Online marketer Rich Gorman poses the question: How much do you really know about social media marketing? It’s true enough that information on this topic abounds, and a quick Google search will reveal page after page of tips, factoids, stats, and best-practices for serious social media marketers. This hardly means that mastering social marketing is easy, however—and in fact, Rich Gorman believes that the sheer volume of information out there can make social media mastery far more elusive.
The problem is simply that the articles you find regarding social media marketing often differ. What’s more, even the agreed-upon, conventional wisdom can sometimes prove false, or at the very least, half-true. The real work of social media mastery, then, does not just revolve around finding the facts—it also includes debunking the myths.
In the paragraphs that follow, Rich Gorman—a long-time social marketing proponent and guru—offers what he believes to be the truth behind some of the most pervasive social marketing myths.
MYTH: All companies need to post content to their Facebook page, every single day.
The germ of this idea—the notion that regular social media updates are imperative for social media success—is one that Gorman does not dispute, nor would any social marketer worth his salt. To say that all companies need to have x amount of posts, on x social networks, in x amount of time, is simply superficial, though. It overlooks the important reality that all companies are different, and so are their social media needs.
Say you work for an online marketing consultancy; offering multiple Facebook posts, each and every day, is vital for maintaining engagement with your potential clients and customers. Say that you work for a manufacturing company, however. Daily Facebook posts are going to be harder to come by—and not only that, but they may not be as helpful as tweets, or LinkedIn updates.
The truth, according to Rich Gorman: “Brands need to know their audience, and they need to think critically about which social networks really benefit them, before they set specific quotas for daily or weekly updates.”
MYTH: Paid media is a thing of the past.
There are many who will tell you that Internet users don’t click on paid ads anymore; they only click on organic content. This may be a slight exaggeration, but it is certainly true that click-through rates for paid content is lower than it is for organic content. Nevertheless, those who say that paid content is dead are neglecting some of the advantages that paid ads offer, even beyond click-through rates.
“It’s about exposure”, comments Rich Gorman. “You may not get a ton of clicks for a paid Facebook ad—though you will surely get some—but you will definitely gain greater visibility on the newsfeeds of your social media followers. In much the same way, users may not click on your AdWords listings, yet they remain imperative for blanketing the search results pages.”
MYTH: Automation is fatal to social media campaigns.
There are innumerable tools available to help marketers automate their social media updates—like Hootsuite, to name just one of the more famous examples—yet shockingly, there are many marketers who will tell you that using these tools is disadvantageous. Their thinking is that social media needs to be more about having a conversation. You need to communicate with your users, not just schedule a steady barrage of updates.
And that’s true, to a point. Automated posts do not take the place of real interaction. With that said, automation can be a valuable, time-saving way to structure your social media campaign and ensure adherence to an editorial calendar.
You need to log into your Facebook page daily, for instance, and you need to respond to comments and friend requests. And, if some breaking news happens in your industry, you may wish to manually offer up some comments, rather than schedule it for a month out. Using an automation tool, however, can ultimately help you to get the bulk of your posts ready to go, and to make regular content updates easier and less time-intensive.
“Automation is most certainly not a sin”, offers Rich Gorman.
MYTH: You should always/never include a call-to-action in your social media updates or blog entries.
There are two schools of thought here. In the first school, you have those who believe that, without a call to action, you’re not really doing anything to promote your brand. Never mind the fact that you’re sharing valuable and authoritative content with your users; if you don’t have a call to action, you’re not doing your brand any favors, these folks will tell you.
The other school includes those who believe the call to action to have no real place in social marketing. They’ll tell you that it is simply too promotional, and that social media users do not have much patience for content like that.
So who is right? As is so often the case, Rich Gorman says, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. “A call to action can be invaluable for prompting users to take specific actions, and when used moderately, the call to action does not come across as overtly promotional”, he maintains. “With that said, posting the same old call to action, day after day, is going to wear thin with your readers. It’s much more prudent to take a middle-of-the-road approach here.”
MYTH: All social media posts should take place between these hours, on these days.
Should your brand ever post after 7:00 PM? Is it smart or stupid to post on the weekends? This is another area in which everyone seems to have a very specific opinion, but the worst thing you can do is to put too fine a point on things or to adhere too emphatically to a rigid set of guidelines. According to Rich Gorman, the best approach is to try posting at different times and simply see what works best, for your brand and with your specific audience.
“As with all of these social media myths, finding the truth is really just a matter of acting with prudence and moderation”, Rich Gorman concludes.