10 Persistent Social Media Marketing Myths

by Brett Borders on June 2, 2010

Social media has broken out of the underground and into the mainstream. And while personal social media literacy rates are rapidly rising, awareness of how to use social media tools for business and marketing campaigns is still very murky.

Here are 10 of the most common myths I’ve had to untangle during my social media consulting gigs:

image credit: PaintChick

1. Social Media Marketing is Easy

Actually, social media marketing is a lot of hard work. You have to find, filter, create and share content constantly… schmooze smoother a social butterfly with 36 heads… and do lots of time-consuming favors for people. The pace of the social media world is like a busy bar or restaurant: fun to visit, but stressful and demanding to work in. If you’re not willing to constantly read, learn, solve technical puzzles and socialize with people – you’ll just be treading water and going nowhere.

2. Social Media Marketing Works Overnight

Actually, social media marketing usually takes months or years of persistent effort before you reach any kind of successful plateau. Your first dozen blog posts are probably gonly gonna get read by your mom, and you may get few comments or kudos. It might take you 6 months to crack 1000 Twitter followers, but once you get some moment… things start to spread exponentially. This blog only had 400 subscribers the first 6 months, but by 18 months it crossed 6,000 RSS subscribers. Social Media Rockstar now gets comments and new subscribers even when I don’t post on it. Don’t give up before the miracle happens!

3. Social Media Marketing is Free

Actually, social media marketing costs a lot of your time and/or money. You can do it yourself if you’re willing to spend hundreds of hours interacting with people and making chit chat, or you can save some time by hiring a consultant who has already put in the hours and can share shortcuts and personal connections. People who really know their social media are going to be busy and in-demand, and they’ll charge for their fleeting time accordingly.

4. Social Marketing Works Well for Any Type of Business

Actually, social media works best for certain types of products and services – and not-so-well for others. In Seth Godin’s excellent book Meatball Sundae, he explains the metaphor of the meatball being a boring / ordinary product – and the whipped cream and cherrry on top being “new media marketing.” So the combination of taking a meatball (i.e., lawn chairs or life insurance) and adding some social media toppings – (http://Twitter.com/AwesomeLifeInsurance) – isn’t got to be that appetizing or successful.

Social media marketing works best for remark-able products that are of great interest to heavy social media users (think: Facebook apps, Web hosting plans, 4g mobile phones, technology conferences). For more traditional products, and you can expect low-to-moderate interest unless you find a breakthrough and ultra-creative angle.

5. Social Marketing is Typically High ROI

Actually, most people and companies are remunerated quite poorly for all the hours they spend on Twitter or Facebook. Only a small elite make huge money from social media marketing. For many companies, it is usually wise invest a significant part of your web marketing budget in higher return-on-investment (ROI) tactics: SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay-per-click) marketing or CRO (conversion rate optimization) - and slowly supplement this main course with social media juice.

6. Social Marketing is Best Handled by the Intern

Actually, Social media is really easy to screw up. Who do you want to be the public voice of your brand: a hungover sorority girl intern, an outsourced guy in Uganda with satisfactory English skills, an mid-level marketing manager having a midlife crisis – or you, yourself? It’s quite easy to offend people and stir up an online reputation problem, damage your company brand, or make a costly mistake (i.e., picking the wrong wording for your company Facebook fan page, which can never be changed — or forgetting a password and locking yourself out of a key account .) A better option might be to get initial guidance from an experienced social media professional, and to let your intern or assistant follow their guidelines.

7. Great Content Sells Itself

Actually, great web content often laungishes about… unseen and unshared. Great films never win an award. Great bands are passed over by music industry exces. Total garbage makes the bestseller list, and it hits the Digg home page too. Social media is a popularity contest – probably even more than Hollywood is. It making relationships and paying attention to other people, so when the time is right, they’ll pay attention to you and your content. You should expect to make a lot of friends and do a lot of favors for them, first…. before they’ll be willing to check out your stuff.

8. Social Marketing is the Hottest New Trend

Actually, the “golden era” of social media marketing was from 2006 to 2008. Audiences were far less jaded and self-proclaimed experts were few. Starting around 2009, exponentially more people (like myself) started to blog and tweet about social media – making it expoenentially more difficult to stand out. Now social media users’ brains and eyeballs are quickly becoming jaded and fatigued. Only the best of the best content, and most charismatic (or narcissistic) personalities can crack through all the “me too” the noise and rise to the top.

9. Setting Up a Blog / Facebook Page / Twitter widget = Effective Social Media Strategy

Actually, it won’t do much of anything without something to say to the world. Having a Twitter profile or Facebook fan page is like having a cell phone. Everyone has one, and you having one too isn’t going to make special or popular. You are required to be an interesting conversationalist. Social media is about making connections with real people, which usually takes intensive real human interaction and TLC. Don’t believe that slapping a Twitter widget at the bottom of your company web page is a “social media strategy.” A blog or social media button is just a basic tool, and if you believe it’s going to get you popularity and trafic without ongoing effort – you’re a social media “tool,” also.

10. Social Media Buzz = Sales and Income

Actually, social media is a very indirect form of marketing. Most people who visit your websites or social media profiles will never buy your products, check out your services or click on your ads. People are naturally self-centered, especially when they’re surfing the web. Most of the people you make a connect with will eventually drop you as a friend or forget about you – but a small number of the people will loyally return, pay attention, comment… and even fewer will buy your stuff. The best you can do is search out niches where you can get better targeted traffic and raise the quantity (of new content and promotional efforts) so your-1%-of-visitors-who-become-buyers adds up to a bigger bottom line.

Did I leave any out common social media myths? Please add to this list in the comments below!

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Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.

  • http://www.christycorrell.com Christy Correll

    Actually, my parents don’t read any of my blogs *sigh* …

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    My mom sometimes checks this blog via the web, and my Dad..subscribes to http://onlinereputationedge.com via e-mail . Thanks, guys!

  • http://mediafunnel.com Derek

    Thanks for bursting everyone’s bubble, Brett… haha

    You make some great observations here – my fave: “great content often languishes about unseen” It really is about who knows you, who knows your content/product/service, and not about how great you think it is.

    Cheers!

  • http://newraycom.blogspot.com Ray Hiltz

    I read this right after reading your post: 12 Things that Suck About Social Media Consulting and thought that perhaps you were giving a “scared straight” talk to anyone who is even thinking about getting into the Social Media “Business”.

    Admittedly, it gave me much to reflect on as I continue down the yellow brick road.
    Upon reading this, I’m starting to believe that you could be the man behind the curtain.

    Having had a career in the arts, I know the difference between having a passion and working one. Those that are seduced by the glamour, soon drop off as they encounter rejection, low pay and long stretches of unemployment. No doubt the same will happen with so-called social media experts.

    Great posts. Thanks.

  • http://oneclicklabs.com/427/10-persistent-social-media-marketing-myths/ 10 Persistent Social Media Marketing Myths | One Click Marketing Labs

    [...] Actually, most people and companies are remunerated quite poorly for all the hours they spend on Twitter or Facebook. Social media is a sexy “sounding” but often modest-result-producing form of marketing. … a significant part of your web marketing budget in higher return-on-investment (ROI) tactics: SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay-per-click) marketing or CRO (conversion rate optimization) – and slowly supplement this main course with social media juice. … Social Media Rockstar – http://socialmediarockstar.com/ Go to Source [...]

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Derek,

    It’s all about who you know. That aspect of social media can be really exausting.

    I’m not trying to be negative and pessimistic.. but when I work with companies and individuals… there are a lot of myths and misconceptions people have – that I have to work to tactfully break.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Ray,

    I hope I didn’t come across too hard or cynical. It’s just a really tough game to play and get good results consistently. It takes a lot of dedication and time. I think many companies wildly underestimate how much it will take out of them…

  • Anonymous

    The universality of Social Networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn has given rise to the personal brand, which compels us all to be good writers, whether we like it or not.

    Social “Media” is aptly named, and is itself a myth, if self ordained by “specialists” or supposed gurus. With the universal popularity of FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and to a lesser degree some other sites, we have all become writers/journalists/media, have we not? It is probably the biggest myth of all that this is relegated to a top tier of “experts” and then the rest of us. I think that the evolution and popularity of social networking sites has simply made us all content writers.

    For it is the written word that governs the Search Engines, it is the words we type in the comment sections, and the words we search for with almighty God (gOOgle) that control our so called Personal Brand. With the rise of the personal brand, rises the need to control or personally manage that brand. To manage that brand, we must provide content, and we are therefore stuck having to deliver good quality content, or miss out opportunity for sales by default to the competitor.

    Thus, it is the Universality of the Social Networking sites that gave rise to Social Media. I personally believe that about the time most of the Fortune 1000 Corps and about half of small businesses get into this, and recession winds down, the next wave of Social Media presentation will be in Mobile Video applications over mobile phones. We have to remind ourselves, Brett, that this current wave is basically evolving, because setting up profiles and getting the individual employees to create profiles is so popular b/c we are in a recession, and the companies only have to pay an hour or two of wages to these employees to “compell” them to set up some content. Had there been no recession, we might not even be having this discussion.
    And as 3G Mobile gains to 92% saturation rate over the next two years, we will see a shift to surfing from our laptops, to surfing from our phones, which will play havoc on the current model. The internet, constantly evolving is about anticipating the next big wave, and getting on board early. ( As you say, 2006, not 2010 ).

    The overlapping areas of commonality where like ideas, interests, research, and links join is where connections are made. Setting up profiles does no more good than starting a blog, and petering out, as you indicate. Real participation is key to long term survival. Budgeting time, disciplined writing, cross editing blogs, not getting addicted to Twitter or FB, all come into play in establishing a healthy social media precense. Without a plan, many of these companies will simply fall victim to their own poor business accumen whether myth or not.

    So this brings me to the myth: Social Media, or Personal Branding, or Social Networking is and can be an internet experience isolated from the cubicle. It is not. If we do not put ourselves into the process, if you do not walk away from my blog entry or my comment without getting a feel for the kind of thinker I am, without getting to know me, then the whole excersize is futile. Having 500 social media content providers online making FB pages does a company no good if no real connections are made. We hear these stories about how a lady in Manhatten got her shoes warranteed b/c the factory saw her complaint on Twitter?? Big Deal! Is that all we can say about social media results?? If there are no real human connections at the end of the day that a Media Manager can point to, and say, Employee A, made contact with Customer Z and they are now friends, acquaintences and do business together, and have forged a true human bond with one another…? If that can’t be said at the end of the day, then what good does social media do either company or customer?

    Enough out of me, I like to vent. You got me thinking. Great Writing, I might add it to my wall on Twitter. Can you get rid of those two typos? My wall on Twitter is all about free tips, and good writing, and I appreciate you. I tweet at WorldsBest Tips

    Lonny Dunn Editor/Author

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Lonny,

    Thanks for your thoughts… Which two typos should be fixed?

  • http://2012prophecy.net DM I.M.Cango

    That was a downer article. I’m now going back to bed.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    I’m sorry to depress…! I just run into these misconceptions time and time again when working and talking with people… and it takes a lot of time to untangle them.

  • http://www.CoachingYourDreams.com Greta Jaeger

    good stuff thanks for sharing :-)

    Greta

  • http://www.greggmorris.com/curated-stories-june-3-2010 Storytelling Social Media Marketing PR Business & Technology Curated Stories June 3, 2010

    [...] 10 Persistent Social Media Marketing Myths Published: June 2, 2010 Source: Social Media Rockstar Social media has broken out of the underground and into the mainstream. And while personal social media literacy rates are rapidly rising, awareness of how to use social media tools for business and marketing… [...]

  • http://blog.ubervu.com Alexandra Cojocaru

    I really liked the part where you said: Social media is a popularity contest – probably even more than Hollywood is. So true! Sometimes I find it hard to promote my own content, it’s like saying ‘hey, look, I wrote a great piece’, but if you don’t do it, nobody is gonna notice. You gotta be a little narcissist in social media. :)

  • Anonymous

    Good post. Very informative. A Social Media initiative has to be maintained. Setting it up is just the first step.

    Twitter: htttp://www.twitter.com/StrategicGen
    Website: htttp://www.StrategicGeneration.com

  • http://martinbaena.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/myth-busting-social-media-marketing/ Myth-busting Social Media Marketing « HAND CRAFTED CINEMA

    [...] Read the whole list here. Filed under: cinema   |  Leave a Comment Tags: facebook, myth-busting, social marketing, Social Media Marketing myths, twitter [...]

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Alexandra,

    I HATE “banging my own drum” and asking people to check stuff but, but social media has taught me how to do – sink or swim :)

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Sorry to depress ya. I’ve found that doing social media work involves coaching people gently over these hurdles and misconceptions. I run into them time and time again, and it gets depressing.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    cheers, thanks!

    -Brett

  • Anonymous

    Second Myth:  gonly gonna

    also same myth change  moment to momentum

    Seventh Myth: It making relationships and paying attention to other people, so when the time is right, they’ll pay attention to you and your content   I think needs to be rewritten, IMHO.  I think a sentence needs to make sense as a stand alone entity, even if extracted from the whole…In this case, I might be missing something… 

    Fourth Myth:   i looked up remark-able as a hyphenated word, and couldn’t find it.

    Myth 8, I think there should be a comma after “me too” or a slight rephrase

    Myth 9.  You and I both have the Mark Twainian proclivity to type like we speak, and for us in an eMail or Sales Letter, or even web page, that works for us.  I also have the Journalists/Editors bad habit of dropping my articles ( a, the, an )  and assuming the copy reviewers will pick them  up….   But there is this pet peeve ( not of mine, I like colloquialisms, and personal style ) of not using don’t for do not, and won’t for would not …That type of thing…This identifies you and I as amateurs to the snobbish crowd at LinkedIn or the kids who got straight A’s in English, and grew up to be jerks.

    LOL

    I hate to point these out AFTER it went to print, brother.  I feel so bad bringing them up. 

    ________________________________

  • http://blog.ubervu.com Alexandra Cojocaru

    True story! :)

  • http://billbyrne.expertsandinsiders.com/ [email protected]

    Hey Brett,

    Derek Markham turned me onto this. I’ve tried multiple times to get similar points across using my two blogs in regards to social media and public relations in general.

    Thanks for continuing the fight.

  • http://blogjungle.co.uk/blogging/blog-marketing-miracles-how-to-bring-sales-to-your-business-through-a-weblog BlogJungle

    Blog Marketing Miracles: How To Bring Sales To Your Business Through A Weblog…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)

  • http://www.careeradvisor.in/2010/06/business-school-through-design/ Career Advisor

    Business School, Through Design…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)

  • http://www.47hats.com/2010/06/microisv-digest-06092010/ MicroISV Digest – 06/09/2010

    [...] 10 Persistent Social Media Marketing Myths – a very good read. [...]

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    glad you enjoyed!

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant post! It comes handy when explaining clients the whys, dos and donts of social media. In my country, a massive number of companies are growing interested in having twitter, facebook and youtube accounts, even without knowing what they are. (I’m serious)
    Then again, educating clients it’s part of the gig right?
    Thanks for Sharing

  • http://sssourabh.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/a-complex-shopping-trip-the-challenges-of-consumer-behavior/ A Complex Shopping Trip: The Challenges of Consumer Behavior « Food, Fashion & Frameworks

    [...] or are they tweeting a different and perhaps misleading tune? Moreover, there are several myths around social media, including things like its ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and new-ness, all of which are rather [...]

  • MBT SHOES

    thank you for your kind

  • http://www.searchengineoptimisation.com/social-media.html Jack

    All of the points raised in this blog are entirely accurate. It’s so important to explain to clients about the benefits of properly thought-out, long term social media. The ROI from social media can be impressive if properly harnessed through a clever campaign.

  • JustinAtSmile.ly

    Nice post Brett. I especially agree with 1,2 and 6. Social Media is a powerful tool that requires serious dedication and effort. People are often disappointed by the lack of immediate results from social media marketing. However, it’s important to remain persistent because strong ROI is at the end of the tunnel.

    Justin

  • http://www.twitter.com/MrMattAnderson Mr Matt Anderson

    The intern remark and “we have a Twitter profile so we do social media” are common. People have to face up to the fact that social media (like networking) takes time and if they are unwilling to invest, they are probably better off not doing it at all.

  • http://www.webdesignproposaltemplate.com/ GeorgeG @ Web Design Proposal

    Brett,

    Really good post….”don’t give up before the miracle happens”…..amen to that!

    I like your style of writing – it’s simple yet compelling and a bit quirky.

  • Anonymous

    I had fun reading your post; it’s very witty and hit the target with an ouch factor. A lot of businesses think that social media is just going out there and shout all the stuff they have inside their heads. It’s a major turn off though. I love the analogy you put, where social media is like hanging out or working in a a bar. It’s like trying to get to know everyone worth knowing and if you’re the new guy, you have to make that initiative to say ‘hello’. If ever someone would ask if he can have thousands of followers overnight, I’d be happy to point that person to your blog. Many Thanks!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Thanks for the comments, Garious. I agree that the burden is on the new guy to say “hello!” and it can be very exhausting at times!

    -Brett

  • http://www.lifewithsocialmedia.com Anna Manasova

    So true. I just started a new blog myself and it’s difficult to keep reminding myself that everybody started out with only a few subscribers and even fewer comments. Thanks for sharing, Brett.

  • http://automatedsocialnetworking.com Robert Portman

    Social media marketing is really easy and you can work with it in free. It is also the best solution for any business tragedy. I’m glad that there are still several people believe with the power social media marketing.

  • http://digitaladagency.com/ DigitalAdAgency

    Add this; treat every day like it’s election day

  • http://www.slovakcooking.com lubos

    Hi Brett, just wanted to say you have a great site here. I found it through the link on 42nd Street pointing to your “graffiti” comments write up.

    I definitely agree with your points. Regarding #9, I set up the Twitter plugin on my site to automatically tweet new posts (@slovakcooking). Then Twitter changed their authentication method, and the plugin stopped working. This was actually unforeseen good omen. It forced me to actually get involved in Twitter, and start using it for what it was meant -a way to interact with other people, and not some bulletin board onto which you just staple your 140 character announcements without stopping by to read the others. My twitter follower count has been steadily increasing since then, and I finally realized what the whole buzz about Twitter has been all about.

  • http://www.farmerseo.com Greg Uhrlen

    Brett, #6 nails it head for me. (Social Marketing is Best Handled by the Intern). There is this myth that anyone under the age of 25 is a Social Media expert. Owning an iPhone and having a Facebook page does not make one a guru. We attended a conference recently and a question was posed as to whom in the room was tasked with Social Media duties in their office. Nearly every hand that went up was probably under 30. These people were then asked why they were attending the conference. To a person, the general response was, “to learn how to do Social Media, I have no idea what to do!”.

    This goes back to a lack of business skills being integrated with certain disciplines in colleges, universities and (where I think it should really start) high schools.

  • http://griyamobilkita.webs.com sewa mobil

    Nice article, thanks for the information.

  • http://www.myscratchoff.com Brian P

    I believe social media is the hardest. At least when it comes to banner advertisements. I have not have any luck so far!

  • http://www.sitevisibility.co.uk Graeme Benstead-Hume

    Hey Brett, Great post, I am in two minds about point 4. Although some social media tactics work better for ‘sexy’ brands I would suggest that the key to social media, building a community around your service / product can be successful for any brand. Using social sites / tools to find your audience, to listen to their needs and to participate in those communities is, as you say, hard work, but as long as their are people out their eating and enjoying your / Godin’s Meatballs there will be an audience to build a relationship with.

  • http://share-tips-free-trial.blogspot.com/ share tips

    Great Post !!!
    As a Internet Marketing company we have been pushing social media marketing to our clients and it has really paid off. Both for us and also them. This article is great as I love numbers and statistics.
    Keep up the great articles & take care.

  • http://kercommunications.com/social-media-experts/ So Now Everyone Thinks They Are Social Media Experts?

    [...] are a lot of myths about social media and a lot of people who would like to perpetuate some of them. Local search engine marketing [...]

  • http://www.G2Apex.com Alexander Welz

    Your article is 100% correct. I learned everything you talk about through trial and error. Mostly error. I wish I had seen this article years ago. It would have saved me a lot of time.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    It’s a tricky business to figure out!

  • http://blog.zoomlabs.es/2011/03/5-mitos-sobre-el-social-media-marketing/ 5 mitos sobre el Social Media Marketing | Zoomoteca

    [...] Las posibilidades de los social media son, cada vez más, conocidas por todas las ramas de la actividad profesional, sin embargo lo difícil viene a la hora de implementar una estrategia de Social Media Marketing, cuando las dudas y las incógnitas nos asaltan ante lo desconocido, cuando prevalecen las leyendas urbanas en temas que no controlamos, por eso hoy os acercamos 5 mitos  sobre la estrategia de marketing en plataformas sociales que hemos traducido y acercado en sus cuestiones más interesantes de Social Media Rockstar. [...]

  • http://hyphos.com Sraj

    Very interesting read!

  • http://davidfenwick.myopenid.com/ DavidFenwick

    A very eloquent and clear-headed deconstruction of the myths around social media marketing. It’s hard work and takes a long time!

  • http://mattrhysdavies.com Matt Rhys-Davies

    A really good post. Do you get frustrated with the sheer number of chancers in your industry? Having dealt with a number of social media agencies (all London based), there are a few who know their stuff inside out, but the vast majority of them just do a sales pitch littered with keywords and that’s it. They generally don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when pushed.

    Anyhow, great post!

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • Soulcreates

    I have noticed 10 months on and the typos still are not fixed. Plus you missed one Lonnydunn… Myth 8, line 4 expoenentially should be exponentially:)

    One suggestion Brett turn on your spellchecker to avoid the non-word type of spelling error.

  • http://twitter.com/malaysianextweb malaysianextweb

    you really give a good point about it. and FYI meeting people online is still not the same as meeting people in the real world. so the sense of balance must be there.

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  • http://juliennejones.com/ Julienne Jones

    Hi Brett! I recently produced a video about the importance of social media in the corporate world. It’s a satirical rap video with the undertones that one of the demographics most engaged by social media is the young generation.
    http://vimeo.com/22815302
    great work!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    cool!

  • Internetiturundus

    I like the way you write but about the 2nd myth. It might or it might not happen, it depends how good is the post, what it contains and what can you offer to readers. If you put out some games or something really interesting that would get peoples attention then you can achieve more followers in less time. Altough you need some friends to share and be active too in first days.