Social Media is certainly the hottest thing in marketing since well, a few years ago when “Web 2.0” was.  But with all of this buzz, comes a tsunami of information.  So much information that not only is it hard to tell good from bad but so much information that many untruths become the rules.

There are an awful lot of myths roaming about in the vast endless void of cyberspace.  Here’s a quick list of some of the biggest you should avoid.  If you or your company are going along with these myths as truths, it’s time to change your paradigm around how your company is seeing Social Media’s marketing ability.

It’s Fast

Given the real-time nature of social media, one would think that it’s fast.  But it’s not.  The way that news and information travels is now at light speed, but social media marketing is slow.  Social media is obviously a social tool, but businesses and brands need to tread those waters lightly.  It takes a tremendous amount of time to build up the trust of your networks to become a valued member.  Make a commitment for the long haul.  Take the time and energy needed to develop trust with those in your networks. It takes time to create value.  That’s the most valuable thing a brand on social media can do.

It will Replace Marketing / Advertising

Despite what Internet marketers and even most social media marketers or “gurus” will advise, social media is not designed to take over your marketing or advertising.  Social media and marketing do not and cannot exist as separate business pieces.  Social media is one piece of the bigger marketing picture.  Its role is to complement what you are already doing in your business.  Use online channels to show the best of what you and your company does offline, online.

Social media may replace a section of your marketing that you have determined as low on ROI, like how Pepsi dropped their Super Bowl ads this year and replacing it with a  social media campaign.  But Pepsi is not dedicating their entire marketing to social media.  Complement and expand marketing efforts with social media, don’t replace them.

It Will Solves Our Sales Problems

Social Media is not a miracle worker.  It’s not the Mother Theresa for your sales.  If you sell a crappy low-value product, no amount of YouTube videos or Twitter followers, or strategy will fix that.  Social media can get you in front of a larger audience and new targets, but the people behind all those profile pics are not robots…they’re still, people and it still takes the same ole good product at a good value to sell to them.

It Will Exposes Our Problems

I used to work for an extremely large company that is a dominant player in an “old” and low-tech industry.  Management was terrified of social media tools because in their view it would be used for nothing more than a sounding board for all of our unhappy customers and everyone that hated our products.

And they were right.

But if you have droves of customers who are angry and unhappy…I have news for you…Those people are talking anyway.  They’re talking to their friends and many are probably talking about it online on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and forums.  So staying out of social media doesn’t keep you safe from bad exposure, it prevents you from fixing it.  What better opportunity to monitor and seek out unhappy customers, and then solve their issues.  Not only are you helping a customer, you’re now broadcasting to anyone else that you address issues.

The broadcasting of product or company problems on social media are going to happen with or without your involvement.  If you are not monitoring and staying out of the fight, you’ve left a tremendous opportunity for a competitor to take care of your customer’s issues for you.

It Works

Not everyone is a Gary V, or Zappos.  You can’t expect windfall profits and super amazing things to begin to rain from the sky…all from Social Media.  I will argue that almost every business can benefit from some level of social media activities, but you need to be realistic.

Set goals that apply to your business and you’re demographic.  I recently chatted with a business owner who was disappointed that 1,000 members haven’t flocked to a new network she created.  I asked where this 1,000 number came from?  How was this determined as the goal?  Was it based on local demographics, similar companies have seen those results, how was this goal selected?

Don’t expect great things from social media if your goals are set up so you’re guaranteed to fail.  You wouldn’t set first-month sales forecasts to reach $1 million dollars if you’ve never seen those numbers before.  Treat social media with the same thought and strategy as other parts of your business.

Social Media marketing can produce some powerful stuff…but do your homework, build a strategy, execute, analyze.