A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with some people about a matter. Some of the people were already aware of the situation because I had posted about it on Facebook. Others, who were out of the loop, proceeded to mock Facebook rather than recognize it was Facebook that enabled some of us to be better informed and better connected than they were.
Social media is having a huge impact on the way people and organizations communicate and relate to each other. Facebook now has more than 500 million users and has surpassed Google as the most popular site in the world.
Yet some organizations remain on the social media sidelines. I believe it’s because they’ve bought into some myths about social media, myths I’d like to put an end to right now.
So let me address 5 myths many on the social media sidelines have bought into. If your organization is one of those still on the sidelines maybe this will give you the motivation you need to get in the game.
1) Social media is a fad. MySpace was once the hottest website on the planet. Now it’s a ghetto for teenagers, musicians, and stalkers. Some on the social media sidelines are patting themselves on the back for never getting into MySpace. And now they point to MySpace’s meteoric rise and fall as proof that social networking sites are just a fad, and eventually Facebook, Twitter, and all the others will eventually meet the same demise.
The truth is while sites like MySpace (and perhaps Facebook and Twitter) will come and go, the concepts of social media have changed the way people communicate. Communication has gone from being broadcast in one direction, to being a multi-directional conversation. The power has shifted FROM organizations that once controlled what information people got and when they got it. It’s shifted TO the people who now control who they listen to, when they listen to, and how they listen. Social media will continue to grow and change, but as a form of communication it’s here to stay.
2) Social media is only for young people. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is people over 55. The age group with the highest percentage of people on Facebook is those 35-54. While MySpace has always been mostly a hangout for high schoolers and Facebook started as a tool for college students, social media is now ubiquitous among all age groups from teens to seniors.
3) Social media is narcissistic. “I don’t want to read about what everybody had for lunch!” is a common rant among the social media sideliners. Many have the perception that all people do through social media is fire off meaningless personal updates.
But social media is being used for so much more. People are using it to listen to their customers, to stay connected with family, friends, customers, and vendors, to share ideas, to sell their products and services, to learn from each other, to encourage and pray for each other, to rally people towards a common cause.
4) Social media is a waste of time. Are the things mentioned in the paragraph above a waste of time? I don’t think so. Yes, social media can be a big time suck. Especially for those people who get caught up in playing all those games on Facebook like Farmville and Mafia Wars. It takes discipline to use social media efficiently and effectively. But done well, it will help you achieve your goals.
5) Social media is irrelevant to organizations like mine. Social media is all about relationships and communication, two things that are very important to every organizations of every kind, every size, and in every place. Whether you’re a church, school, non-profit, or business someone in your field or niche is using social media to engage and communicate with people inside and outside their organization. Whether you have 20 members/students/customers or 20,000, social media can help you build your relationships with them and connect with new people.
If you’re on the social media sidelines, what’s holding you back? When you talk with organizations still on the sidelines, what excuses and myths do you hear?