5 myths about social media

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded  |

Social media has become the cornerstone for many businesses’ strategy in getting new customers, especially among small business. It is true that social media can help significantly, your bottom line if used properly. The key phrase is “used properly”. Unfortunately, many businesses have bought into the myth that social media is “marketing” and that it is “free”. Neither are true. Here are a few lies that are circulating about social media. This list comes from Penelope Trunk, author and entrepreneur. I will paraphrase and add in my viewpoints, but, for the most part, I agree with her assessment.

1. Linkedin is for networking – Most people understand that networking is an important part of growing a business. This is more true for start ups than large established companies. Most people believe that a great networking tool is Linkedin. Sorry to burst your bubble, is not. Networking is built on relationships. Relationships are built on conversations. Linkedin is not made for conversations. Linkedin’s real asset is being able to display your network. The concept of “it’s who you hang out with” that Linkedin gains it’s value. You have to build your network offline before you can leverage it online. For example, it’s common to get a “Recommend Me” request via Linkedin from someone you’ve only met once or even not at all. They only know you virtually. That is not a real recommendation. That is not real networking.

2. Twitter is for conversation – Twitter is a great index of finding people with like interests. It used to be that you needed to go through laborious searches or talk to everyone at a conference just to find a few people with like interests. Twitter makes that easy, now. What Twitter isn’t is a conversation tool for networking. You need way more than 140 characters to carry on a meaningful conversation. As stated before, conversation is what true networking is. You still need to go offline to solidify the Twitter touchpoint in order to really call them a colleague and have them as a genuine contact.

3. Blogs are personal journals – The real purpose of a blog (as it pertains to networking and business) is for you to show the world how you think and why you think it. It forces you to think in a disciplined way on how you organize and express your thoughts about your company, your products, the marketplace, and even yourself. Blogging is not networking. Networking is a two way street, not a one way monolog. As Penelope puts it, “The blogosphere is a cocktail party for the intelligentsia. Make sure you are a part of that so that you can help shape ideas as they grow. There’s no better tool for PR than wielding influence as a blogger.” It’s best at PR, not networking. We use blogs as a way to display to prospects and clients how we think about marketing. If they like what they read, we get a shot at their business. That’s PR, not networking.

4. With social media, you can get people to [fill in the blank] – Social media is about being giving and being generous. Asking them to “download this” or “test out our free that”, is not giving. Giving is asking people how you can help them reach their goals, both personal and professional. Penelope recommends that you should read up on someone enough so you can get to know them a little better and see how you can help with better understanding of who they are. That’s real giving. Getting someone to do something is all fine and good, but that’s marketing, not social media.

5. It’s free – Just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you’re effective. The trap that most small business fall into is they use social media as their marketing because it’s “free”. They get thousands of “likes”, tens-of-thousands of hits on their web site, and gazillions of followers. Ask those same people about how many of those “virtual friends” are real network partners, many will have to admit they have relationships with only less than 5% of their “contacts”. To get excellent at social media, you need skill, insight, and most of all, discipline. Like any tool, it takes a professional approach to leverage it for all it’s worth. A chainsaw in the hands of an amateur is just a hack job. Excellent social media professionals charge a fee. It’s not free. Even if you or your company does it themselves, there is time investment. That’s time you’re not selling and really networking and that’s money not finding it’s way to you.

Don’t use social media as a crutch for real networking. You still have to put in the sweat equity in actually meeting real people and spend time getting to know them. Finally, don’t fall into folly of thinking social media is marketing. It is not. Marketing is about helping make sales easier and reaching potential customers. Social media is about giving, not selling.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

6 Responses to “5 myths about social media”

  1. Thanks for this valuable info. A perspective I’ve not really considered, but I see the truth. You have just laid it out in plain English. As for LinkedIn, I don’t find it to be friendly, now I know why. As for Twitter, I see now that my opinion is correct. It’s just a push of info. And now I know why I like FB the best. I like to talk. LOL And free is my favorite word, but doing Social Media for free has gotten me nowhere fast. I see why. Thanks for this confirmation.

    • Kathy– Thank you very much for taking time to read my blog. I’m glad you were able to glean information that is useful to your orthotic company. You’re absolutely right about FB. Many people like to talk and that’s their big appeal.

      If there is anything I can be of service to you, please feel free to contact me. I will gladly share what I know. Best Wishes and continued success. –Tony

  2. Nicely stated Tony! I think so many use social media as a replacement for personal interaction. Electronic interaction can serve as a reminder of a offline relationship but your exactly right it has to start offline for social media to be effective. I really appreciate the way you stated #5 so many clients under value the investment in time and feel they can outsource social media for less money than they value their own time and have it be as effective at creating loyal fans. Nice job Tony.

    Chris Reed
    Cast A Bigger Net
    social marketing Company Indianapolis

    • Chris – I thank you for your comments and for taking time to read this entry. It’s refreshing to hear a digital company understanding that it still takes real human connection and not hide behind your computer all day.

      Being a digital company, I would be interested to know how Cast A Bigger Net integrates online and offline marketing. It would be enlightening to me and my readers. –Tony

  3. Online and offline marketing for us starts as an extension of the clients brand and adds value to it. Both integrate in reinforcing a customers experience and attracting prospects to create an experience with our clients brand. We enjoy the online engagement that social media creates with fans and strangers, to have the chance to know how people feel and react gives great insight. Ultimately the goal is to create a dialog with the public that causes better service, loyal fans and builds the company. We live in a great time! Thanks again Tony for your wisdom and spirit of abundance. You are a true giver! Keep up the great work!


    • Chris – Thank you for sharing how you and Cast A Bigger Net views online/offline integration. I whole-heartedly agree that social media allows two-way dialog between a brand and their customers. You also bring up something that is often overlooked, improved customer service. If your customers are able to tell you exactly what they want, it makes it easier to deliver it to them.

      Thank you for your kind words as well. It means a lot, coming from such a knowledgable colleague. Everyone, if you get a chance, please check out CastABiggerNet.net. You won’t be disappointed.

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