Social Media Marketing’s Biggest Myths

Social media is changing not only how brands and publishers market to consumers, but it is also changing the way that they operate altogether. This is the sixth article of an eight-part series dubbed “The Social Operating System,” which explores how advertisers, agencies and publishers are leveraging social media to build audience and engagement. The series is made possible through the sponsorship of Vitrue, a provider of social media management services.

Hype around social media marketing is rife, but the reality is both brands and agencies are still figuring out how best to navigate the channel. With that in mind, Digiday asked agency executives one simple question: What’s the biggest myth surrounding soial media marketing?

“The first myth is that social is primarily an ‘earned’ channel, and that this is somehow synonymous with free media. Yes, social thrives on a multiplier effect of people sharing and engaging with what is put out there, but that only happens with content that is inherently interesting and sharable. Interesting and sharable content may not need the high production budgets that some other content does, but it does need strategic and execution skills that are beyond what your intern will be able to whip up. This leads to myth number two, which states that social is primarily an exercise in branding and awareness. While that’s certainly one way to leverage social it is far from the only way – brands can solve real problems and achieve solid ROI though social. There are plenty of brands that have been very successful at extending customer service to the social realm. There have also been an increasing number of brands that have been able to leverage social to impact business results and solve tough challenges. With the right strategy social can be an effective traffic driver, sales generator, loyalty builder, prospect reacher, or all of the above.” — Noah Mallin, group director of social marketing, Digitas

“The biggest myth surrounding social media marketing today is that it works in isolation. Five or six years ago, a standalone YouTube video or Facebook app could have been relatively successful. Today, marketers must plan social media activations in conjunction with above and below-the-line campaign media spending. Most brands have invested in creating platform presences (e.g. Twitter handles and Facebook pages) and can now leverage those ecosystems efficiently. Marketers that don’t integrate channels or leverage platform expertise will end up paying a lot more for results than the competition.” — Peter Kim, chief strategy officer, Dachis Group.

“The biggest myth surrounding social media marketing is that it can be placed in a silo. Social media is part of nearly every media consumption experience as its active layer. It’s a customer support and service channel. It’s a consumer mindset. It’s a fundamental building block of nearly every new digital technology being developed. Separating it into a silo is a colossal mistake that will set brands back years in their learning. Social media must be integrated into every digital effort. Specialists can address certain aspects of social media, but it operates at massive – yet fragmented – scale. Social media and digital are now as enmeshed as creative and technology. Social media’s role in ROI is of amplifier and reverberator of passive and active advocacy. And it should be inseparable from any other form of digital or mobile marketing.” — Ian Schafer, CEO, Deep Focus

“The biggest myth is that social media is a marketing medium. The reality is social is a behavior, not a medium. In other words, it’s about the people, not the platforms. People have always been inherently “social.” They talk, create, share stories, hang out, and try new things. Social media allows them to do these things on a grander scale and in more engaging ways, but it’s all about people. The brands that succeed in the space start with a true understanding of how people interact with their brand (and each other), and then identify the stories, conversations, and experiences they can enable for their community. Only then should the platform discussion take place. Rather than asking, ‘what should we do on Pinterest?’ the better question is really, ‘how can Pinterest help us tell our story and build our community?” — Kunal Muzumdar, director of strategy, Possible Worldwide

“The biggest myth surrounding social media is that brands can drive a meaningful ROI by solely focusing on and engaging their owned communities. The active segments of even the largest and most engaged owned communities in the ‘socialsphere’ will never generate enough scale to create meaningful business results. Instead, brands need to effectively identify and activate all consumer touch points to drive sharing and word of mouth at a level that actually moves the proverbial needle.” — Matt Britton,  CEO, MRY