Perception is not reality in world of social media

Social MediaMagicians are great manipulators of your mind. They make you think something has vanished, when it is still right there in front of our very eyes. Or they cause you to gasp as they seemingly convert a rolled up newspaper into a bunch of flowers. Our perception is one thing – the reality is different. As a magician friend once told me, things cannot disappear – either they were not there in the first place, or they are still there now. It is just that we think they have gone.

Perception is not reality in the world of magic. Yet, when you talk to business leaders they are fond of saying that perception is reality. If your customers think you no longer sell a particular product – but you do – their reality is their perception. So, marketing gurus, sales trainers and leadership experts will tell you that in business you need to focus on perceptions because they are reality.

Except if you consider social media. The world of online social media is buzzing. Businesses are clamouring to create Facebook pages, have LinkedIn groups, establish Pinterest pages and Tweet away until the early hours. Companies are employing social media managers and you can even get degrees in social media to satisfy the growing demand for specialists in the arena. The perception of the business world at large is that social media is important and something of a game changer.

Yet that perception is not borne out by the reality of what businesses are actually doing. They say one thing, but do another. In a recent study by Constant Contact it was shown that only 13% of businesses post daily on Twitter. One Tweet, once a day will only gain visibility in a tiny proportion of your audience – frankly, you may as well not be doing it. On Facebook, for instance, their statistics show that the average posting only gets seen by 16% of the people who have liked that page or who are friends of the contributor. Yet, in the Constant Contact study businesses revealed only 32% of them were posting to Facebook each week. In other words, 68% of businesses were not even giving themselves a 16% chance of being seen.

Yet at the same time, business owners are saying how important Facebook is and how good it is for marketing. How can that be when they hardly use it?

Businesses are clearly confused about the online social world. Indeed, the Constant Contact study found that for 54% of the businesses in the study, knowledge about Internet social activity was their main priority. This further confirms that the perception amongst business owners is that social media is important and valuable, but that is not matched by the reality of what they are practically doing – which is almost nothing.

There are some clear examples of social media success with big brands gaining significant impact as a result of services like Facebook and Twitter. But for the majority of firms such success is far away.

You have two options:

  • Either commit more time and effort and resources into well-structured, well-planned, highly frequent (several times a day) social activities
  • Or carry on only using social networks occasionally but promote each item like crazy

In other words the choices you have are either social media volume or occasional social media activity which is promoted fanatically. But either option requires commitment, planning and resources. The perception that just by doing a bit of social media can help is not the reality. If you think this way, you are being your own magician, pulling the proverbial wool over your own eyes.

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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