10 misconceptions about social media and marketing

Nov 20, 2013 · 6 min read

Thinkin' about the code

1. Social media marketing is free

There's no free marketing. Even though many social media platforms are free or enable free usage, marketing with and in social media isn't free.

Using different social media platforms effectively for marketing efforts takes time, skill and often other resources. In an organization you must either hire new people to do the social media marketing or to train the current employees and divide their time with or move them completely to social media marketing. For personal marketing or small business marketing you must at least give lots of your own time to the social media marketing or hire help.

2. Blogs aren't social media

Many social media "experts" like to set blogging and social media apart. They are wrong. Blogs are amongst the earliest social media type outlets and they have been building the way for many social media platforms.

The idea of blogging is social. It's a task where a person or several persons share certain content either to a closed group or more commonly "to the world".

3. Social media means instant success

Either it's blogging, sharing content on Facebook or Twitter, networking on LinkedIn or pinning pretty pictures on Pinterest, you aren't likely to become an instant success. Yes, there are those urban legends about blogs that became successful over the night and Twitter users who gained thousands of followers after one Tweet. Most often this doesn't happen.

In reality, as mentioned above, social media takes time. It takes time to built the following, network, create enough interesting content and be found in general.

It may take weeks, months or years to get your blog traffic up high and people to comment, like, fave, share, reshare and otherwise interact with your content. It's not even about the quality or the quantity of the content. Though more you create and share the content, more likely you are to be noticed. But basically it just takes time and lots of effort to get there.

4. Facebook friends are my target group

Your family members and friends aren't your target group. If your Facebook friend list is full of family members and friends, it's safest to assume they aren't or ever will be your clients. They are family and friends, and it's best to keep them out of the business.

Family and friends tend to want to get things for free. Okay, so does everyone else, but these folks are determined they won't need to pay.

The family members and friends may not realize they could or should help you out. Or they might not want to (and that's their choice). In some cases it might be even best if the family and friends keep out of your marketing efforts, as they can do harm.

Instead of expecting or hoping the family and friends to help, look for the people who might actually be interested of your content, services or products. They are the people who like your Facebook page, ReTweet your blog posts and share your Etsy items.

5. Marketing and marketers are evil

Of course marketing can be used for evil, as can be... Pretty much anything, if you think of it. Marketing and marketers by definition aren't evil. That's crazy idea.

It's true, marketing has a tendency to lure certain types of people to work with it. I'm talking about the pushy, greedy and manipulative types. That doesn't mean all or most of the marketers are pushy, greedy and manipulative.

6. Social media are unsocial

Social media platforms themselves aren't social. The people using the platforms create the social in them.

One of the main points of these platforms or channels is give basically anyone a way to share content on web. If using one of these platforms feels unsocial to you, it's best to review again how you are using the platform, how social you are being yourself, who you are following, friending and connecting with. They are as social as their users, the content creators are. They are as social as you are.

7. Marketing is selling

Selling is marketing. But marketing isn't selling. Selling is only a corner of marketing.

On social media the best marketing has been proved to be the kind that isn't about selling. Now most of the marketers and other business people will roam in to tell me that marketing actually is always about selling. Well, that's the end game of marketing, the point is to sell or "sell" something to the target(s).

Marketing is much more than that. Big part of marketing is service.

Start to give and stop selling so hard for making your marketing more efficient. People don't like to be targets of your sales speeches. This is especially clear on social media, where often the feedback is instant as you get unfollowed, unfriended and so on.

8. You must be on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

There are a couple of social media platforms that are really really popular. And it's true that Google has tied Google+ in it's search and other services. Being present on the most popular platforms can be a good idea.

However there's more to social media than just these popular platforms. There are lots and lots of specialized and small social media platforms (niche is such an overused word), which can be much more effective for your marketing efforts.

These specialized platforms give you a better audience than the popular ones. The right specialized platform has the right specialized group of people for you and your business. You don't have to search for the target groups amongst them, they already are your target group. These platforms also don't have as many users as the popular ones, thus your message has better chance to be seen.

I'm not saying you cannot use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other popular social media platform. Sometimes they are the best platforms for your message. Just remember they aren't always the ones for you.

9. High follower count means influence

Klout score, Kred Influence Measurement, PeerIndex, followers, friends, circles... There are many ways to try and measure your influence on social media platforms. They may provide some accuracy,

In reality the number of followers doesn't equal influence. It may be messed up with spam followers or the fact that you follow everyone back. The latter is a great way to gain followers who wouldn't really care a less about what you share.

The Klout score and other means of influence measurement give interesting insights of your followers, friends, likers and whatnot. They however are pretty tied into how much you share. It's quantity over quality.

Instead of hauling in everyone, the better way to influence is to build a small and loyal audience. The specialized platforms also help with this (read above).

10. Marketing is easy

There was this case, not that long ago, of an organization that needed a marketing plan for a campaign. They had a anniversary coming up and wanted to make a splash with it. The organization had a person working for their marketing. This person was fixated on creating a slogan and every other other aspects didn't really interest her. In the end the people creating the plan for the organization didn't come up with a slogan she liked and therefore their whole marketing plan was scrapped.

Marketing is a big and complicated thing. It's bigger than creating a slogan. In most cases it's bigger than one campaign. It includes every aspect of bringing your product, service or brand to the market. Additionally marketing requires research and lots of trial and error.

Because of all the aspects of marketing it's never easy. It's actually really difficult to try and get your brand, product or service to be noticed, to become interesting and popular, and to create leads and sales. It's more than building the thing. It's more than putting it out there.

Extra: Social media

The term social media is flawed.

Let's take a look at what social media would mean: Media means (in this case) communication channels. It's notable that it's plural form, singular being medium. Therefore saying "Facebook is social media" is wrong.

Social is something living organisms do. It's about interaction between the organisms. Medium in this case being a communication channel cannot be social itself. People using the medium are social by definition, because all the communication is social.

When we talk about social media we mean the technical advancements which give "anyone" a way to communicate with "everyone" (from many to many instead of few to many). We also talk about the way people use these technical advancements to communicate with "everyone" or selected people. Social media is communication.

Unfortunately there's no better term for describing the phenomenon we call social media.

Photo by Ed Yourdon under Creative Commons license.


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