In recent years, social media has emerged as thehottest Internet phenomenon ever created. Yet,despite its prominence as the number one onlineactivity, the promise that social media holds forgovernments, businesses, educators, and poli-ticians has yet to be fully realized. This is duein large part to (1) a variety of incorrect mythsthat large segments of society still believe aboutsocial media, which prevents widespread adop-tion in professional applications, and (2) a lackof awareness of how social media can be usedfor a number of branding, policy, and researchapplications. This paper attempts to debunkprevailing myths about social media and provideinsights into how social media—when used andanalyzed correctly—can identify trends, unravelmysteries in public perception of a person, orga-nization or brand, evaluate the effectiveness of outreach campaigns, and even predict the future.
Myth #1: Social media is free
While it is true that public social media plat-forms do not charge a licensing fee for use, usingthe platforms requires organizations to allocateresources in the form of man hours. Employeesmust be paid to spend the time to learn how touse these platforms, populate them with con-tent, operate them, monitor them, optimizethem, and communicate with others throughthem. In fact, one of the hottest new jobs isthat of social media manager—a position entirelydevoted to navigating the social media world.To understand the need for such a position,consider the time it takes to run a blog. Even amodest blog requires the posting of several sub-stantial entries a week. Estimating that an orga-nization’s blogger needs four hours to researchand write a 500-word post, plus time to edit andget feedback from colleagues and higher-ups, itwould take 20+ hours total simply to composefour posts a week. Finding or creating photos,charts or infographics adds still more time, andformatting the posts with hyperlinks and tags, up-loading them to a content management system,tweeting about them, responding to reader com-
ments, and monitoring site trafc brings the total
estimated commitment closer to 30 hours eachweek. Depending upon an organization’s culture,even 140 character Twitter messages can requiresubstantial amounts of time to craft. In a govern-ment public health agency, for example, messages
must rst be cleared by scientists to ensure ve
-racity. Once published, messages must be moni-tored; sharing and commenting on social mediasites can occur rapidly, and organizations needto be aware of the public’s real-time response.Clearly, social media is not free. Yet one reasonthat social media is often not deployed and moni-tored properly is because it is viewed as a gratistechnolgy—a communications perk. And in mostorganizations, if something is perceived as free,resources are not allocated to ensure its perfor-mance is optimized and properly monitored. Itis precisively because social media is perceivedas free that most organizations avoid measuringits effectiveness in meeting goals and objec-tives, and in measuring the effectiveness of theiremployees in deploying messaging through it.
Myth #2: Social media is for kids
This is perhaps the most common and inac-curate myth about social media. Arising out of Facebook’s and MySpace’s initial successes inmarketing to the college and teen markets backin 2004–2006 when the sites were new, the ste-reotype remains even in the face of wildly con-trasting statistics. Today, women 55–65 years of age comprise the fastest growing demographic
Social Media Myths: 5 Roadblocks to Discovery — OhMyGov Inc. Whitepaper
Because social media is perceived as free,most organizations avoid measuring itseffectivenesss. This is a mistake.