As with any major marketing strategy over the past decade, social media has had plenty of time to build up some big myths.
And despite the fact that data has broken a number of marketing myths today, some marketers will still hold onto some simply because it’s hard to keep up with what’s really going on with social media.
Yes, social media landscapes change dramatically every day. However, as a marketer, identifying myths against reality is important in order to develop an effective social media strategy.
To help you separate fact from fiction, I put on my MythBusters hat and launched some of the most common social media myths.
Let’s dive into some social media myths that we’ve probably all heard from coworkers or friends. Then I explain why you need to leave those old ways of thinking behind.
19 social media myths to leave behind in 2021
1. My customers are not on social media.
In 2021, over 3.7 billion people will be active on social media worldwide. Today there seems to be a social platform for everything and everyone. While family and friends connect on websites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, professionals network on LinkedIn.
Chances are at least one social media platform has an audience that aligns with your brand. Not sure which one is best for you? This blog post will tell you which social platforms are best for your brand – and which are probably not right for your needs.
2. You should join every single social media network immediately.
Just because I can name a lot of social networks doesn’t mean I should profile them all.
Be sure to research other social networks. Set up a company profile or company page and give them the old college try. But you may find that some are not really worth your time. If so, you should remove your profile and move on. You should only devote time and resources to the platforms that best suit your target audience and marketing tactics.
The best marketers use data to determine which marketing activities are producing the best results. If a social network doesn’t help you, cut them off.
3. Pinterest is only for B2C organizations.
Of course, Pinterest is absolutely fantastic for B2C marketers. But usually when someone says a channel is B2C only, the B2B marketer in me takes that as a challenge to prove it isn’t.
It turns out that some of my co-workers feel the same way because one of them wrote a complete guide to using Pinterest for business. You can also check out the accounts of brands like GE, Microsoft, Econsultancy and yours for real inspiration from B2B Pinterest!
4. You should only try to get fans and followers who become customers.
Quality matters, yes, but don’t underestimate the power of great social reach. Keep some of these points in mind the next time you complain about acquiring a fan or follower who lives outside of your sales territory or audience:
- More fans and followers mean you get access to their fans and followers.
- If they’re an influencer, association transmits their clout to you.
- When they share your content, your SEO will improve.
- You can still refer business your way.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also target a specific high-converting audience on your social channels. To find out your ideal audience on social media, read this post.
5. You should only schedule posts during the work week.
While you shouldn’t force your social media manager to work on the weekends, you can certainly schedule posts or run social media ads in advance on the weekends – and depending on your audience, this might be a good idea.
Of course, you need to determine when your audience is most likely to use certain social platforms. While pique social media engagement times occur around the middle of the week, most platforms also have high engagement times on the weekends and evenings.
6. You will have amazing social media engagements asking your friends and family if they like every post.
You can’t just have your mom and uncle like every post you’ve posted on Facebook. Although it feels like you’re seeing a lot of posts that your friends or family members like, Facebook and other social media algorithms are a little more sophisticated when it comes to determining which posts are being seen.
In order for social media feeds to give preference to your content, you need a large number of people to interact with your content – both to increase your reach and to appear in users’ newsfeeds.
Instead of just encouraging your friends or family members to like or love your posts, encourage your followers to like, comment or share to stimulate further discussion and spread your brand awareness.
7. You need to respond immediately to social activities.
There is no doubt that a quick response will be appreciated, but it is not always required. People understand that you are running a business. There are other things. If you get back on time, but not in a matter of seconds, that’s fine.
There are of course exceptions. For example, Verizon operates some Twitter accounts. One is @VerizonSupport. Verizon will post blog posts and marketing materials on this Twitter for educational purposes, but will also use them to respond to questions or concerns from prospects or customers.
Since Verizon’s support account is for customer service rather than marketing, employees who manage this channel should respond to inquiries immediately.
Another example could be if you have a social media account that receives a complaint that is public to all users and that could affect your credibility. In this scenario, you should contact your service team as soon as possible and write a thoughtful response that shows that you take the feedback seriously.
8. Social media is all about conversation – not sharing branded content.
It’s not that conversations aren’t important. You can’t just ignore your fans. While stimulating conversations and discussions with your audience is beneficial, it is not the only point for social media marketing.
Not only does social media allow you to connect with people virtually, but it’s also a lead generator, non-organic traffic tool, and a great place to share your best content.
When you post valuable posts, they may not always be conversational, but they can get people to your website and products.
9. Social media marketing tactics do not lead to bottom line results.
Piggybacking on the final myth, you can actually generate value that goes beyond “engagement” and “brand equity” on social media. Social media drives leads and customers, period.
Do not you believe me? Here are some stats you should know:
Ultimately, social media, especially through advertising or influencer marketing strategies, can be a viable opportunity to increase sales. (Just check my bank account every time I scroll through Instagram and “Swipe Up to Buy”.)
10. It looks difficult to be branded on social media.
The content you post on social media should always keep your target audience in mind. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t also post content that shows your brand’s personality. Or to be honest, even the personality of your community manager.
There are people behind your company. Don’t be afraid to show this with your own kind of humor, pictures of people who work in your company, and links to news content that you find especially entertaining … even if it’s not directly related to your industry.
11. Hashtags are essential to any post.
You know the tweets that look like this?
I love this article on #socialmedia #marketing that talks about #pinterest and has a picture of a #puppy #lol
The point of hashtags is that they pull common threads of conversation together. While it is nice to have a hashtag for an event like a webinar or a trade show, don’t lose your mind if it doesn’t become a trending topic. It won’t necessarily blow your Leads goal out of the water if it does. Think of hashtags as a way to be more user friendly for those who follow the hashtag, rather than a way to make all of your marketing dreams come true.
12. Social media monitoring takes forever.
A social media monitoring scenario: Stick your eyes to your computer screen, open five tabs for each of your social networks, chug three espressos, click between tabs, and hit refresh like a madman.
Alternative social media monitoring scenario: Use social media monitoring software that will notify you when important terms are mentioned. Make a quick check of your accounts every hour or two to see if you need to reply to someone, follow someone, etc.
This second lasts maybe 30 minutes a day in total. No big deal. All breathe. Everything will be fine.
13. Social media managers should be recent graduates or have years of experience.
This is not just a myth. It is actually an alteristic theory that should be abandoned completely – if it has not already been done.
Being good at social media marketing or any other job has absolutely nothing to do with how young or old you are. You can learn the tools and strategies at any age and also make mistakes at any age.
Look for a candidate who is both creative and analytical enough to manage your presence rather than considering the age range of a social media manager. This post will teach you more about how to hire the best social media manager for your brand.
14. Only young people use social media.
Do you think the only people on social media are Gen Z and Millennials? Think again
Keep this in mind: 40% of internet users ages 46-55 will be on LinkedIn by the end of 2020; Around 55% of Facebook users will be over 35 years old as of 2021. In 2019, over 80% of US Internet users aged 45 to 64 watched videos on YouTube.
Most likely, your audience (of any age!) Is on social media – the key is figuring out which one they prefer the most.
15. Newer platforms like Snapchat and TikTok are not worth taking seriously.
Snapchat and TikTok are both mobile social media apps that have attracted Millennials and Gen Z due to their unique platforms. While Snapchat thrives on short-lived content, AR filters, and Bitmoji features, TikTok highlights silly, funny, or musical 10- to 60-second videos that are similar to Vines.
Despite the fact that these platforms have weird user-created content on them, it doesn’t necessarily mean brands can’t use the apps to gain credibility and notoriety.
At this point, a variety of brands – from publishers to B2C companies – have created profiles or ads for TikTok. One of the most surprising and oldest brands developing a TikTok strategy is the Washington Post. Though the posting is very formal on social media on other platforms, they use TikTok to highlight the fun, yet human side of working in a newsroom.
Similarly, a number of larger companies have also launched paid promotions or long stories on Snapchat Discover. For more information on these companies and the content they launched, check out this blog post.
At this point, you can certainly take any popular social media platform seriously. However, as we found in debunking previous myths in this post, before investing the time and money developing a strategy for them, you should figure out which platforms will best suit your audience and goals.
16. You don’t have enough content to have a social media channel.
The thing about social media is that it goes very quickly. What is posted today could very well be forgotten tomorrow. It’s easy to think of that as a problem when you say, “I don’t have enough content to post.” Alternatively, you can just reuse content or re-share great content on a regular basis.
If the topic covered in your post is evergreen, it will almost always be useful, even if you use it again or publish it later. This doesn’t mean that you should share the same link and update the comment day in and day out. However, if a few weeks go by and you want to reapply something, give it a try. Just do your loyal fans a favor and find a new interesting nugget of information to pull up in your update.
17. Social media gives people the opportunity to publicly beat up your business.
The truth is, disgruntled customers already have many venues: word of mouth, Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and many other places on the internet where they can provide feedback if they are not satisfied. If you don’t create a Facebook Page for fear of negative feedback, you won’t be protected from angry anger.
Instead, go ahead of the conversation by being clear about when negative reviews are taking place, reading them, responding to the customer, and finding solutions to their problems. Additionally, when customers are happy, encourage them to share their positive stories.
18. Social media is too “fluffy” to have solid metrics.
Again, social media isn’t about the fluffy things we talked about before, like “brand equity” and “engaging conversation.”
Yes, these things happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t measure the effectiveness of your social media activities.
HubSpot marketing tools can help you determine exactly how much traffic social media is driving to your website, how many leads social media is generating, and how many of those leads will become customers.
From there, you can even calculate the average cost per lead per customer – across individual social media networks and overall – just like any other marketing channel (right?).
19. Social media is completely free marketing.
It’s free to join, but it’s still an investment in resources. Even if you post for free, you will likely have to pay a rep to manage your channels and develop strategies. And as your social media strategy becomes more successful, you can invest time and money.
Fortunately, social media is still one of the most cost-effective ways to increase audience, brand awareness and, ultimately, leads. So the investment is worth it.
Navigate social media marketing
Now that you’ve learned the falsehoods and myths behind social media, it is time to delve into the actual research-back tactics that could make your brand successful on a given network.
For more data to prove why you need a social media marketing strategy in 2021, check out this list of statistics. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing for tactical advice on various social media tactics and platforms.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 but updated in February 2021 for completeness and freshness.