Jenn Herman
July 22, 2015

Three Myths Around Social Media Marketing

All of the blog posts I write are dedicated to the power of what social media CAN do for your business. And if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a couple posts, you know I love social media and the impact it can have on a business. But, despite all that, there are three things that social media will NOT do for your business.

Whether it’s talking to a business owner or reading a post somewhere, inevitably, some people think that social media will be their instant cure-all to fix all their problems. Of course, the endless posts titled “How I tripled my business in two months” or “How I gained 10,000 followers with 8 simple tricks” or other similar, misleading titles don’t help with the realities that we actually face on social media.

Yes, these businesses and bloggers often did see the “success” they claim in the titles. But their tactics may be questionable. The results may actually have no financial or actual value to their company. And most of the time, the “methods” they used are vaguely outlined with little detail on the what actually went into the process.

And yet, they leave these struggling business owners with the idea that they too can go “viral” or find the hidden gold-mine of customers just waiting to buy up all their inventory.

And so, I want to dispel the three myths that many think about social media marketing.

Social Media Will Not Turn You Into An Overnight Success

social-media-will-not-doI’m sorry to be the one to tell you this. But you do not launch a Facebook page on Monday and see rapid growth, sales, and overnight popularity by Friday. The Today Show will not be calling you to participate in a segment on their show. You will not get book deals. Heck, you won’t even get a few hundred followers on Facebook in a week. Well, not “real” or targeted ones, at least.

Just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t mean the thousands or millions of potential customers out there are all of a sudden going to find you and immediately sing your praises.

Social media takes time. A lot of it. It takes time for you to commit to it every day. It takes time to grow and cultivate an audience around your brand. It takes time to build engagement and interactions. It takes time to figure out what your audience really wants to see on social media – and, no, it’s not endless inspirational posts.

And for those few, rare people or companies that see a video or article go “viral”, most of those are a combination of well developed content conveniently posted at the right time with the right people interested in that message. Or, you could call it luck. You don’t really “plan” for viral content. In fact, most people that have had content go viral have stated that it was the one piece they didn’t plan out like everything else they normally do.

And even then, do you know what typically goes “viral”? It’s entertainment. It’s a video of cat playing with a monkey. It’s a video of a little boy busting out the most adorable break-dancing moves at a wedding. It’s a photo of some politician making an awkward facial expression turned into a meme. Let me ask you honestly – what do any of these things have to do with your business or product? Probably not much.

So, expecting that you’ll just jump on this whole social media thing, and all of a sudden your content will spread like wildfire is a more than a little delusional.

Instead of planning on overnight success, I recommend you stop and think about what you actually want from social media. Then plan. And plan on spending real time on social media. And set realistic expectations for “success”.

I don’t mean to be the cranky-pants, run-in-the-other-direction pessimist. I love social media and think it can do a LOT for your business. I even believe you can do a lot in short amounts of time. But those expectations need to managed realistically and planned for in order to really see those results.

Social Media Will Not Guarantee Sales

Similar to not being an overnight success, social media won’t just start generating endless sales for your company. Sure, it can generate sales and sales leads for you. But this is not going to be the primary result and it certainly won’t be the sales funnel to make you a millionaire by the end of the month.

I have to point out here that social media has a key root word: “social”. That means it’s about creating a community, an environment, a conversation, and a relationship with your audience.

You cannot go onto a social media platform, open an account, and start posting “Sale!” or “Available Now!” or “Buy” or “Get it Now” or any other in-your-face sales pitch post after post. You will alienate more of your audience than you will gain using this tactic.

Instead, you’re going to need to take time sharing content of value. Share your story. Engage with your audience. Get a little bit more personal or “human”. Actually talk to your audience. Post the things they want to see/read. And then, amid all this valuable content that your audience actually connects with, you can throw in the occasional sales post to encourage them to buy something.

But understand that this may not even drive the sales.

Most people are not on social media to buy. They’re there to socialize, interact with friends and family. They’re on the go. They’re relaxing on the couch. They’re commuting to work. They’re on a lunch break. They’re distracted. So your pitch to “buy something” probably isn’t the best time.

That doesn’t mean you can’t drive sales. Your post may trigger a thought and they’ll visit your site later when they have time. Or you might find a way to collect their email address from a social media post where you can later market to them via email – when they’re more likely to buy. There are numerous ways you can grow your business and generate sales from social media. But understand that just posting to social media for the sole purpose of selling isn’t going to drive all these new sales your way.

Social Media Will Not Fix Your Bad Reputation or Product

If your reputation sucks, well that’s on you. If your product (or service) sucks, yeah, that’s on you too. And you know what’s going to fix that? Not social media!

In fact, social media will inevitably make this worse! This gives people a public platform to discuss and share the ways in which you suck.

So, if your brand reputation or your product sucks, stop and fix it! Fix the product. Take care of your customers. Offer solutions. Change the perspective people have of your company. Oh, yes, this will take a boat-load of time and probably money for you to do.

To be fair, I think social media is one of the best customer service platforms available to companies and I think it can do a lot to help businesses overcome negative feedback. But it requires a quality response plan, responsible and respectable people to respond to and resolve those issues, and a consistent message of putting your customer first. And, let’s face it, if your brand reputation is really bad, you’re probably not in a position to do these things. So if you’re not willing to invest in improving your company reputation the right way, why would social media be the answer?

It won’t be. It will be the magnifying glass that highlights your shortcomings.


Well, now that I sound like the biggest negative-Nancy out there, I hope I haven’t chased you away from social media. As I mentioned, I love social media – that’s why I’ve been blogging about it for two and half years. And I am a personal testament to the power of using social media to grow a business. But I also like to be realistic and transparent with you and I don’t want you to enter into social media marketing with delusions of grandeur or unrealistic expectations that will leave you frustrated or, worse, have you give up.


Originally titled “Three Things Social Media Will NOT Do For Your Business” on, and is rebublished here with permission


Additional (lead) Image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Jenn Herman is a social media strategist and Instagram advocate who writes a blog focused on understanding trends in social media management. She provides tips, resources, and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies for success. Her business background includes Administration, Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing. If you would like to learn more about how to use Instagram, you can download "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Instagram" here.