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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jana Gross

3 myths about social media marketing

Why you should stop believing the following 3 myths about social media marketing:

  • Myth 1: Social media marketing is for free.

    • Myth 2: Social media marketing is for younger consumers, such as Millennials and Gen Z.

  • Myth 3: Social media marketing means being present on all social media platforms.

Social media can be a powerful tool for marketing communication either for your company or your personal brand as content creator. However, there is a lot of misinformation and misguidance available about social media marketing. Oftentimes, this guidance seems reasonable, especially when being new to the topic of social media marketing. But, they often lead to poor social media strategies and marketing. This is not what you want! Here are three common myths about social media marketing and why you should stop believing them.

Myth 1: Social media marketing is free.

While uploading content to social media profiles is free, creating content is not free. To create content that is credible, and thus content that is influential, requires thoughts, effort, and time. Companies and content creators invest a lot of time and energy to create high-quality content in terms of technical quality and message quality.

For example, professional content creators take from 30 minutes up to 2 hours for an Instagram post of high quality. This includes planning, staging and taking photos, choosing a photo, editing and lastly writing a caption to the post. On top of that comes additional costs, such as equipment costs or travel costs. This is the time needed for static content (i.e. photos), the time easily doubles for dynamic content (i.e. videos). The same applies to companies who decide to produce high-quality content in-house.

Before content can be created, you need a social media strategy. Without a proper social media strategy, you don’t know what kind of content to create. To be able to decide what kind of content to create, you need to know your target audience and where to find them. And again, developing, planning, and implementing a social media strategy takes thoughts, effort, and time. Social media is free in the sense that creating a profile doesn’t cost anything, but social media marketing is not free.

Myth 2: Social media marketing is for younger consumers, such as Millennials and Gen Z.

A very strongly held believe is that: “Only young people are on social media”. This is not true. Social media has changed the way of how we communicate for almost everyone. For example, many grandchildren talk to their grandparents on WhatsApp. On LinkedIn, you find users at different stages in their career, ranging from early university students to CEOs one year prior their retirement.

A study of the Pew Research Center shows how the demographics of the social media users has changed between 2005 and 2015. The usage among those 65 and older has more than tripled within the 15 years. While only 2% of those 65 and older used social media in 2005, 11% did so in 2010, and 35% did in 2015. The younger generations are the most likely to use social media. 90% of adults aged 18 to 29 and 77% of adults ages between 30 and 49 used social media in 2015. The study shows that older generations were increasingly present on social media as well.

A newer demographic published on eMarketer of 2019 shows that 90.4% of the US social media users are Millenials (~ early 1980 — mid 1990), 77.5% are Gen X (~ mid 1960s — early 1980), and 48.2% are Baby Boomers (~ mid 1940s — mid 1960s). While Millennials and Gen Z (~1997 — 2012) are often early adopters of new social media platforms, the older generations take longer to adapt new social media platforms. Social media platforms differ in their average user age, but that doesn’t mean that some generations are not present. So, social media marketing is not restricted to a specific generation.

Myth 3: Social media marketing means being present on all social media platforms.

It is important to be present on the channels where your customers or target audience is. It is better to be active on one social media platform with high-quality content rather than being active on several social media platforms and not having the energy and resources to maintain the platform properly. Developing, fostering, and maintaining a social media profile takes again a lot of time, thoughts, and commitment.

If you are starting your social media strategy or your social media brand, try to focus on one or two platforms and spend them all your attention rather than focusing on many platforms with half of your attention. It is better to start small and extend to another platform at a later stage.

Taken together, companies and content creators should consider the following points when developing a social media strategy:

  • Account for all costs: You should include all costs related to your social media presence. These include costs from the entire process (i.e. planning to implementation), but also equipment and additional man power.

  • Define your target group: You should think about who you want to target with your content and on which platform do you find them.

  • Focus on “Small, but finely made!” or as we say in German “Klein, aber fein!”: You are advised to greatly manage one platform than poorly managing several platforms.

No matter if you are managing a brand as a company or if you are a managing your personal brand as a content creator, social media marketing is the usage of social media applications and sites to communicate to your target audience.

Further readings on social media marketing: Perrin, A. (2015). Social media usage: 2005–2015. Pew Research Center.

eMarketer, (2019). US Social Media Users, by Generation, 2019.

Alalwan, A. A., Rana, N. P., Dwivedi, Y. K., & Algharabat, R. (2017). Social media in marketing: A review and analysis of the existing literature. Telematics and Informatics, 34(7), 1177–1190.

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