Like any major marketing strategy of the past decade, social media has had plenty of time to accumulate some big myths.
And despite the fact that data has disproven a number of marketing myths today, some marketers will still hold onto a few, simply because it’s hard to keep up-to-date on what’s really going on with social media.
Yes, social media landscapes change dramatically every day. However, as a marketer, it’s important to identify myth from reality in order to create an effective social media strategy.
To help you separate fact from fiction, I put my MythBusters hat on and drudged up some of the most common social media myths out there.
Let’s dive into some social media myths we’ve all probably heard from colleagues or friends. Then, I’ll explain why you need to leave these old ways of thinking behind.
19 Social Media Myths to Leave Behind in 2021
1. My customers aren’t on social media.
In 2021, over 3.7 billion people worldwide are active on social media. Today, it seems like there’s a social platform for everything and everyone. While family and friends connect on sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, professionals are networking on LinkedIn.
Odds are, at least one social media platform has an audience that will align with your brand. Not sure which one is the best for you? Check out this blog post to explore which social platform(s) are best-suited for your brand — and which probably won’t work for your needs.
2. You should join every single social media network immediately.
Just because I can name a lot of social networks, it doesn’t mean I should set up a profile on all of them.
By all means, research other social networks. Set up a company profile or page and give ’em the old college try. But you may find that some aren’t really worth your time. If that’s the case, consider removing your profile and move on. You should only devote time and resources to the platforms that align most with your audience and marketing tactics.
The best marketers use data to identify which marketing activities yield the best results — if a social network isn’t helping you out, cut it loose.
3. Pinterest is only for B2C organizations.
Pinterest is totally awesome for B2C marketers, to be sure. But usually when someone says a channel is only for B2C, the B2B marketer in me takes that as a challenge to prove it’s not so.
Turns out some of my colleagues feel the same way, because one of them wrote an entire guide to using Pinterest for business. You can also check out the accounts of brands like GE, Microsoft, Econsultancy, and yours truly for some B2B Pinterest inspiration!
4. You should only try to get fans and followers that will become customers.
Quality is important, yes, but don’t underestimate the power of a large social reach. Remember some of these points next time you bemoan acquiring a fan or follower that lives outside of your sales territory or target demographic:
- More fans and followers means you’re gaining access to their fans and followers.
- If they’re an influencer, their clout transfers to you by association.
- When they share your content, your SEO improves.
- They may 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 figure out your ideal target audience on social media, check out 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 certainly can schedule posts or launch social media ads on the weekends ahead of time — and, depending on your audience, it might be a good idea.
Of course, you’ll need to identify when your audience uses certain social platforms the most. While pique social media engagement times occur around the middle of the week, most platforms also have high engagement times during the weekends and evenings as well.
6. You’ll have amazing social media engagement if you ask your friends and family “Like” every post.
You can’t just have your mom and uncle Like every post you put up on Facebook. Although it might feel like you see a lot of posts that your friends or family members like, Facebook and other social media algorithms are a bit more sophisticated than that when it comes to determining which posts get seen.
To get social media feeds to favor your content, you’ll need a variety of people interacting with your content — both to grow your reach, and to show up in users’ news feeds.
So, rather than encouraging just your friends or family members to Like or heart your posts, encourage your followers to Like, comment, or share to encourage further discussion and spread your brand awareness.
7. You have to respond to social activity immediately.
There’s no doubt a speedy response is appreciated, but it isn’t always required. People understand that you’re running a business. There are other things going on. If you get back in a timely manner, but not in mere seconds, it’s alright.
There are exceptions, of course. For instance, Verizon runs a few Twitter accounts. One is @VerizonSupport. While Verizon will share blog posts and educational marketing materials on this Twitter, it also uses it to respond to questions or concerns from prospects or customers.
Because Verizon’s support account is for customer service rather than marketing, reps who manage this channel should be responding immediately to inquiries.
Another example could be if you’re running a social media account that receives a complaint which is public to all users and could hurt your credibility. In that scenario, you should consult your service team as soon as possible and write a thoughtful reply that shows you’re taking the feedback seriously.
8. Social media is only about engaging conversation — and not a place to share branded content.
It’s not that conversations aren’t important. You can’t just ignore your fans. But, while it’s beneficial to stimulate conversations and discussions with your audience, it’s not the only point to social media marketing.
Aside from allowing you to virtually connect with people, social media is a lead generator, a non-organic traffic tool, and a great place to share your best content.
If you publish valuable posts, they might not always stimulate conversation, but they could lead people to your website and products.
9. Social media marketing tactics don’t drive bottom-line results.
Piggybacking off of the last myth, you can actually generate value beyond just “engagement” and “brand equity” from social media. Social media drives leads and customers, period.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few stats you should know:
- 54% of social browsers use social media to research products.
- Facebook ads are used by 70% of marketers, and there were 9 million active advertisers on the platform in Q2 2020.
- 83% of people use Instagram to discover new products and services and 87% said they took specific action, like making a purchase, after seeing product information.
- Answering a complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy by 25%.
- 54% of Gen Z and 49% of Millennials say social media is their preferred channel for ad influence.
- 79% of people say that user-generated content on social media significantly impacts their purchasing decisions.
Ultimately, particularly through advertising or influencer marketing strategies, social media can be a viable opportunity for increasing sales. (Just check my bank account every time I scroll Instagram and “Swipe Up to Buy”.)
10. It looks tacky to seem relatable as a brand on social media.
The content you publish on social media should always keep your target audience in mind — but that doesn’t mean you can’t also publish content that shows your brand’s personality. Or, frankly, even your community manager’s personality.
There are people behind your company; don’t be afraid to show that with your own special brand of humor, pictures of people that work at your company, and links to news content that you find particularly entertaining … even if it’s not directly related to your industry.
11. Hashtags are essential for every post.
You know those tweets that look like this?
Love this article on #socialmedia #marketing that talks about #pinterest and has an image of a #puppy #lol
The point of hashtags is that they join together common conversation threads. So while it’s 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’s not necessarily going to blow your leads goal out of the water if it does … think of hashtags as a way to be more user-friendly for those following the hashtag, not a way to make all your marketing dreams come true.
12. Social media monitoring takes forever.
One social media monitoring scenario: Glue 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 maniac.
Alternate social media monitoring scenario: Use social media monitoring software that alerts you when important terms are mentioned; check back to your accounts briefly every hour or two to see if you need to respond to anyone, follow someone back, etc.
That second one takes you, in aggregate, maybe 30 minutes a day. No big deal. Everybody breathe. Everything’s gonna be alright.
13. Social media managers should be new graduates or have years of experience.
This isn’t just a myth. It’s actually an ageist theory that should be completely abandoned — if it hasn’t been already.
Being good at social media marketing, or any job for that matter, has absolutely nothing to do with how young or old you are. You can learn the tools and strategies at any age, and make mistakes at any age, too.
Instead of considering a social media manager’s age range, look for the candidate who’s both creative and analytically-minded enough to manage your presence. To learn more about how to hire the best social media manager for your brand, check out this post.
14. Only young people use social media.
Think that the only people on social media are Gen Z and millennials? Think again.
Consider this: 40% of internet users age 46 to 55 are on LinkedIn by the end of 2020; roughly 55% of Facebook users are over the age of 35 as of 2021; and in 2019, over 80% of 45-64 year old U.S. internet users watched videos on YouTube.
More than likely, your audience (at any age!) is on social media — the key is figuring out which one they prefer the most.
15. Newer platforms, like Snapchat and TikTok, aren’t worth taking seriously.
Snapchat and TikTok are both mobile social media apps that have pulled in millennials and Gen Z due to their unique platforms. While Snapchat thrives on ephemeral content, AR filters, and Bitmoji features, TikTok highlights goofy, fun, or musical 10 to 60-second videos similar to Vines.
Despite the fact that these platforms pull in odd content created by users, it doesn’t necessarily mean that brands can’t use the apps to gain credibility and awareness.
At this point, a plethora of brands — from publishers to B2C companies — have created profiles or ads for TikTok. One of the most surprising and oldest brands to build a TikTok strategy is The Washington Post. Although the publication has a very formal social media presence on other platforms, they use TikTok to highlight the funny, yet human, side of working in a newsroom.
Similarly, a number of larger businesses have also launched paid promotions or long-form Stories on Snapchat Discover. To learn more about these companies and the content they’ve launched, check out this blog post.
At this point, you can certainly take any popular social media platform seriously. But, as we noted when debunking previous myths in this post, you should identify which platforms best match your audience and your goals before spending time and money to build a strategy for them.
16. You don’t have enough content to have a social media channel.
The thing with social media is that it moves really fast. What’s posted today might very well be forgotten about tomorrow. It’s easy to think of this as a problem by saying, “I don’t have enough content to post.” But, alternatively, you could just repurpose content or re-share great content regularly.
If the topic your post discusses is evergreen, it will almost always be useful, even if you repurpose or repost it later. This doesn’t mean you should share the exact same link and update commentary day after day, but if a few weeks go by and you want to re-promote something, go for it. Just do your loyal fans a favor and find a new interesting nugget of information to call out in your update.
17. Social media gives people a venue to publicly bash your company.
The truth is, angry customers already have plenty of venues: word of mouth, Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and many other places on the internet that will allow them to give feedback when they aren’t happy. Not creating a Facebook page simply for fear of negative feedback isn’t protecting you from an angry wrath.
Instead, get ahead of the conversation by being aware when negative reviews are taking place, reading them, responding to the customer, and coming up with solutions for their problems. Additionally, when customers are pleased, encourage them to share their positive stories.
18. Social media is too “fluffy” to have solid metrics around.
Again, social media isn’t about fluffy things we talked about earlier, like “brand equity” and “engaging conversation.”
Yes, those things happen, but it doesn’t mean you can’t measure the effectiveness of your social media activities.
With HubSpot marketing tools, you can identify exactly how much traffic social media drives to your website, how many leads social media generates, and how many of those leads become customers.
From there, you can even calculate things like the average cost-per-lead and customer — across individual social media networks, and in aggregate — just like you do with every other marketing channel (right?).
19. Social media is completely free marketing.
It’s free to join, but it’s still a resource investment. Even if you are posting for free, you’ll likely need to pay an employee to manage your channels and build strategies. And, as your social media strategy grows more successful, you might decide to up time and money investments.
Luckily, social media is still one of the most affordable ways to boost audiences, brand awareness, and ultimately leads. This makes the investment worth your while.
Navigating Social Media Marketing
Now that you’ve learned about the falsehoods and myths behind social media, it’s time to start looking at the actual research-back tactics that could make your brand successful on a given network.
For more data that backs why you need a social media marketing strategy in 2021, check out this list of stats. For tactical advice on various social media tactics and platforms, read our Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 but was updated in February 2021 for comprehensiveness and freshness.