5 Things I Thought I Knew About Social Media (…But Really, Didn’t)

5 Things I Thought I Knew About Social Media (…But Really, Didn’t) Annalise VanHouten Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

I’ve been working at Simply Measured for a few months now, and I started thinking about how much my understanding of “what social media means” has changed in such a short time. I thought I knew quite a bit but I was wrong.

Here are five key things that I’ve learned about social media – and digital marketing in general – over the last few months.

1.   The obvious: I thought I knew all about social media.

I’m a “Millennial” so I should know everything there is to know about social media, right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

There’s a common misconception that because I’m young, I’m supposed to get it. Full confession time: I’m 27 and already feel behind.  It doesn’t help that my background is in book publishing, so as much as I understand the importance of social media in marketing a brand, it’s still been quite the learning curve.

2. The difference between “simple” and “doing something simply.”

Simple is awesome! It’s also inherently complicated. When formulating a social media strategy for your brand, you don’t want your content or your methods of tracking to be too broad. There are tons of potential metrics to measure, so it’s easy to think that less (focusing on basic level data like keyword monitoring only, for example) is more. In order to track in-depth analytics about how you’re performing and how to improve, you’ve got to up the ante. The trick is focusing on the complete picture across multiple channels, taking into account your owned and earned activity – and finding a way to get it all simply.

3. Social nuances are as perplexing as ever.

How many times have you or family/friends threatened to deactivate an account on a network because “it is taking over their LIFE?” On a whole other level, I was unaware of the nuances of these major networks from a business and marketing standpoint. Many companies, especially those with a serious, exclusively professional focus (like the financial and pharmaceutical fields) tend to shy away from Facebook or Twitter and focus more on sites like LinkedIn and Google+. Why is that? What is it that helps these industries find more success in one place than another?

4.  There’s no real expert, so learn from everyone.

Sure, in the social media world, there are companies that know more about certain aspects of the industry than others. Simply Measured knows about measurement and reporting, for example. That’s what we do, and it’s something we’re really good at. But we don’t claim to know everything about the social media landscape, and it’s becoming more apparent with the customers I talk to that the social media world is one of those unique places where we’re all in conversation with each other. I learn something from every conversation I have with a marketer, and hopefully they learn something from me. I think it’s important to understand and respect the fact that we’re all navigating this ever-changing industry together, and we’ve all got a lot of room to grow.

5. Excitement – it’s real and it’s crazy contagious.

Working in publishing, we were all super in love with books.  However, the levels of passion differed depending on the type of book and the audience we were selling it to. If I was trying to advocate on behalf of a tearjerker young adult drama to a buyer who only read Faulkner (or worse, didn’t actually like to read at all), the excitement level waned a bit.

Social media, though – woah. Never before have I been in an environment where everyone cares so much about the impact of the industry. It’s easy to talk to people here because we all share the genuine belief that the tool we provide is purposeful. We are here because we are trying to make people better at their jobs and more capable of understanding social media as a whole, because these days, there’s no one who doesn’t get touched by it in some way.  It’s affecting everyone and will continue to do so in myriad ways in the years to come.

It’s exciting beyond belief, and it feels pretty cool to be on the frontline, watching as it all unfolds.

Annalise VanHouten

My job is to help marketers identify needs and spread the social media analytics love. There's nothing I love more than talking to people about something I'm excited about, and I'm lucky enough to get to do it every day!