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36 Social Media Myths and How to Slay Them – Part 1 of 3

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By Hector Cisneros

Social media platforms have been around since before the invention of the internet. However, modern social media sprang up starting with Blogger and LinkedIn in 2003, followed by Facebook in 2004, My Space in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. These social networks quickly grew to millions of subscriptions by the late 2000’s and today there are more than 2.3 billion social media subscribers. Most ideas of what social media does is erroneous. The myths of what its boundaries are and how it works as marketing venues are widespread and are often believed as true. With so much growth and rapid change, it's no wonder why there are so many misconceptions and myths about social media. This article will be comprised of 3 parts, covering 36 common myths that people and businesses have about social media. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will cover the first 12 myths. I also recommend reading Part 2 and Part 3of this series to get the big picture.  So, take several long breaths as we bring you the most comprehensive blog series covering more than three dozen social media myths so you won’t mistakenly fall prey to their misconceptions.

It’s a myth that modern social networking started in the 2000’s. In fact, the invention of the computer gave birth to digital social networking. First came bulletin boards, then social gaming and chat rooms and it wasn’t until the general public was able to acquire high-speed internet access that social networking took off on a massive scale. The first modern social network I engaged in was LinkedIn and Facebook. This was followed by me joining Twitter in 2006 and the beginning of my blogging career in 2007 when I started to use Blogger. We have written literally hundreds of articles about social media on our blog, and I encourage our readers to search for articles about their favorite social network or social media in general. Now, let’s take a look at the first 12 myths.

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Myth #1: Social Media is FREE. This is one of the oldest social media networking myths. For one thing, posting to social media requires time, and as the old saying goes, time is money. On top of that, most social networks sell your personal information either directly as a sale of database information or via pay per click, which exposes you to ads based on your profile information. There is a cost to your loss of privacy both in terms of additional exposure to things you don’t want and the security risk you acquire by subscribing to a system that can’t block cybercriminals from joining their ranks. It’s important that you set your privacy setting to a high level. If you’re a business owner, make sure you provide high quality, useful posts to add value and build trust with your following.

Myth #2: Social Media is Easy to Use. In the early days of social media, there were fewer features, and the user interface was simpler. Then vendors began adding value by adding features. Soon, most of the top tier social media vendors began revising their interfaces by changing the look, feel and location of features. Then they began monkeying around with how the timeline displays posts, followed by changes in policies. Change often means, “that you have to take time to relearn how to use that platform.” Today, they have added artificial Intelligence control of the timeline and several layers of so-called post scrutiny, along with the addition of new features launched at their annual conventions. To be fair, many changes have been requested by the subscribers to address security issues and to maintain the integrity of the social networks. Having said that, many of the changes also seem arbitrary or solely designed to drive businesses to spend more money on their pay per click platforms. All of these changes have created a continual learning curve that costs users a lot of time if they want to keep current. This is true whether we are talking about subscribers, or businesses who want to advertise. Social media is no longer user-friendly unless you're just posting to the timeline.

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Myth #3: Social Media is Private - Even after all the privacy tightening caused by the media hullabaloo and shenanigans during the 2016 Presidential election, and the massive data breaches of Equifax (and some of the social nets), your data is still not private. Social networks sell access to your data via pay per click or pay per view advertising. Why do you think they want you to fill out your profile completely? It’s so others can find you via that profile. This includes vendors who want to sell you something. Unfortunately, vendors aren’t the only ones who can target your profile. Cybercriminals can target your profile as well. Just like my recommendation in item #1, make sure you tighten up your privacy settings on all social networks. Many of the new antimalware products include a social media audit module, so use them to tighten things up. This is also true for your business pages. Copycat pages have been showing up more frequently. If you catch one, the social network will usually remove it quickly.

Myth #4: Social Media is the Best Marketing Venue for Small Business.  If you’re a micro business, social media may not be the best venue for you, but it typically is the least expensive. You can use sweat equity to create a following, credibility, and even sales. Boosting ads or using their pay per click platforms are also relatively cheap. However, this doesn’t automatically make them the best marketing venue. It’s quite possible that joining a face to face word of mouth network will be more productive, or participating in trade shows, or advertising in specialty websites or publications. The fact is, you don’t know what’s best until you test the venue. I recommend visiting several live chambers of commerce’s and BNI social networking events to explore the other marketing venues other than just social media.  You may find you love or hate using social media, but really like one of the other marketing platforms. More importantly, does it produce results? Pay attention to your ROI. It will lead you to what’s best.

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Myth #5: Social Media Doesn’t Work for B to C Businesses. I have been working with many business to consumer companies, and I have found social media works well for B to C companies. If a company told me they tried it and it didn’t work, this is usually because they tried to do it themselves, or they used the wrong social platform, they may have neglected to do any research, spent too little on the test or did not give the campaign a long enough run. Often, they neglected to use the pay per click platforms included with the social network.  Other common mistakes I have found was their ads were poorly designed, lacking a compelling offer or they were engaged in poor targeting of the audiences, time, region, demographics or psychographics. The most common mistake was that the business assumed the process was simple and they wouldn’t have to experiment at all before they hit on the right formula for success. Good testing and experimenting are critical to long-term success. Dabbling almost always fails.

Myth #6: Social Media Doesn’t Work for B to B Businesses. Similarly, to myth #5, business to business companies often say social media just doesn’t work for them. Like the B to C companies, often the problem is related to picking the right social networks. For example, choosing Google+, Twitter or Facebook versus selecting LinkedIn as their first choice.  Even if they picked LinkedIn and that was a perfect fit, they could have still fallen victim to other common mistakes. These are similar to myth #5, that of spending too little money or not giving the campaign a long enough run, including not trying the pay per click platforms. Other common mistakes B to B companies have made include; poorly designed ads, missing or non-compelling offer, or they were engaged in poor targeting of the audience, time, region or demographics or psychographics. These are common mistakes made in many marketing venues which is why it’s critical to engage in pre-campaign testing and experimenting. There’s no substitute for testing and experimentation.

Myth #7: Social Media is All You Need. Many small businesses believe this myth. This is the same delusion that many face to face networkers have. The best marketing is what you can afford and what produces results for your business. The problem with most small businesses is they have very little room to make marketing mistakes, and because of this, they fail to experiment. If you’re a small business and don’t have a website, a blog and are still using Gmail or other free email services (instead of a custom URL branded email address), you're losing sales, and you're hurting your credibility. It’s important to diversify because you never know what your social media platform is going to do. Not long ago, many celebrities woke up and found several million followers missing from their networks. Recently Twitter decided you can no longer post to multiple twitter accounts simultaneously to spread your message. If you had five diverse twitter handles that followed your company, you now have to spend five times as much effort to do what used to take only one post. Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky at best.

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Myth #8: Social Media has Replaced Face to Face Networking. Ask any successful member of the local Chambers of Commerce or BNI chapter, and you will see that their membership and attendance is up. Why? Because it really works. I have no doubt that social media provides the ability to reach a greater audience, but online social networking does not transfer the same amount of credibility and trust that face to face networking provides. Besides, most of the social media audience is apprehensive because of all the privacy, security and data breaches they have been reading about in the news. The fact is, face to face networking is alive and well, and news of its demise has been just plain wrong. 

Myth #9: You will be your Best if You only use One Social Platform. There is some validity to this myth. This is based on the fact that if you like and know how to use a specific platform, you’re more likely to use it and be successful with it. But this still begs the question of diversification and wanting to cater to your customers taste and not what you want as a business. I have always said that social media is all about the customers wants not ours. I believe if you are active in the top eight social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Blogger and YouTube) you will bring your message to more consumers. Plus, this diversity helps your SEO score. If your research shows you that your best customer base is found on Facebook, then make sure you are there. But you could be missing out on a much more valuable audience on another social network. Plus, it makes sense to have some level of diversification just to protect yourself from the vicissitudes of social network change.

 Myth #10: You can Never be in Enough Social media Networks.  This myth is the opposite of number nine. We do recommend you stay active in as many social networks as possible because it helps with SEO ranking, it gives you more reach and helps you grow a more diverse audience. But there are limits to how many nets you can manage. If you’re a micro business owner who handles all the work yourself, you should limit your work to a maximum of three social nets (pick from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+) plus Blogger or YouTube. If you’re a small business with a minimal staff, it’s wise stick to the top eight networks mentioned in myth #9.

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Myth #11: You only have to Post once a Day. Posting once a day is what I call a good start, but by no means is this the ideal number of posts per day. Back in 2013, our research showed us that you could post upward of 10 times a day, as long as your post was of very high quality. The only caveat is that you have to offer a lot of authoritative content so that when you begin to recycle your posts, they won’t be posted again during the same 60-day period. On top of this, you must continue to produce new authoritative content. There is nothing like a new article, video or podcast to create traffic. If you’re posting curated content, make sure it's of very high quality, is useful, relevant and timely because it is nowhere near as useful as posting your own content of equivalent quality, usefulness, relevance, and timing.

Myth #12: Social Marketing Only takes one hour a day. From one perspective, this myth can be true, especially if you set a timer and you stop when the chime rings. However, if you're trying to use social media to its maximum potential, two to three hours a day is more realistic. If you add up the time to do the research, write your weekly blog and schedule all of your post, it will add up to about 10.5 hours a month. This is especially true if you're posting at least three to five times a day and you are actively collecting high quality curated content and also developing your own authoritative content. Again, if you’re a micro business, this formula can work for you, but if you're trying to maximize your results by doing one hour a day, you won’t achieve that by engaging in “least effort most gained,” because that is an oxymoron.

Social media myths exist because billions of people use it everywhere and everyone has an opinion as to why things are the way they are. This series was written to dispel these myths. It is a fact that there are few accredited social media training programs that provide professional credentials. This means almost anyone can say they are a “social media expert.” Social media is the fastest evolving medium on the internet. Rapid change creates myths, because what once worked has evolved into something different. This new entity no longer works the way it did, so a myth is born. To get the most out of social media, it is important that you either stay current or hire someone who is. Even the most studious professional will get surprised by the rapid changes in social media because the social network giants rarely announce changes before they take place. So, do yourself a favor, read all three of the articles in this series so you won’t be fooled by the myths. If you plan on engaging in social media marketing, don’t dabble, get help. Choose a professional with references. Find someone who can provide some guarantees and take the time to explain how things work for your business. Not doing so will lead to many costly mistakes and leave you perpetuating your own social media myths, i.e. “social media doesn’t work for me”!

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article provides 36 common Social Media Myths that businesses believe about social media marketing and advertising. These myths are provided in detail along with the facts that dispel them. It also provides the means to avoid falling prey to these myths in the first place. Additionally, links to other related articles are provided along with a link to the show notes page.

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If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. I recommend checking out the links on the blog, along with checking out other related articles on our Show Notes Page.  Also, don’t forget to listen to the BlogTalkRadio show on this subject. If you have a related useful comment or opinion about this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+ and share us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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