Social media marketing is a new frontier for most companies. There is no shortage of buzz around this new marketing tactic and businesses are anxious to get involved. Since social media marketing is so new, there are some common misconceptions about how to leverage social media to build your brand, connect with customers, improve your bottom line and increase business. Before setting up a Twitter account or a Facebook page, there are some things that must be considered. Some companies may not be happy with some of these things - but if you don't accept social media marketing for what it is, it will be difficult to succeed.

You need to be involved with your social media marketing.

Even if your company decides to hire a social media marketing firm to set up your social media accounts and handle all of your social media marketing efforts, you must still be aware and understand how all of these tactics work together to benefit your business. If you rely solely on your social media marketing firm, there will certainly be a disconnect. There will be less organization, lack of communication and fewer successful campaigns and promotions. 

There is more to social media than Twitter and Facebook.

Social media is a term that refers to a broad range of tools. There are plenty of strategies that your business can try. People don't realize that there is more to social media than Facebook and Twitter. Some other forms of social media include: social bookmarking, social news, social networking, blogging, video, forums, etc. Broadening your reach by using a variety of these tools will provide a better chance of success.

You can't build a relevant audience then forget about them.

Social media marketing is not about building a huge audience, exchanging in brief conversations with them and then moving on. Relationship maintenance is key!  Over time, you need to keep delivering consistent messages and meet your audience's expectations. Once you begin interacting with your audience in a certain way- you must remain on this path. If you change your path, your audience may be turned off- which will put you back at square one and also damage your brand.

Like it or not - social media marketing is a full time job.

If you don't have a team member that is dedicated specifially to social media and is constantly monitoring and paying attention to your social media marketing- you are likely to fail. Engagement and participation in social media needs to be more than one update to your Facebook page or one tweet daily.

Face it- you won't always be able control the message.

If you want your company/brand to be discussed and spread awareness, be prepared to handle some negative feedback and discussion. Having some bad press and negative comments can actually help make your company look legitimate. No company is perfect. Negative comments should be seen as an opportunity to connect with the customer, handle the situtation and in the long run- improve your business.

Social media is helping your business even if you think you are wasting your time.

What is wrong with simply engaging your customers and building an audience for your brand through discussion? In the long run this will build your brand as well as create customer loyalty to your brand. Brand awareness and customer loyalty are likely to lead to your end goals in time. There is no need to include a Call to Action on every piece of information you put out.

Patience is a virtue. This is true not only in everyday life, but also when it comes to social media marketing.

Social media is not a quick fix for your marketing woes. It is imperative that you keep working at it, remain motivated, build your accounts and keep all of your accounts active.

Every tactic will not necessarily work for your business.

Before entering into any social media strategy, you must conduct some research to determine what is appropriate for you. Some companies do well on Facebook while others are more compatible with Digg. It all depends on your business, the resources available for participation and what you feel comfortable with.

Social media marketing does not generate $$$ overnight.

Simply getting involved in social media and setting up accounts will not translate into immediate sales. Social media takes time to generate ROI. Accounts take time to set up, concrete goals need to be set, content and an audience need to be built. There are many ways in which social media marketing can help your business (besides direct sales or leads). Brand building, increased natural search engine rankings, improved customer relationships, etc. are all goals that can tie into your bottom line and generate ROI.

Any company that wants to use social media as part of their overall marketing strategy needs to understand that this new tactic is one that takes time and can deliver many benefits other than simply increased sales.  If used correctly and in conjunction with other marketing activities (both online and offline), social media can prove to be an important part of your business's marketing plan.

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Aztek is a web design, web application development, web marketing, and hosting firm in Cleveland Ohio. We’ve been around for more than 16 years, and we’ve worked with more than 600 clients. Aztek is not affiliated with the unfortunate car of the same name, nor are we descended from a fifteenth century Mesoamerican civilization. At least, not that we know of.