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9 myths about taking your biz online you need to stop believing

Why social media marketing is a legitimate and powerful tool for startups


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For most businesses having an online presence, including a website and social media, is a no brainer. Many are already using these powerful tools to not only increase their brand's online presence and to communicate with customers, but to also help with their sales efforts. 

However, not every business owner is converted. For those who remain skeptical about the power of online and social media we speak to Donovan White, a social media strategist at NATIVE VML, an award-winning full-service global digital marketing and advertising agency.

White, who has worked on major brands such as Nedbank, Pernod Ricard, Nestle, L’Oreal, and General Motors, helps us to clear up any remaining misconceptions and explains why what you put into your digital strategy is what you get out. 

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Donovan White

Myth 1: Being online makes your business a target for negative reviews and commentary
The reality: To me having a brand online means that you occupy the most important media – consumers' minds. In the digital age, you don’t have a brand if you are not online, because that is how you build yourself up. That doesn’t mean some people don’t know about your company. If they are having good experiences or bad ones, they are talking about your brand anyway. Why not join that conversation? 

Myth 2: My business doesn't have the capacity to put together and implement an online strategy 
The reality: The likes of Facebook and Twitter have made it real easy for business owners to start their social platforms up. With the likes of Facebook Blueprint and Twitter Flight School, the only tools that are a must are a laptop or mobile device and an internet connection. This can be done from anywhere.

What you put in is what you get out. If you are doing a large scale digital campaign, yes the intensity of managing the platforms increases, but if its day to day, one to two hours can be enough, depending on what you are doing online. It's a scale, just know what you want from your digital and social channels and you can plan accordingly.

Myth 3: Social media is more suited for personal use than for my business 
The reality: The two go hand in hand. Your personal brands can add credibility to the business and vice versa, BUT they should be able to stand on their own as well.

Often business owners see ‘online’ as a website, but there is an ecosystem of value they should provide – make the business searchable and social as well and try to go beyond the brochure-ware site. Content strategies are important.

Myth 4: A website and social media are not powerful enough to convert followers into customers
Reality: They most definitely can! If you have thought through the user journey, be it from banners or social media content, the brand needs a ‘home’ to drive consumers to – your website. The likes of Google Analytics or Sitecatalyst will be able to track where your traffic is coming from and who converted, allowing business owners to know where to focus their efforts more.  

Myth 5: We do not have the skills inhouse to execute digital campaigns
The Reality: There are many sites to help get the basics right. Look to the likes of Coursera, or even the social networks themselves, all offer educational assistance online.

Get your comms and strategy going first and then think about campaigns. If you have your content, media, sites and social up and running then you have opened new channels for business. More business means more money and you could then afford to hire someone that does this for you.

Myth 6: Traditional methods of marketing work better than online 
The reality: In my view there is no such thing as ‘traditional’ or ‘digital’, only integrated comms. We should never dismiss ’traditional’ methods, but rather the parts should work together. Digital creative should be aligned to ATL and traditional should drive call to actions (EG: Visit www.website.co.za for more or follow @BusinessOnTwitter for more). It's all done for the benefit of the consumer so they can communicate with the business in a manner that is most convenient for them.

Myth 7: Social media is only effective if your business is targeting young people
The reality: Digital technology is an industry in itself. Digital start-ups in Silicon Valley are being lead by 50 year olds and older. If you are in digital or online, then that’s the first sign that you mean business because you want to know your customer.

Myth 8. It's too expensive to get an online presence
The reality: It's all relative. It can be, depending on how big you want to go and the types of content, sites and media you want. If you want 360 Video on Facebook, complex e-Commerce sites and Rich Media display ads, then you will pay a whole lot more. You can make it work for your budget

Myth 9: A  website is enough
It again depends on your business. If you are running a toilet manufacturing business, consumers may not want to engage with you, but maybe a business will and there are business social platforms (like LinkedIn) and Google search terms to help with that. If you are a restaurant, consumers may want to connect with you more where they play, like Facebook, or search for your telephone number to make a reservation. So it does depend, but either way a website is definitely not enough and a clear digital strategy and an ecosystem of value is needed.

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