Social media is an unparalleled path of contact between you and your audience, and having a strong social network allows you to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers.  However, while the benefits of social media for businesses are endless, it is not a marketing miracle worker. Unfortunately, this seems to be the misconception of many companies that are entering the social media sphere for the first time. The incontestable buzz surrounding social media splendor creates a great deal of misapprehensions among business owners, causing them to approach social media marketing with unrealistic expectations.

Therefore, before giving up on your online marketing efforts, consider these (unpleasant) truths about social media (as outlined by Fast Company):

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  1. Engagement Can’t Be Seen in Dollars: Until Lady Gaga, Skittles had the record for most likes and comments on a single Facebook post. Did it boost sales? “Anybody who says they can track that is in a bubble,” says Michael Lebowitz, CEO of Big Spaceship, the ad firm behind the Skittles campaign. Therein lies the problem. CEO’s and business owners want to see the ROI (return on investment) of social media, and they expect it to be in monetary terms. However, it’s nearly impossible to gauge exactly how much sales are social media driven, or put a dollar-value on a Facebook fan/like/comment. We’re not saying social media doesn’t affect sales – it does. It’s just nearly impossible to track or measure.
  1. Money Can’t Buy Everything: When it comes to marketing, social media really evens the playing field. While large corporations have more money to invest in online marketing and advertising, social media gives small businesses the opportunity to be just as successful online. Social media, at its core, is very inexpensive. Anything beyond that is an option – not a necessity. For example, to coincide with a daylong campaign, Kraft asked Klout to change the name of its social influence measurement “Klout score” to “fun score.” The answer: no. In social, platforms hold the power.
  1. Facebook Isn’t a Megaphone: Brands with more than 1 million fans reach only 3% to 5% of them a day, estimates Jeff Widman of analytics platform PageLever. To find out why, Widman asked social marketers if they ever visit fan pages as users. Their reply: “Oh, never.” Social media is about conversations. If you try to advertise to your fans and followers it will turn them off. The goal in social media communication is talking with your audience – not at them.

4. Content Rarely Goes Viral: Stop thinking in those terms, says Microsoft Research’s Duncan Watts: “Rather than ideas propagating for generations, almost everything terminates within one degree of the seed. If you want something to spread, generate an enormous number of seeds.”

5. You’re Being Watched: A big brand recently broke Facebook’s rule against using a post as a sweepstakes. Reps were in touch within an hour. “They don’t want brands gaming the system for engagement,” the brand’s rep admitted.

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