Here’s a great piece from by B.L. Ochman who writes the Whatsnextblog on Six Myths of Social Media Marketing. She’s really on point with what we’ve found to be common misunderstandings of SMM. I think her reference numbers on costs are a bit high, at least for our industry, but I can see how they would apply to broader CPG categories. I’ve edited my post at her request and suggest you go to Business Week to read the whole piece. In case you don’t want to read the original article, here is my summary of the key takeaways:

-SMM isn’t an option, it’s a required marketing tool.
-SMM requires funding, it can’t be a budget footnote
-SMM can have immediate results, but takes time to deliver real value.
-Building traffic has to be a core component…it won’t happen on its own
-Monitor, measure, manage…SMM without a rigorous and informed analysis and reporting component is not only wasteful, it tells your visitors you’re not listening.

And one point not mentioned in this piece is the importance and utility of new software to monitor, measure and manage. It’s not cheap, averaging about $2,000/month for user access, but extraordinarily useful for getting maximum use out of a SMM program. You can get by in a very tightly defined marketplace with a limited number of sites in the conversation…but once you get above 50 or 60 sites, it becomes impossible to monitor them all “by hand.”

For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.

But before you take the plunge, bear in mind the many myths that surround social media.

1. Social media is cheap, if not free. Yes, many of the tools that can be employed in social media marketing are free to use. However, integrating these tools into a corporate marketing program requires skill, time, and money. The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months.

Building a site that incorporates interactivity, allows user-generated content, and perhaps also includes e-commerce doesn’t come cheap from anyone who knows what they are doing. That takes skill, experience, and money.

As a rule, a $50,000 to $100,000 budget can cover the creation of a simple multimedia microsite that becomes the center of an online community. Add in some widgets to help distribute the content and form a credible group on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook and other networking groups to enhance the community aspect of the campaign.

A high-yield, highly targeted blog advertising campaign to kick off and support the program will cost an additional $25,000 to $100,000 a month. Advertising through Google’s AdWords, e-mail support, co-registration, and other tools that drive traffic would be additional costs.

2. Anyone can do it. A surfeit of whiz kids and more experienced marketers are claiming to be social media experts and even social media gurus.

A successful social media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital, and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience, and the best social media marketers now have…experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content, and contests into online marketing (Ed. Note: and SEO and search marketing expertise)

Video contests by companies hoping for viral buzz and Google juice are as plentiful as mosquitoes on a humid summer night. But, like their insect counterparts, most video contests suck.

3. You can make a big splash in a short time. Sure, sometimes a social media campaign can produce substantial and measurable results quickly.

Social media is great if you’re already a star, but that doesn’t happen overnight….

ZapposChief Executive Tony Hsieh, whose company has millions of customers who are evangelists for the great service that built the brand, quickly became a Twitter star, with more than 32,000 followers. When Dell, JetBlue Airways, the Chicago Bulls, and other love-’em-or-hate-’em brands joined Twitter, they immediately developed huge followings.

4. You can do it all in-house. Wrong! You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience—a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools.

5. If you do something great, people will find it. Quite simply, that never was true. Until you can drive traffic to your social media effort, you’ve got a tree falling in the forest, heard only by those standing nearby. A great number of tools can drive traffic, including StumbleUpon, Digg, and Twitter, but nothing works better than word of mouse—one friend telling another, “Hey look at this!”

6. You can’t measure social media marketing results. You can use a variety of methods, including mentions on blogs and in media; comments on the content; real-time blog advertising results, and click-throughs to your company Web site. You can get very precise statistics from a variety of sites, including Google Analytics among others. (Ed note: add in a skilled,experienced resource that can analyze and interpret those numbers and you have an extremely powerful real time, behavior based market research tool.)

And I’d add a post script quote from Will Rogers…”It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.”