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November 4, 2012

Social Media Myths Busted

Social media is, of course, big news in the business world. If you’re a business owner or business leader, it’s not surprising if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you see, hear and read about how to get ahead with social media. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems, especially if you ignore some of the buzz and hype, and focus on the few things that really make a difference.

Here are some common social media myths that can make your life seem far more difficult, but which you can safely ignore…

MYTH #1. It’s All About the Numbers

This is the biggest myth: That success in social media depends mainly on your reach – that is, the number of fans, friends, followers, Likes, retweets, shares, or whatever other measure you choose. Although that seems logical at first glance, it simply isn’t true. Having millions of “followers” on your account doesn’t mean any of them are actually following you in any meaningful way. Even worse, most of them probably don’t even see your posts at all, because they get lost among all the others they follow.

So stop trying to get more followers and friends. Focus instead on consistently delivering value to the people you want to reach, and they will spread the word naturally, and that will get you more followers and friends. More importantly, that approach will get you the right followers and friends.

MYTH #2. It’s All About Engaging Customers

If you’re in a customer service role, then yes, social media channels give you a powerful way to engage with customers. And if you wear a marketing hat, again you can use social media for market research, marketing campaigns and building better engagement with customers and clients.

But if you’re in a leadership or advisory role, that’s not the best use of your time. You might occasionally dip into your organization’s Twitter feed or Facebook page to observe what customers are saying, but you wouldn’t spend every waking hour having conversations with customers. That’s not your job, and if you are spending too much time doing that, you’re not doing your real job!

Instead, use social media as another way to share your key messages and ideas. For instance, if you’re a thought leader, use it to share your blog posts, videos, articles and special reports. Or, if you’re a business leader, use it to share your key strategic messages – both internally and externally.

MYTH #3. It’s All About Facebook and Twitter

When most people use the term “social media,” they are referring to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. These are important, but they are mainly for amplifying your message.

The real value comes from the tools where you state your message. These are tools like blogs (for articles), YouTube (for videos), SlideShare (for presentations), e-mail newsletter providers, (for e-books) and the iTunes Store (for podcasts and e-books). Use these tools for crafting and delivering your messages, and then use the social networks for sharing them more widely.

MYTH #4. You Have to Do It All Yourself

When you use these tools, you’re engaging as a person, not an organization or brand. So you do need to be authentic, and show your face (literally in videos and profile pictures, metaphorically in your style and voice). This does mean you should be personally responsible for the core message, but you can delegate or outsource some of the other tasks in distribution and promotion.

For example:

* You can be the presenter in your YouTube videos, but your team can publish it to YouTube and share it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter and other networks.

* You can write articles, and your team can publish them on your blog.

* You can use services to publish blog posts to Twitter and Facebook automatically.

* You can use services to send you articles and news stories of interest, but you decide what’s worth sharing with your networks.

MYTH #5. It Needs a Lot of Time and Effort

It’s true that this all takes some time and effort, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours a day on social media. Far from it.

Create a realistic schedule for yourself, and stick to it. As a rule of thumb, aim to create one key message a week to share – for example, write a short article (400-500 words) or record a short video (2-3 minutes).

The key is consistency. Building an online platform is a process, not an event. Build your reputation one step at a time, and you’ll be building a strong reputation that creates real value for your stakeholders and boosts your bottom line.

Gihan Perera is an Internet coach for speakers, trainers, consultants and other business professionals. He’s the author of “Fast, Flat and Free: How the Internet Has Changed Your Business”. Visit and get free e-books, webinars and more.

23 Responses to “Social Media Myths Busted

    avatar AllanIT says:

    At last some information about social media with out all the hype. I like your approach.

    Excellent info, thanks. I have spent far too long trying to boost my “likes” and now will spend more time on producing quality, engaging content.


    avatar Michel Nadeau says:

    Thanks for this great advice, I had my doubt about the number as a golden rule. Right now I am researching what people want and good content. I am new to the world of blogging and any sound advice I get I try to apply and practice.

    avatar Marco says:

    Excellent guidance. By trial and error, we are now beginning to establish which of the social mediums are effective in reaching out to our niche audience. Authenticity when deciding upon tone of voice and content is vital, especially when using multiple social channels to engage and influence.

    Great post, however, dealing with clients every single day, it is all about Sales. If we can put more $ in their pocket vs the amount they spend on Social Media, then we did our job, otherwise, they many still believe that doing it the old way, like advertising in a local paper, or radio, will give them more return. I do believe, each industry and business must be carved with its own success using Social Media, and this is why we still do it 🙂

    Great information you have shared with us. Social media is the essential part of the online business. We should have to concentrate on quality contents. If you post quality content on your page or social media profile etc then your fans, friends & likes automatically increase.

    It’s a nice thought to separate social media for engaging customers with that of getting the right mix of social signals for the big G. If you’re doing it well, the former is obviously going to pay dividends – but if you’re an adviser, like you say – you still need to compete on social signals with those who do this for customer engagement.

    avatar David Martin says:

    Once again, the moral of the story comes back to: it’s all about content, and the value you offer to customers and potential customers. Your ranking will benefit to the extent that you constantly strive to add value.

    avatar Troy Johnson says:

    This was one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time regarding social media. Whether is is followers, engagement or contribution the overall theme here is quality not quantity. Good job Gihan.

    A nice thought, something we have always believed in, but the buzz just makes you irksome. Thanks.

    Great article, excellent feedback. I’m learning along the way myself as SM can become quite overwhelming. I totally agree with Troy though that social media should be about quality, not quantity.

    This makes so sense. Good article. I have been doing it slowly and correctly and it works.

    avatar Pawel says:

    But it’s not news, use your mind not only a trend is success way, i think…

    avatar Nina says:

    For the first time I have seem someone debunking the #1 myth of social media, that the number of fans or followers do not translate to committed customers.
    Thank you for this!

    avatar Online Education Consultation says:

    Thank you for making the effort and spreading this information with all of us. It was indeed very useful and informative while being straight forward and to the point.
    Online Education Consultation

    I must say it was flawless and great to read. Thanks for providing great insight and fostering new thoughts about Social Media.

    avatar Bill Elearning says:

    This approach makes much more sense than the others we read all this time regarding Social media. Those myths have harmed many companies and they will continue to harm more as long as people spend more time than they can afford on these.

    avatar Arons S says:

    Thanks man! Waiting for your upcoming articles.

    avatar Limo Hire says:

    Yes great information! ANy business not using a form of social media in this day and age will get left behind 🙂

    You have hit the nail on its head. We have seen that many ‘experts’ advise their clients to be all the time on fb, twitter etc. No strategy, no appreciation of how social media work, no looking into the diversity of the online media world.

    Ah, finally. The voice of reason in a sea of panic.
    Thanks you for your article. Moderation is always the answer

    avatar Nayanna Chakrbarty says:

    Wonderful insight. Managing social media is a time consuming process and myth #3 – is very valid. Most people think that those platforms are the only way to connect with the audience.

    avatar Deborah says:

    My thoughts are that perhaps Google doesn’t necessarily give too much credit to social media, I believe it will have to in the future.

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