Social Media is largely misunderstood, particularly as it relates to business. There are three basic misunderstandings that lead to poor or non-existent social media results:

1. Bullhorn Marketing – A business approaches social media in the same way they have always approached traditional media: put some money behind a slogan and get it out to as many people as possible.

This fails because social media is first and foremost ‘social’. Even LinkedIn, the most business oriented platform of all, creates success when its members are building relationships. No social media platform works well as a billboard.

2. Entertainment Gone Wild – Many think of social media as a strangely addicting entertainment, filled with cats and laughing babies, that has somehow wormed its way into the business world.

While social media can, at times, appear to define words like absurd and banal, its awesome connecting power more than compensates for its shortcomings. The ability to reach out and interact with thousands, perhaps even millions, of people who share your interests and purpose cannot be brushed aside.

3. Fads Fade – “Social Media is nothing but a blip on the radar. It will be gone in an instant.”

Well…no. Social Media has fundamentally and forever altered the nature of human communication, creating the possibility of truly collective communication, co-generated content, the ability to tap into a global understanding (even a global consciousness). This isn't disco. It's not a strange dream that goes away once everyone recovers their good sense.

Fads do fade, but Social Media is no fad. It stays. In fact, communication can only become more connected, more immediate, more social from this point on. That might be a frightening prospect, but fear doesn't change reality.

It is precisely these misunderstandings that excite me about this field. We are on the cusp, the leading edge of something brand new in human experience. To be a part of that, helping businesses to recognize the value of this new communication space and how to put it to work is thrilling.

If you find yourself stumbling at social media for one of these reasons, or perhaps for some other reason entirely, know that you are one of a large majority who share your frustration. Social media is a new process that requires an approach entirely different from what has come before.

I invite you to share your experience, your concerns, your thoughts in the comments below. Perhaps together we can map these strange new waters. Indeed, there is no other way to do so.

Author's Bio: 

Robert Killen boasts a broad array of professional experience. From music and art to banking and non-profit management. In all cases, Robert has passionately pursued being a human of service.

As co-founder of Social Media By Numbers, Robert is helping business make their Social Media efforts authentic, constructive and easy.

Killen was a finalist in the 2007 World Championship of Public Speaking. He is passionately curious and an insatiable student. He is a loving husband and father of three boys. He enjoys painting, composing, writing and fly fishing in the Central Oregon Cascades.