you the ropes -- how to develop a profile, some tips and tricks on how to get the most from the many platforms available, and how to search for an audience but after that it is your responsibility to shape your brand and your message. After all, you're running a business not a high school dance.

Your social media communications plan must be as carefully crafted as any of your other marketing efforts. Not only should you not cede responsibility of your social media messaging to some young hipster that goes to school with your kid, you should tightly monitor all social media messages that come from your business or your brand.

Myth 3: If I get involved in social media marketing the 'haters' will hijack my marketing message.

Guess what, whether you are using social media or not, people are talking about their experience with your business. Creating a social media presence allows you to monitor what's being said and offers you the opportunity to publically respond to less than favorable comments, winning the customer (and others that may have been swayed by the negative post) back.

According to the 2011 Harris Interactive/Right Now Customer Experience Impact Report, the way you handle complaints can determine your customer's satisfaction. In fact, 26 percent of dissatisfied customers that do not give you the opportunity to right a situation in person share their view of the experience on a social media network.

Fifty percent of them look for a response within a week and if it's not forthcoming, they may take their business elsewhere. Of the dissatisfied customers that post a complaint and receive a response, the study showed that 46 percent were pleased and 22 percent went on to post a positive comment about the business.

Myth 4: I built a Facebook page therefore I'm a social media marketer.

While Facebook is a master monster when it comes to social media marketing, there are a number of other digital 'places' that your customers are congregating. Once you've identified the optimum platforms for your business, the work begins.

Social media marketing -- on Facebook and elsewhere -- is not a 'set it and forget it' tool. It takes commitment, tenacity, time, and strategy to identify the best platforms for your business, consistently engage your target market, and develop business-driving relationships.

Myth 5: Using 'friend-farms' to buy 'likes' and 'followers' will build my business.

Sorry, Charlie, it just doesn't work that way. In fact, pumping up your social media numbers does nothing but trim your stash of cash.

It's the same as sending a promotional email to an unqualified list. It's dead on arrival, no matter how many addresses you send it to. You'd be much better served building your following by sharing relevant content, interesting news, and an occasional marketing message.

What other social media marketing myths do see out there or would like to bust? Leave a comment for discussion below.