Social media has come to be an accepted part of business, but so many business executives still see it as a secondary part of day-to-day operations—something they know they need to do, but don’t really feel is important. Often, this is due to common misconceptions about social media that were either false from the get-go or have come to be false as these tools have evolved.
Lots of business leaders are becoming increasingly social media savvy, but in most companies, those higher on the corporate ladder have a lot to learn from the people working for them. Here are 5 things your boss still might not understand about social media, and how to counter these misconceptions.
Social Media Doesn’t Make Businesses Money
As social networks are evolving with business in mind, they are identifying ways to make enterprises money. There’s a stigma about social media not actually driving any revenue to businesses, but more often than not this is related to a lack of understanding in how to track social media ROI.
To identify how social media is contributing to your bottom line, you need to tie it to existing business goals. Much in the same way as traditional advertising channels, social networks can drive sales and leads, increase exposure to marketing materials and signups, create brand advocates and so much more, often for cheaper than their traditional counterparts. Identify the metrics you want to track and then use analytics tools Hootsuite analytics, Google Analytics and Salesforce to track your progress. Adjust what isn’t working and improve what is, and repeat the process.
We all know the direction print is heading and even television is slowly being surpassed by social media (YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any cable network). Social media is the new frontier for driving revenue to your business.
Social Media is Built for Entertainment, Not Business
Even if this is how most social networks began, all major social networks have now built business applications and structures into their tools. This isn’t an exaggeration. We all know about LinkedIn’s professional uses and Facebook and Twitter ads, but even Instagram and Pinterest— secondary networks for most companies— are experimenting with advertising and targeting the enterprise with custom content.
Social Media is not Secure
Social media gets a bad rap because hackers like the Syrian Electronic Army intentionally making their attacks a matter of publicity. In most of the popular cases we read about in the news, like the hacking of the Onion Twitter account, the accounts were hacked using login information obtained through phishing emails, not through any security breach on the social networks themselves.
In 2014, computer security software company McAfee predicted that mobile malware and mobile attacks would see the biggest growth, including attacks on mobile enterprise infrastructure where security technology is still “immature.” They also said attacks on PC operating systems and cloud-based software will greatly increase as well. And while McAfee expects social network attacks to rise too, the report is a clear illustration of how far behind cybersecurity is on all fronts. Social media is no different than any other software when it comes to password security in that it requires the same degree of caution.
What was also very interesting about the McAfee report was that in talking about social media threats they said preventing such attacks “will require increased vigilance by individuals and enterprise policies and solutions.” In other words, most of the attacks are successful due to employees not being educated on what to look out for, or when employees don’t have business social media policies to follow. Preventing such social media attacks is therefore within the reach of any enterprise. All they need is to create a social media policy and commit to social media education program like Hootsuite University.
Social Media is a One-Man or One-Department Operation
“[The] notion of a single person who spends their entire day on Twitter creating hashtags” is dead, writes GigaOM reporter Matthew Ingram. Being social is “part of everyone’s job, or soon will be.” Social media might have started off as the responsibility of one dedicated manager, but it’s now a tool for your entire organization.
Social media data provides sales teams with new leads and insight into prospective clients and competitors. It provides your human resources with an incredible bank of potential hires, as well as an opportunity to showcase what your business has to offer. It provides your customer service teams with the ability to deal with over half of consumers who use social channels for product inquiries. And in general, it provides even the smallest companies with the opportunity to show a global audience absolutely anything about their business. Silo-ing social media into one department is just a waste of its real business potential.
Social Media Isn’t for Bosses
Encouraging the use of social media throughout the enterprise doesn’t exclude the C-suite. Your VPs and CEO should all be using social media as well.
A study by Weber Shandwick found CEOs that engage on social media are 10 per cent more likely to be seen as open, honest and respectful, and 25 per cent more likely to be seen as friendly and people-focused. The same study found over 80% of respondents believe CEOs who engage in social media make better leaders, are more trustworthy and enhance the brand image.
You can see the value in the social efforts of CEOs like Richard Branson and James Caan, who are helping reach new clients and raise awareness about products and services using social media. And if you’re looking for more direct ROI, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings notably caused Netflix shares to jump 6.2 per cent by writing on his personal Facebook account, which has 200,000 subscribers, that Netflix’s monthly online viewing had grown to over 1 billion hours.
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