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Social Media Myths: 5 Roadblocks to Discovery

Social Media Myths: 5 Roadblocks to Discovery

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Published by ohmygov
OhMyGov Inc. whitepaper that attempts to debunk prevailing myths about Social Media. Demonstrates how, when used and analyzed correctly, Social Media can identify trends, unravel mysteries about public perceptions, evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns, and even predict the future.
OhMyGov Inc. whitepaper that attempts to debunk prevailing myths about Social Media. Demonstrates how, when used and analyzed correctly, Social Media can identify trends, unravel mysteries about public perceptions, evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns, and even predict the future.

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Published by: ohmygov on Aug 20, 2010
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05/14/2012

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Social Media Myths:5 Roadblocks to Discovery
Executive Summary
Despite social media’s prominence as the number one online activity,the promise that social media holds for governments, businesses,educators, and politicians has yet to be fully realized. Commonly held but erroneous myths — that social media is free, just for kids, a passing fad, for socializing only, and unmeasurable — are precluding
organizations from allocating the required resources to benet from
social media. This paper attempts to debunk the prevailing myths and demonstratehow, when used and analyzed correctly, social media can identify trends, unravel mysteries about public perceptions, evaluate theeffectiveness of campaigns, and even predict the future.
OhMyGov Inc.
July 2010 Whitepaper 
Copyright © 2010 OhMyGov Inc.
 
Introduction
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 trafc 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 
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Because social media is perceived as free,most organizations avoid measuring itseffectivenesss. This is a mistake.
 
on Facebook. According to a recent study bymarket researcher Pingdom, 61% of Facebook’susers are aged 35 and over, with the averageage being 37. Twitter boasts similar numbers,with the average user being 39 years old.While it may come as a surprise that people of middle age (35–44) are the most “social” agegroup out there, it shouldn’t. They were thegeneration of people in their 20s when emailand online communications took off in themid-1990s. These are the men and women whostuck it out through AOL instant messaging andchat rooms to get to today’s media Valhalla.Addressing the social media age myth is importantfor breaking down another barrier to it being treat-ed as a valuable business tool and data source. Aslong as it is perceived as a daily diary for teenagersor a party planning device for college students, itswide-ranging utility will continue to be ignored.
Myth #3: Social media is apassing fad
Organizations that continue to fail to investtime and resources into developing social mediastrategies or integrating social media metricsand analytics into their daily operations may beoperating under the fallacy that social media isa mere fad that will soon disappear and never bemissed. In deciding whether or not social mediais a fad, one must examine two factors: marketlongevity and market penetration. Regarding theformer, social media began in the mid-1990’s,when instant messaging and group chats were
becoming popular. The rst “social network
-ing” site, sixdegrees.com, mirrored much of Facebook’s functionality and debuted in 1998.Whether social media’s lifespan to date is 15years or 12 years we shall leave to academics
to decide. Sufce it to say that the technology
has outlived many other popular fads such as theRubik’s Cube and Cabbage Patch Doll. In fact, so-cial media has been around longer than Google.With regard to market penetration, social mediais becoming almost as ubiquitious as email. Arecent study noted that 75% of Americans vis-ited a social networking site in May 2010, andmore than half of U.S. online adults have at
least one social networking prole. Even more
impressive: 96% of Generation Y uses socialmedia, and Facebook is now the most visitedwebsite in the world—a fact that undoubtedlyis contributing to the dramatic year-over-yearincrease in time being spent on social networks.Those who would still dismiss the power of social
Social Media Myths: 5 Roadblocks to Discovery — OhMyGov Inc. Whitepaper 
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