2004 marked the creation of a website that evolved from a college experiment to a place where individuals from all over the world can stay in touch with friends and family, discuss recent news, post pictures and much more. Two years after that, a website that put those thoughts into 140 characters or less was developed. Today, there are more than 1 billion Facebook users, and more than 400 million Tweets are sent daily.

When Facebook and Twitter were built, there was no way to know that they would become a staple form of communication, forever changing the way people talk to each other and the way companies conduct business. Hundreds of statistics and studies prove social media is here to stay and businesses that do it right have a competitive advantage. Yet, some businesses cling to myths about the usability and importance of getting on board. 

Myth: New Technology Is Too Complicated

The creators of social media sites are constantly finding ways to make the platforms user friendly, especially for their rising demographic of baby boomers. In fact, Facebook users age 55 and older have increased by more than 80 percent in the past three years. Those who have mastered the use of social media on a personal level often are more reluctant to use it for business purposes because they don’t know where to start. Just like learning any new program, the process starts with research. Social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have simplified the process by providing step-by-step guides for new users and hosting webinars on how to successfully create company pages.

Myth: Time and Resources Are Scarce
A learning curve can require a time commitment from businesses that are new to social media, but the job gets easier and less time-consuming once the platforms are understood on a basic level.
  • Use available staff. Business owners who lack the time (or desire) to dedicate to social media or who can’t afford to hire a digital media specialist should recruit trusted staff interested in social media to see if they would like to take the lead. Just be sure they clearly understand the company’s goals and overall mission. Resources, such as GroupTweet, allow multiple contributors to tweet on behalf of a company.
  • Schedule posts. To avoid spending all day on social media sites, set aside 10 minutes in the morning to schedule every post for the day. Websites such as Hootsuite allow businesses to schedule posts in advance across all platforms. Facebook also allows social media account managers to select the day and time for updates to be posted. While scheduling posts is convenient, don’t forget to check back throughout the day to engage with followers and fans.
  • Take advantage of free resources. Tracking posts and engagement with customers is key to success. A media monitoring company can be hired to do this, but an abundance of free resources are available to those without a big budget. Starting with the most basic form of media monitoring, businesses should set up Google Alerts so they are aware of when they are mentioned online. Websites such as Social Mention and Twilert also search for mentions of a company name and send updates when someone Tweets about the business. Social Mention gives a snapshot of the brand’s reach and whether what’s being said is positive or negative
Myth: The Company Lacks Enough Content
When creating a social media plan, consider what the overall goal is and with whom the business is trying to communicate. If a company doesn’t have enough content to post on Twitter five times a day, that platform might not be necessary. Just because a firm is on one social media website doesn’t mean it needs to be on all of them. In fact,the only thing worse than not being on social media is being on social media and not having anything to say—resulting in outdated company profiles.

That being said, social media is meant to generate a conversation so content should never be limited.While some companies post updates about current projects, others use it to acknowledge their employees and community service outreach. Certain businesses use it to gain credibility in the industry by sharing blog posts, starting discussions with industry leaders and asking their followers interactive questions. If a company is unsure where to start, check out some of the leaders in related fields and see what they’re saying online. 

Myth: Customers Aren’t on Social Media
There are more than 1 billion Facebook users, 343 million active Google+ users, 288 million active Twitter users and 238 million active LinkedIn users. In total, 72 percent of all Internet users are now on social media. Customers that businesses might not even know exist are reachable through social media. The key is finding the right people on the right platforms.

Take some time deciding on the target audience and the goals associated with a social media plan. While Facebook might be a great place to interact with employees and members of other organizations in the AEC industry, Twitter is often where companies interact and media get involved. If the goal is to reach new industry leaders, share open jobs at the office or highlight projects and products, LinkedIn might be the best place to start. 

Myth: Social Media Does Not Affect the Bottom Line
Not only can social media bring intangible return on investments for a business, it can generate credibility, a positive reputation and trust from customers. Depending on the initial goals of a social media plan, each business may look for different ways to prove its effectiveness and purpose. Being the first to share a breaking story, starting a conversation on the newest trend or responding to a customer’s concerns all offer a business the opportunity to build its brand in a way unlike ever before, reaching more people than a typical mailing list.

In addition, social media generates almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing or daily mail. Forty-six percent of web users turn to social media for making a purchase and 85 percent of people say they feel more connected to a business after they follow them online. 

While social networking has become second nature to many, it’s important to remember that as a business, it is just a piece of the marketing puzzle. Standing on its own is not nearly as effective as integrating it into a larger plan.  


Donna Puglisi is public relations manager of Associated Builders and Contractors. For more information, email puglisi@abc.org, visit www.abc.org or follow @ABCNational