17 Social Media Marketing Lies You Probably Believe
As an entrepreneur in the 21st century, there’s truly an expectation that you are on social media, networking, promoting, and growing your business. We’ve stopped questioning if you should do social media marketing and have jumped to how.
Along the way, we’ve embraced many truths about exactly how social media marketing “works,” what we should post, why we should post, and what sort of results we should expect to get.
For the first few years after I started my online business, I followed all the social media marketing advice I could find. I spent at least a dozen hours (often way more) on social media each week, networking and trying to grow a following.
Slowly, my business did grow, but still I was spending more time “marketing” myself than I was actually helping clients. I wasn’t able to charge prices that would really support the lifestyle that I wanted to live because I didn’t have enough credibility to attract high-profile clients.
It was only when I started to question the popular advice on how to market my business that I finally found freedom — both in my time and in my income.
So, today we’re throwing conventional wisdom aside and looking at social media marketing in a whole new light. Here are 19 social media marketing LIES that you probably believe.
1. Social media marketing is how most businesses grow a following
You see businesses and influencers with thousands, even millions of followers on social media. You see the content they post and how often they post it. And it’s all too easy to think that their social media strategy is what grew their following to where it is today.
However, the fact that they have the number of followers that they do often has very little to do with their “social media strategy.” In fact, most people or businesses who are successful on social media got to where they are mostly because they were out in the real world, doing things worth talking about. The “talking” happens on social media — but that’s not where the success comes from.
2. Social media marketing is how most businesses become successful
90% (or more) of successful businesses got to where they are by paying for advertising — not just posting on social media every day and hoping that the algorithms will work in their favor.
Yes, there are some companies that (either by chance or through great effort) that have found their success primarily through social media marketing. However, that’s not the norm. Most big, successful companies reached that state by investing in their growth.
3. Social media marketing is free
If you have a small business then your marketing budget is probably also small, which might make you think that it’s better to utilize “free” marketing rather than pay. But, truly, social media is not “free” at all! The hours and hours you must spend to see any real success in this way pull you away from more impactful things that you could be doing to grow your business.
Your time is worth something! And not only that, but it’s also the most limited resource that you have. It’s the only thing that you can never replace or get any more of! Don’t waste it on “free” social media marketing when there are other strategies that can get you similar or better results at a much lower time cost.
4. “Free” social media marketing is better than paid advertising because it’s more “organic”
Sometimes I hear entrepreneurs say that they don’t want to pay for advertising because they want their business to grow “naturally and organically.” There’s this belief that free social media can (potentially) grow your business “better” (not bigger necessarily, just “better”) than you could by paying for advertising.
Really though, this simply isn’t true. Paying for advertising isn’t “buying” followers or customers. Whether you use free social media or paid advertising, what you are really after is exposure. People have to hear about you before they can consider hiring you.
If free social media is your only marketing strategy then you’re limiting the number of people who can discover your business, which will automatically limit your growth.
5. “Free” social media marketing is your only option (because you could never afford to actually advertise)
Even if you have a small business with a tiny marketing budget, you can still start to invest in advertising — and then reinvest your profits into progressively larger marketing campaigns.
Social media marketing is NOT your only option. Facebook ads and Google ads start at just $5.00 per day — and you can reach up to 1,000 people per day at that rate. There’s no reason to NOT do this.
(If you can’t even afford $5/day — $150/month — than, honestly, you should probably get a job — or at least some paying clients — and save some money to invest in your business so that you can start to grow.)
6. If you are consistent on social media, you eventually will make it. Guaranteed. (“If you build it, they will come.”)
People try to be encouraging by saying “Just be consistent, and your efforts will be rewarded! Your audience will grow, eventually!” Often, though, this is false hope.
I know so many entrepreneurs who consistently have posted good quality content on social media for literally years and still have tiny followings. They’ve followed all the conventional advice, but their time has mostly been wasted. (At least, they could have gotten much better results had they devoted that level of energy elsewhere.)
Now, I’m not saying that nobody finds success on social media — obviously, many do — but that’s not actually the norm. That’s where we need the disclaimer, “Results not typical.”
I’m also NOT saying that if you get really serious about social media and make it your full-time job that you won’t see results. If you post GREAT content very consistently, then you likely will become successful — though it still may take a while. (Also, really “hustling” to promote your social media channels can greatly improve your odds.)
But simply posting “good” content consistently doesn’t guarantee anything.
7. Posting to your Facebook business page is actually doing something
Ever since the major Facebook algorithm change a few years ago, FB business pages get very little organic reach. Because of this, daily posting to your page generally isn’t even worth your time (unless you have a large, very engaged audience).
That’s not to say that Facebook should be ignored — far from it! Facebook is an amazing way to connect with your audience and meet new clients, through personal connections, paid ads, running a group, or gaining a “following” on your personal page.
8. Instagram “likes” actually mean something
Unfortunately, Instagram has so many bots that when you use hashtags to get likes, often about half those likes aren’t even from real people. (And they certainly aren’t from potential customers.)
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post on IG — it can still be a great way to showcase your visual products or behind-the-scenes shots. But don’t count on those “likes” to necessarily convert into buyers.
Related Article: Instagram Strategy for Beginners
9. Posting on 5+ social media platforms every day is the best use of your time
Not only is trying to “everywhere” likely to drive you insane, it’s also not very productive. By spreading yourself too thin, it’s very difficult to gain momentum on any of the platforms. Not to mention that there are other activities that you could invest your time in for greater results.
10. Your business is small/new, so “free” social media is the best arena for you to market in
As you scroll through your social media feeds, you see ads from other businesses — which you assume can afford to advertise because they must be big and successful. On the other hand, you feel small, new, and perhaps rather insignificant (at least, as far as your business is concerned).
It’s almost like you feel you aren’t yet “worthy” to advertise for real.
So you play it small, promoting your products and services to your tiny audience. You tell yourself that you’re not yet “ready” to take your business to the public. You need to just spread your message to one new person at a time.
Why? There’s really no reason for this! Just because you’re business is small doesn’t mean that you have to stick to free social media.
11. Social media “celebrities” spend minimal time on social media
Just because you can create an Instagram post in 10 minutes, share your blog post on Facebook in 2, or film and upload a Youtube video in half an hour doesn’t mean that’s what the truly “successful” social media influencers are doing.
If you give a minimal, but consistent effort on social media, then you might (might) eventually see exponential growth. But most people/businesses who are successful on social media either A) gained their fame in the real world, or B) made social media their JOB.
Want to (almost) guarantee your success on Instagram, Youtube, or any other platform? Invest 30 – 60 hours/week — on just ONE platform. (When you see people who have large followings on many platforms, it’s almost always because they “got famous” on one of them, and then their followers went to find them on the others.)
12. Most of your growth will come from people clicking on links you post
Even if you have a large audience, when you post a link on social media — to your blog post, product offer, or mailing list — only a fraction of your followers will see it; an even smaller number will actually click on it.
The real power of social media (for business growth) comes when you create content that spreads virally. Once some of your followers take action and share your post, each of their audiences gets the chance to see it as well; YOU get the chance to reach new people who have never heard of you or your business before.
This shows just how important it is to create share-worthy content! There are ten key factors that make some content go viral. Click here for a guide that shows exactly what those factors are!
13. The same sort of content will work on all social media platforms
The “easy” way isn’t always the best way, and so it is with sharing on social media. Many businesses think that a solid strategy is to create content and then share it on all the platforms. While this will get you a few clicks, it’s won’t give you the best results.
To get more engagement, it’s important to consider the differences and purpose of each individual platforms (they aren’t all the same!) and then use them accordingly.
For example, Twitter users are looking for updates, whereas Youtube viewers want to be entertained with long-form content. People spend time on Facebook to connect, chat, and build relationships, and on Instagram they want to be shown interesting, beautiful, and/or inspirational things.
By giving people what they are looking for in each of these spaces, you’ll find that they are much more interested in responding.
14. The bigger the following, the better
While you might aspire to have 100K or a million followers, truly what matters much more than quantity is quality. It’s better to have fewer followers who are more active, engaged, and targeted than it is to have more that aren’t.
Which is better? A million followers with 2% engaged, or 100K with 50% engaged? A million followers who don’t really care about your specific industry, or 10,000 who are obsessed with everything you do?
15. “1,000 is nothing”
On many platforms, nobody seems to be very influential or important until they reach 10, 30, or even 100 thousand followers. We discount following of hundreds or a few thousand as “practically nothing.”
But what if you think about it a different way? 1000 people listening to you and your message is NOT nothing. Imagine giving a presentation to a room of 100 people. That would be such an honor! 100 people are plenty of customers for many businesses. What about an audience of 1,000? That’s probably way more customer than you need, and speaking to that many would be a huge opportunity.
Don’t discount your audience of a few hundred or thousand. If you communicate with them effectively, they are more than enough.
16. Social media marketing is all about exposure
One of the biggest mistakes most small businesses make when they plan their social media content is to assume that the primary purpose of being on social media is to get exposure.
While it’s true that some (sometimes even a lot) of visibility can be had on social media, really, that’s not why these platforms exist and that’s not what they do best. Their purpose is to be social: to have conversations, meet people, and share. They aren’t designed to be our own, personal advertising platforms.
Social media marketing is GOLD for connecting with our customers, deepening relationships, and listening to what our audiences are interested in. Leave advertising for other arenas.
17. You should only share your own content OR You should only curate the content of others
When new marketing clients come to me, more often than not they fall way on one side or the other of whose content they are sharing. Generally, their feeds are either made up of 95% their own content OR 95% everyone else’s.
Either way, they always have reasons (and even logic) for why they’ve been using this strategy. However, the reality is that a 50/50 or at least 66/33 mix will get way better results. You need to be promoting your own content to get your messages out there. This is vital for building trust and relationships. However, you’ll be able to help your audience a whole lot more (and look less self-centered) if you also share content from outside sources.
Making Social Media Marketing Really Work
Do I hate social media marketing? Absolutely not. Social media is an AMAZING, unprecedented tool for growing our businesses, and we should definitely make use of it.
However, it’s important to be strategic about how we use it. It plays a role in our marketing, but it’s shouldn’t be the only way we market.
At the heart, social media marketing must stay social. We must listen to our audience. We must engage. We cannot expect to spam links every day and have anyone care.
If you’ve been simply “posting every day” and you’re ready to up your social media marketing game with a real, strategy plan, then download my free Social Media Marketing Plan workbook. Inside, you’ll find exercises to help you decide exactly which platforms to focus on, what to post, and how to get more engagement.
How, then, do we advertise?
You might be wondering, “Okay, I get it. Social media is for connecting socially, not for advertising. But then how do I promote my business??”
Maybe, up until this point, promoting your content (or services) on social media has been the only way you’ve been marketing. How has that been working for you?
While you may have found some success, my bet is that you’re still a pretty good ways away from your goals. Maybe you want to grow your audience a lot faster than it’s growing, and you’d probably like to increase your income as well.
Honestly, I have to tell you: Most (90%+) of successful companies got to where they are primarily by paying for advertising.
Even though social media is very good for many purposes and can potentially grow a business quickly, there are simply no guarantees — or even confident predictions. As long as you are relying solely on social media to fuel your business growth, you are depending on someone else (who doesn’t care about your goals at all) for your future success.
Algorithms change, people unfollow, and you never know exactly how many people will see your content as long as you are “posting and praying.” Only when you choose to really put a stake in the ground and invest yourself (time and money) in your success can you have any true expectations for the kind of results you’ll get.
Social media should not be ignored. It’s great at what it’s built to do. But don’t give up your future success by handing over the reigns of your business to a third party. Just because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing doesn’t mean it works.