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3 All-Too-Common Social Media Marketing Myths

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While working on my presentation on improving social media marketing for this week's FREE virtual conference, Digital Marketing World: Smarter Marketer, I couldn't help think about some common social media marketing myths that really, well, drive me crazy.

Before anyone focuses on improving their efforts, they need to get a few things out of the way (or out of their minds). In no particular order, here are 3 all-too-common social media marketing myths that must be dispelled. Now.

1. "Everyone Needs Social Media Marketing."

Social media marketing is the golden child of marketing today. It's sexy, it's fun, and everyone---from enterprise organizations to small businesses---thinks that they need to add it to their marketing mix.

But you know what? That's not quite the case.

Before you invest more resources into social media marketing, ask yourself these 4 critical questions.

  • Does my target audience use social media networks? Can I reach them there?

  • Do I have competing, higher-ROI priorities that can potentially drive better results more efficiently?

  • Will it help me achieve my goals?

  • Do I have enough time to invest to do a worthwhile job? (Good social media marketing is time-consuming!)

If you answered "no" or "not sure" to any of the above questions, please take some time to reconsider your social media marketing investment.

2. "Social Media Marketing Is Easy."

Effective social media marketing isn't easy, but it is rewarding. Just because you acquired 500 Facebook friends without lifting a finger and your little sister is on Twitter, doesn't mean you can drive real, measurable business results with social media marketing.

You need:

  • A good strategy

  • An educated team

  • Monitoring and measurement tools in place

  • Adequate time and resources

  • To stay on top of industry trends

3. "The Intern Can Do It!"

You wouldn't hire an intern or entry-level marketer to be your customer relations or public relations manager, would you? Of course not. You'd hire someone with experience in customer service,  strategy, and communications. Please don't let the most inexperienced employee in your organization be the voice of your brand. They can assist, for sure, with proper training, but give them a few years before they start communicating to the public on behalf of your brand.

Now, it's your turn. What's one common social media marketing myth you'd like to dispel?

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  • by Michael Perla Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    Good piece. Agree w/ all of the myths - two areas that resonated for me are (1) the target audience question and (2) can it drive tangible, measureable results.

    Another myth is that social media can be disconnected from the overall makerting plan or strategy ... social media marketing should be one part (if deemed appropriate) of an integrated mix that is executed over time, place, channel, etc.

  • by Srinivas Rao Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog


    You've brought up some really spot on points here. I think point #3 especially is key. I've seen so many unpaid internship opportunities for social media interns on craigslist. The value of this is really questionable because there's nothing at stake for either party. For an intern, losing an unpaid internship would be meaningless, and if the company puts nothing on the line they've lost nothing either. I know that some people will try to say that these internship are a "learning experience", but if nothing is at stake, then neither party has anything to lose or gain.

  • by Edgar Diaz Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    The one myth i would like to dispell is the "more followers the better"....yes, volume is good, but not necessarily better, what you really need is true customers following and interacting with you, those 2,000 followers that don't even speak english are just of no use, so you shouldn't always be proud of having thousands of followers.

  • by Justin Kozuch Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    Another myth is that social media is free, which is a terrible mindset to promote. It takes time; time to develop a strategy, time to hire the right people for the job (assuming that's the case), as well as time to get stakeholders in line. I could go on, but suffice to say that social media isn't free. It's expensive, and not just from a monetary perspective.

  • by Rory Fincham Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    While overall I agree with your positions, I might state that the first point is slightly off. Everyone should take advantage of social media, the question they need to ask themselves is how proactive they can afford in leau of their marketing priorities. The conversation is there regardless of wether or not you are in the room, by at least tapping into social media you can be reactive and follow the conversations that are being had at your reputation's expense. Don't get me wrong it isn't the golden goose as some would suggest but it is an essential tool in PR world nowadays and should not be dismissed, it's how proactively you market yourself or your brand with said tools that you need to be determining.

  • by Tonya Goldbach Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    Another myth I often hear is that it's cheap/free. While joining most mainstream social media sites is generally free, the investment in the time, learning, and often reporting, costs in the long run. Sure, anyone can set up a site, but properly marketing and maintaining takes time and knowledge - and that doesnt always come cheap.

  • by Beth Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    "You wouldn’t hire an intern or entry-level marketer to be your customer relations or public relations manager, would you?"

    Ha! Most employers would around here! I'm getting passed over for these kind of jobs all the time now just to find out that a recent college grad got the job. My 5-10 years of experience means nothing to them.

  • by Julia Stewart Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    Hi Megan -- I can't decide which myth is my favorite! Edgar is on point -- followers and engagement aren't the same thing. As is Justin -- social media isn't free, it takes a significant commitment. I'll propose another myth, "social media replaces all your other efforts." My mantra is "strategy, then tactics" -- social media must make sense for your business and goals, and don't throw out the other tools in your toolbox.

  • by Monica Sims Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    I'm going to jump in here and agree with all of the above comments and add a bit to each of your points, Megan.

    1. “Everyone Needs Social Media Marketing.”
    Start by listening and observing. Find your audience. They may be present on the big networks, but not active. Find out where they are active and center your efforts there.

    2. “Social Media Marketing Is Easy.”
    You also need the time and energy to stay ahead of the curve. Your social media team needs to understand the trends, follow the right people, listen to what they are saying and put the information into practice.

    3. “The Intern Can Do It!”
    Companies need to be fully engaged and invested in a social media strategy. If they aren't then they won't realize the full potential and it won't be a profitable channel.

    Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with Edgar. Number of followers means nothing if those people are not engaged with your brand. On Twitter, you need followers who RT and comment on your posts, have true back-and-forth conversations. On Facebook, you want people who not only "like" your brand, but also comment on your posts, post on your wall, INTERACT. That's what social media is about -- the interactions.

  • by Chad Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    I like your list but I would disagree with your first myth that everyone doesn't need social media.

    I suppose businesses don't NEED social media but if their competitors are using it and using it well, they are going to be at a disadvantage. The best thing about social media is that it's free, you don't need to invest a lot of resources into running a social media campaign.

    I've seen companies dismiss social media because they think it's too time-consuming or ineffective but that couldn't be further from the truth. While the analytics aren't as solid as sales figures, the long term is greatly impacted by social media. I think if you want to engage your customer in a way that is going to skyrocket your business, you certainly need social media.

    Just my $0.02

  • by Meredith Blevins Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    Content, content, content. Yes, it's vital. Necessary. But can everyone write? No.

    Too many people believe that if they can speak they can write. Forget it. If your social media is poorly written, it does not reflect well on your business. Unless you have a good writer on staff, or you hire one, it's probably best to avoid blogging or articles! Play to your strengths.

  • by Faye Oney Tue Sep 6, 2011 via blog

    Great post, and I totally agree with all three. Another myth (and I see many examples of this) is that social media is another channel to broadcast your one-way message. Social media is about building relationships with customers, not promoting to them. And I have to disagree with Rory; social media isn't for every business. If your customers aren't in the social networks, then there's no point in trying to reach them through social media.

  • by Praveen Kumar. B Wed Sep 7, 2011 via blog

    Agree with Edgar. The popular 'volume' and 'numbers' myth. It’s not about reaching many to influence a few, it’s about engaging a few to influence many. Companies need to inculcate a culture where its okay to make mistakes and retry. It's time taking, needs effort and has to progress naturally.

  • by Kent Accountants Wed Sep 7, 2011 via blog

    Hmmm, I think the points you raised could be applied to any discipline that someone on the outside considers to be 'easy' or 'straightforward'.

    If you want anything doing properly you get someone who knows what they're doing to do a quality job.

  • by Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound Wed Sep 7, 2011 via blog

    Myth: Social media is a good channel for selling your product.

    Look through your Twitter feed and count the number of tweets that lead directly to a sales page. Do you click on those links? I don't. Do you buy? I don't either.

    Use your blog as your home base. Use Twitter, FB, LI and other social media sites to push followers to the blog where you can start building a relationship with your readers.

  • by Courtney Wed Sep 7, 2011 via blog

    I agree with your first two points, however the third one is questionable. From experience, I think hiring an intern can be good for your company. I was hired as a social media intern at three different companies/organizations while in school. All three internships served as great learning experiences for both myself and the companies. One company, in particular, really gained a lot of knowledge and know-how from having someone who was interested in learning and participating in social media. I do think that some skills should be required before giving an intern that big of a role, but it can benefit all parties.

  • by Lionel Bachmann Wed Sep 7, 2011 via blog

    I'm guilty of falling for myths 1 & 2. Myth 2 is what got me going into social media, but the questions of myth 1 are making me wonder if I should continue to stay in it.

  • by Becci Arbour Wed Sep 7, 2011 via blog

    Great article! Very good points! I heard all of them said. Being an interactive marketing coordinator you need to know and understand the business before you can begin to speak about it.

    I completely agree with everything you said.

  • by Sean O'Donoghue Thu Sep 8, 2011 via blog

    I agree with you Rory. I would also add that I have seen some issues arise with measurment/ROI due to the fact that corporate goals are not alaways aligned with social media goals-their must be KPIs in place with benchmarks/dashboard-this takes time and buy in but will be worth the effort.

  • by Megan Leap Fri Sep 9, 2011 via blog

    Michael -- wholeheartedly agree on the importance of integrating social media with your marketing! Otherwise, it's a complete waste. Like optimizing a website for conversions that's not getting any traffic.

  • by Megan Leap Fri Sep 9, 2011 via blog

    Great point, Srinivas.

  • by Megan Leap Fri Sep 9, 2011 via blog

    So true, Edgar. I've found the most success when I focus on a nice combination of growing my community while ALSO engaging with them.

  • by Megan Leap Fri Sep 9, 2011 via blog

    Wait... you mean... it's not FREE? I mean, there's no media spend... so it IS free!

    ; )

    Great point, Justin.

  • by Georgio Fri Sep 9, 2011 via blog

    It's also a great myth that B2B companies can't use social media, and that social is only for B2C companies. However, this myth is widespread because most social platforms like Facebook or Twitter aren't really effective for B2B trade and lead generation, since they are focused on people, and not on businesses. is a new site attempting to solve this problem for B2B companies using social media. MyTradeZone is a B2B social networking site where businesses can sign up free and create their company profile, list products or services, request price quotes, and follow other businesses. Check it out and let us know your feedback at

  • by Michelle Bailey Mon Sep 12, 2011 via blog

    But, there is something at stake. And, it may come at a much higher price than paying a social media expert...your entire brand is at stake. Handing that responsibility over to an intern is like giving a 16 year old the keys to your new Porsche.

  • by Megan Leap Mon Sep 12, 2011 via blog

    Love that analogy, Michelle!

  • by Pooja Wed Sep 14, 2011 via blog

    I am with you. Just today, I encountered the same situation you mention in point # 1. One of our customer industries is NOT social media savvy - at all. They are men in suits, most in their 40's, conservative and "old school". We love each of our customers and we love this group equally. But we figured to target them, we'd have to hire another strategy (think direct marketing) which does not include social media.

    Thanks for the great piece of work, by the way!


  • by Laura Christine Sat Oct 8, 2011 via blog

    Very informative post but i think Social media marketing has a lot of good benefits in online business. Using social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook can give you a great platform to start spreading your business.

  • by Praveen Kumar. B Mon Oct 17, 2011 via blog

    Julia! you're spot on. However to be more corrective, I feel employing a definitive strategy and the right tactics both are equally important for a successful social media initiative. Because "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat".

    So, It's always best to know where you're going before you start your journey.

    I have collated more such information on Social media at I'd be glad if you can share your perspectives, critique, bouquets and brickbats via comments. Thank you.

  • by Praveen Kumar. B Mon Oct 17, 2011 via blog

    Any work at the highest level always becomes an art form. A successful social media campaign takes just that.

    It demands one to be selfless, sharing, informative, a good listener, a natural bridge-builder, to be more helping towards the community and a thorough thought leader.

  • by Tema Frank Thu Oct 27, 2011 via blog

    Another myth: that it is free or cheap. If you want to do it right, it needs dedicated staff. High quality, dedicated staff cost money.

  • by Manish Gupta Mon Jul 16, 2012 via blog

    This is a great post and discussion. Thanks all! Debating myself with myth #1, I am still wondering that what business would not need Social Media Marketing. In my opinion, all businesses need social media marketing, some less and some more so the level of focus, commitment, investment will vary..

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