Social Media Marketing Myths That Are Costing You Money

Social Media Marketing Myths That Are Costing You Money

There are two ways that marketing costs you money. One is in the actual costs that you pay out – to vendors and agencies, for tools and subscriptions to support your marketing. And the second is by spending time – or paying other people to spend their time – doing things called marketing that aren’t contributing in any way to your bottom line.

It’s a whole lot easier to get a handle on the first set of costs. Anyone can look at their credit card bill at the end of the month and tally up expenses. But it’s the second kind that quietly siphons your money off and you may not even notice it’s happening until you wake up one day and start to wonder what the point of it all is.

And… drumroll, please…. If you want the truth about marketing?

It shouldn’t be costing you anything. It should, in fact, be making you money.

Enter social media marketing.

It’s not the kind of thing we were taught in school along with Marketing 101 and the 4 Ps and the real 80/20 rule.

So lots of small businesses had to tackle it on their own and learn as they went. And lots of marketers fell over themselves “teaching” it and making up new rules.

And a funny thing happened. Somehow the idea of “marketing” and “being social” (aka “being a human being”) got so convoluted and fraught with dos and don’ts that it seems like we forgot how to do them entirely.

These days I see so many small businesses and solopreneurs doing things under the guise of social media marketing that defy all reason. And I know why they’re doing it. I know why you’re doing it.

It’s because someone told you to. Or you read it in a blog post. Or 437,221 other people are doing it so it must be right.

Well, I’ve got news for you today. That thing you’re calling “social media marketing” may just be another line item in the expense column, doing nothing for your bottom line but costing you a whole lot of time and money.

If you’re ok with that, and you’re using social media just for fun and diversion, then you can skip the rest of this. But if you actually want to make money marketing instead of just spend money doing it, read on.

Myth: I Have To Post Consistently

This flies in the face of everything I have probably ever told you! If you read my blogs you’ve probably heard me talk about how emailing your list consistently is important. And blogging consistently is important. And doing all your marketing consistently is important.

And it is. You can’t market today, then forget about it for a month, then do it again for a few weeks then skip it for six.

But that kind of consistency is not the same thing as “post twice a day to my Facebook page” or “tweet every day at 1 PM.”

If you have a Facebook page or Twitter account and you never use it, and the last post on it was sometime around November of 2013, it’s time to reconsider having that account at all. Get something on it or make it go away.

Making sure your social properties don’t look abandoned is a good thing. But that’s different than putting yourself on some kind of rigid schedule. It’s not that a schedule is bad, it’s just that you’re probably too focused on the schedule and not enough on what you’re getting out of it. If you’re like most people I know, you post just to post. Because it’s on the schedule. Because it’s what someone told you to do and at the best time they told you to do it.

You’re probably not doing it because posting twice a day yields better results than posting twice a week.

So this is what I want you to do: pay attention.

Pay attention to the benefits of posting.

If you’re posting multiple times a day to multiple accounts, tone it down a bit. I promise your business won’t fall into the abyss. In fact, you just might be helping reduce the amount of noise and confusion out there.

Don’t post a single thing without paying attention to what happens as a result of that post. Did someone share it? Comment on it? Engage with it?

Pay attention to why you’re posting.

When you have something to say, post it. If you have something to say twice in a day, post twice. If you have something to say once a week, post once a week. Stop believing that you need to concoct something to say just because you’re on a schedule. Make what you say count.

Find a balance between posting often enough that your accounts are active and posting regularly just for the sake of posting.

Myth: I Have To Share Other Peoples Content

How can I make this simple for you…. You don’t.

Never. Never ever.

You might like to. You might want to. And if that’s the case, do it. But doing it “because”?

That’s just a waste of your time and money.

People will tell you that nobody wants to hear about you you you all the time.

That’s true.

But that implies that there is nothing at all in between “post other people’s content” and “talk about yourself all the time.”

People will tell you that you need to be an “authority” in your industry.

That’s true.

But that implies that the way to become one is through someone else’s content, expertise, time, research and content marketing skills.

People will tell you that you need to “be a resource” for your audience.

That’s quite frankly not true.

In what marketing rule book anywhere does it say that you have to be a resource for your customers?

You want to provide them with a product or service that they need and want, one that solves a problem for them, and you need to fulfill your promise to them. You need to let people know that you know what you’re doing.

Only in social media has this idea of “sharing other people’s stuff” in the interest of either building your authority or becoming a trusted resource become a “thing”.

Are you sending out email campaigns with links to other people’s websites and products and services?

Are you mailing postcards with one side dedicated to someone else’s company?

I’m guessing not.

If you’re sharing other people’s content as a cross-promotional effort or because you want to build that relationship or because you really want to share it, that’s great. Share away.

But don’t believe for a second that sharing other people’s content (aka “curating”) is a requirement for social media marketing.

Myth: I Have To Share Any Content At All

This might sound a little bit crazy, but did you know that you can be successful with social marketing and never share a bit of content at all?

But Carol Lynn! How can I promote my products and services if I don’t post them!?

Well, Fred, (and if you don’t know who Fred is and aren’t one yet then you should be listening to our podcast and joining the army), you can actually just use social media to be social.

You can listen to what people are saying and see what they’re posting and jump in. Comment, question, throw in a bit of humor. Build relationships. Stop relying on someone clicking a link in a status update to build your authority and promote your business and get out there and start to build and promote it yourself.

Ok, yes, I did say that you should post something to your social accounts so they don’t appear abandoned. And you should. But it doesn’t have to be a link or even a photo or a video. You can just ask a question. Or make a comment. Or be a person. Try it! It’s a whole new world of opportunity waiting for you and it doesn’t involve hours of scouring your RSS feeds or blog lists to find something “of value”.

Myth: I Can Automate Posts From One Network To Another

Automation has made our lives a lot easier. There are scheduling tools to help us post to social networks in advance, there are auto replies and auto emails to keep us informed when someone interacts with us even when we’re not online to see it.

But automation has a dark side and part of that is how easy it is to write one post and spit it out to every network in creation.

If you’re sending tweets to Facebook or Facebook posts to Twitter or any post from one network to another…. Stop it.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t post the same thing to multiple networks. You can, and if you don’t want to spend all day crafting social posts then sometimes it makes sense to do that.

But if you’ve got stuff on “auto share” where every tweet gets automatically sent to Facebook or something similar, I need you to deactivate that right now.

Autopilot doesn’t work because every social networks has its own unspoken rules of engagement and its own culture.

When you compose a tweet, for example, there is a 140 character limit so you need to be short and sweet and capture attention fast.

Facebook tends toward informal and friendly.

Google Plus leans toward more in-depth commentary rather than the short one-offs that are common on other networks.

When you see Facebook posts or Google Plus posts auto shared to Twitter, they are most often truncated and the only way to read the post is to bounce off to another network. When you see tweets auto shared to Facebook they’re usually riddled with unnecessary and confusing @ mentions and hashtags.

Before you spew things out everywhere because it’s convenient or you think you have to, consider how that thing will look once it gets to its destination. Tune into each network’s audience and culture if you want to make the most out of your social marketing efforts.

Myth: Its All About Branding

Now we get into murky waters because social marketing can be about branding. If you want to become an authority, be found, be recognized and build relationships then you can certainly use social media to achieve those ends.

The problem arises when small businesses use “branding” as an excuse to stop trying to generate business. Then everything becomes ethereal and that’s when people start curating and posting four times a day and calling it branding.

But it’s never “just” branding.

Even branding should result – at some point – in a contribution to your bottom line. And while social media can certainly result in direct sales, it’s not the most common expectation of return.

You’re more likely to use social media to build relationships, introduce people to your content and company (and you!), entice them onto your email list and then continue the process of turning them into paying customers.

That’s why people fall into the branding trap. They figure they can’t make money “selling” on social media, so it’s just about, sort of, well, being there.

But being there isn’t enough if you don’t see results from being there.

It may not be as precisely measurable as a direct sale or come in pretty metrics and graphs like your website analytics but if you’re marketing with a focus on results then you’ll know when you see them and when you don’t.

For example, maybe you connected with a complete stranger on Twitter and you shared a comment and that grew into a conversation. Maybe because of that conversation you became friends on Facebook and maybe because of that you met that person’s friend, who then became your friend, who introduced you to someone who needed your service. Had it not been for an initial interaction with a stranger you never would have closed that deal.

Sound convoluted? Welcome to the world of social relationships!

This isn’t some new magic created by social media. This is the way the human race has worked for pretty much ever.

The lesson here is simple yet infinitely complex. You may never tie a direct sale to your social media marketing efforts. But there are many sales that may never have happened without it.

It’s your job to pay attention and to see whether those connections and relationships and status updates lead to business at some point in the chain.

If not, all the branding efforts in the world won’t pay the mortgage.

Do any of these common myths and misconceptions change the way you think about your social marketing? Will you be making any adjustments? Let me know because I’d really like to see you succeed!

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Sometimes I think there’s more gray zone territory in social media marketing than gray matter in our brains! 😉

    As far as I’m concerned, the bottom line is always the same …
    You need to be forever cognizant of how your social media marketing efforts are contributing to your bottom line.

    Super tips!

    • I think in some ways the fact that social is “fun” and also used for personal purposes, businesses forget to use it for business. There is a mystique about it that you’re not supposed to sell and you’re not supposed to promote and you have to be social and all that…. but that doesn’t mean pointlessly social. Have a purpose!

      • In my estimation, “pointlessly social” has become an epidemic … an epidemic your podcast can wipe out! 🙂

  • Wow, such an amazing post- just oozing with good advice and dispelling those pesky social media myths. Most importantly you’re getting us to pause, think and take stock. It’s so easy to follow the herd or the social media gurus. Some of the “myths” such as content curation, automation and cross posting can be good- but not done without thought- there needs to be a strategy behind it. I now need to go ahead and share the heck out of this. Although, is that content curation?! I don’t care, because people need to read this article! 🙂

    • You are exactly right… THINK before you do. Going on autopilot is never helpful, whether you’re auto posting or following some tactic just because you heard about it. I’m planning a content curation post for next week so stay tuned. It will address the infernal issue of Triberr and sharing in the context of curation!

      • Music to my ears! 🙂
        Now that you’ve mentioned Triberr, I am even more interested in knowing what you think!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Hey Carol

    I fell into the ‘curate because you have to’ trap for almost six months! It took me that long to realize that by spending almost 3 hours every day sharing every amazing article in my Inbox, I didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to tackle my priority tasks..hmm…

    Starting this week, I have scheduled 30-60 minutes every day to relax and rejuvenate by reading and sharing only those articles that truly speak to me (and those who follow me). I have created a ‘Low Priority’ and ‘High Priority’ folder, and spend a few minutes culling out the best articles to share..the rest can wait!

    Thank you for another ‘no holds barred’ post that oozes with inimitable insights and a lot of warmth!

    Love ya
    Kitto

    • Good for you! And that’s exactly the point I want to make, which is don’t do something because you think you have to. Do it because you want to, or because it results in some benefit to you. I admit I used to do the same thing. I got it into my head that I had to “curate” and I filled up my inbox and RSS feeds and spent hours combing through content to find things worth sharing. Now I don’t look for content to share anymore. I only share the content that comes to me… that I like!

  • Ok, so maybe Carol Lynn is calling me out on some of these things… I don’t do it as a marketing thing. I am just a major over poster. Always have been. It isn’t about my business, I just find things I like and post them. If it is hurting my marketing, I guess I need to stop. ???

    • Well if you’re not doing it for marketing then it won’t hurt your marketing 🙂

      I mean, you can use social media for fun. It doesn’t HAVE to be marketing. But when I see businesses goofing off, spending money and getting nowhere… it’s time to fix something or stop complaining that “social doesn’t work”.

      If you’re posting because you like to, then post away!