As marketing professionals, we often come across the same predispositions when discussing social media marketing with our clients. While social media marketing is a newer practice compared to traditional marketing and advertising strategies, it holds vast, far-reaching benefits. But with change comes concerns and misconceptions. To quell your fears and help you feel more comfortable when jumping into a new social media initiative, we chose six of the most common misconceptions about social media marketing to debunk. This way, you’ll be armed with knowledge before beginning your own social media marketing journey.

1.Social media marketing is quick and easy.

This is the biggest, most incorrect misconception. While it may seem like a post here and an ad or two there, social media marketing and management can eat up quite a bit of time and leave some business owners scratching their heads.

But what makes it so complicated? Isn’t it just like posting on my personal social media pages?

The short answer is; No. The steps in developing a social media marketing campaign are the same as producing many other advertising campaigns; Establish branding, set goals, strategize and plan, design assets, implement, measure, analyze, optimize and repeat. These steps take industry knowledge, tested theories, creative strategy, and above all else time. The campaign process, in addition to the management, what comes with customer engagement on each platform, can be daunting to a new business owner. This is where a knowledgeable social media team comes into play. Whether it’s an in house team or an agency, a knowledgeable, experienced team can help shoulder the overwhelming daily grind of social media management and develop an optimized, strategic campaign to get you a significant return on your investment.

2.Social media marketing is free marketing.

While we all wish that social media marketing could be free, it just isn’t. Recent algorithm changes on many major platforms like Facebook have made the social media environment for businesses almost exclusively “pay to play.” This change in the algorithms has drastically devalued organic business content to nearly nothing.

What’s the difference between organic content and paid content? An organic post is a piece of content posted to a social media platform without monetary value placed behind it. A paid post is a piece of content posted to a social media platform that the business has paid to have served to several very specific people.

But what does all of this mean for you, a business owner? For business owners, this means that just making a post on your timeline won’t cut it. Your organic content will sit on your timeline, and very few if any of your audience will see it. The only realistic way to get around this is to utilize paid social. On most platforms, the more money you put behind your content, the more people within your selected demographic will see it.

Paid social ads and boosted posts often offer features that let you zero in on who sees your content to specifications as narrow as personal interests, location, and even who’s visited your website recently. This helps you get the most bang for your buck by getting your branded content in front of the customers who are most likely to use your product or service.

3.Your follower count is equivalent to your social media success.

Obsessively watching your follower or Page Like count will bring you nothing but heartache. While Page Likes and followers are a great bonus to have, it isn’t an accurate gauge of your social media marketing success. It’s considered a “vanity metric” or a metric that doesn’t hold very much, if any, weight in gauging success. Facebook is considering getting rid of the post and Page Likes all together. Because this metric is so often artificially manipulated, Facebook drastically reduced the value of the Page Like down to almost nothing. They devalued it so much so that if you post a piece of organic content to your Page only approximately, 10% of your Facebook followers will even see it at all.

So, if you’re a new or small business and you just don’t have that many Facebook Page Likes, don’t sweat it. While on some platform’s followers hold a little weight, the best way to track your social media success is through impressions, reach, and engagement metrics. This data tells you how often your content is being seen, how many individuals are seeing it, and if they are engaging with it (like, comment, share, retweet, etc.).

4.Social media alone will bring customers in the door.

This can be the most frustrating misconception for business owners. The truth of the matter is, seeing a single social media post or ad isn’t likely to drive a consumer to consider your brand over another. Think about it. When was the last time you discovered a new brand on social media and immediately bought their product without consuming any more information or advertising from their brand? Probably never.

Social media marketing falls in the middle of the marketing funnel, and the marketing funnel is a well-oiled machine. All the moving parts work together to encourage a consumer to consider your brand over others when they have a want or need without a solution. Social media marketing is just one of those parts. The goal is to get your brand and message in front of your prospective customers as many times as possible. Then when they are making a move to find a solution to their want or need, they will consider your brand over your competitions. Social media is a handy tool to generate brand awareness and essentially get your consumer’s attention for a fleeting moment. Then when they want a product or service that you provide, they are more likely to choose your brand because they’ve seen it before and are familiar with how you’re different from your competition. Without strategic and complete use of the complete marketing funnel, you cannot expect very much success.

5.My business doesn’t need social media.

All businesses can benefit from some form of social media marketing. If you think about it most of us have our phone glued to our faces at all times. That includes business owners. So, if your company primarily does business with other businesses, it’s still a great way to get in front of and start conversations with potential clients. That being said, not all companies benefit from ALL social media platforms. Find out where your consumers are spending time. If you’re looking to connect with business professionals or business owners, try focusing your efforts on Linkedin and Facebook. If you’re trying to get your brand in front of Gen Z, try focusing your efforts on Snapchat, Instagram or even TikTok. Social media marketing professionals can help you build and implement strategies on the right platforms to foster the most success.

6.I’m not seeing quick results; it’s time to give up.

Above all else, be patient. Building an audience, credibility, and brand awareness through social media takes time and diligent work. Most platforms provide extensive detailed data making it easy to closely track your social media success and calculate your return on investment over time. Success doesn’t come overnight.

In all, social media marketing can be an extremely beneficial addition to your overall marketing and advertising plan. With an open mind and a knowledgeable team of experts on your side, we know that any business can benefit from utilizing social media marketing. We hope that we were able to clear up any misconceptions you might have had and answer some of your most burning social media marketing questions. If you have any other questions or would like to get your business’s social media marketing success started, please feel free to contact us.