9 bogus claims by social media charlatans

It’s time to unmask the ‘gurus’ and ‘ninjas,’ dismantling their wayward assertions and offering some valid guidance about online marketing.

Have you ever wondered whether you’re following the right advice about social media?

You’ve implemented a social media strategy that you found online. Or you purchased a product from someone who calls himself or herself an expert, but you don’t get the promised results. You receive one or two “likes” or new followers a day, as well as a few comments on your blog posts. You get frustrated and wonder what you’re doing wrong.

“99.5 percent of the people that walk around and say they are a social media expert or guru are clowns. We are going to live through a devastating social media bubble.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

Maybe you’ve crossed paths with a social media expert who wasn’t trustworthy. Before you knew it, you spent every waking hour on social media with no results, only frustration.

What can you do? You can use the following as a guide to help you spot red flags early on.

1. “The more you post, the more people will ‘like’ and follow you.”

Quality is what matters, not quantity.

Sharing information that isn’t helpful to your community is a waste of time for everyone. Just because you share a wealth of information doesn’t mean others will like or follow you; repin, stumble, etc. your posts. Answer and ask questions. Share information that adds value and is useful.

“Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community.” — Simon Mainwaring

2. “You can measure social media ROI.”

This isn’t completely true or false. Facebook, Twitter, and other networks provide you with statistics for the week, month, and year, but how can you accurately measure your ROI?

For example, let’s say you’re at a nonprofit and post a campaign on Facebook for your upcoming fundraiser, and you notice that the campaign has reached 20,000+ people and has been shared more than 400 times, there’s a good chance that you’ll raise more funds this year compared with last year.

But how do you measure your ROI?

You look at the number of times people have commented, liked, and shared your campaign.

You talk to people at your fundraiser and ask them, “How did you hear about our fundraiser?” They’ll either say, “I like your Facebook page and follow you on Twitter and saw your post about today’s fundraiser,” or, “I saw your post on a friend’s Facebook page.”

By surveying people, you could measure your ROI from social media.

If you post a Facebook ad, you could use the site’s Conversion Measurement tool to assist you with tracking the behavior of customers who click on your ads.

For example, if a customer clicks on your ad, is taken to your website, and buys something or signs up, you’d have proof that your Facebook ad was effective. There’s your ROI.

3. “You must use social media for your business!”

Your website is your home base, and online networks are more like vacation homes. You visit them throughout the year, but they’re not your permanent residence.

If you invest most of your time on social media and neglect your website, you’ve made a huge mistake. Why? Any major online network—from Twitter to Facebook, from Pinterest to Google+, and others—could go away today. What happens to all the content and media you’ve uploaded to that vanishing social media site? It goes away, too.

4. “If you build it, they will come.”

This worked in the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams”-but that had a script.

If you join Twitter, Facebook, etc. and spend hours trying to build a social media community, there is no guarantee that your target audience will show up. It takes more than tweeting and posting to Facebook. You must build a trusting relationship with your target audience by giving them valuable information. Slowly begin marketing your products and services, but be careful about overselling.

5. “The more blog comments you have the better.”

Conversions, not blog comments, pay the bills.

If you’re in the personal development business, you’ll get more comments than someone in the light bulb business. Different industries have different needs. Your customers may simply consume content rather than share or comment on it. Don’t worry about the number of comments your blog gets. Focus on providing exceptional service and attracting new customers.

6. “You need thousands, if not millions, of ‘likes’ and follows, and over 500 contacts (LinkedIn).”

Looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile and seeing their 500+ contacts could make you feel defeated. Go to their fan page, and you might see they have over 20,000 fans. Head over to Twitter, and they could have over 5,000 followers. It’s enough to depress you.

Kick your depression to the curb, because in this instance, size does not matter, quality does. You have no idea whether contacts, followers, and “likes” represent high quality. They could be just for show. Heck, they could have been bought. Stop focusing on size, and focus on high-quality leads, “likes,” followers, and contacts.

7. “Got a new business? Build your brand on social media.”

If you’re starting a business, you need to build your brand before jumping onto social media.


If you don’t know what your brand is, how can you translate it to social media? You can’t. You should build your brand before you join any social networks. Social media is a tool to spread the message about your brand. Once you figure out what it is, start using social media to connect with your target audience.

8. “Social media replaces ‘old’ marketing techniques.”

Why throw out all your hard work on marketing that has paid off and continues to pay off in the form of new business and satisfied customers?

Social media is a tool, an extension of your current marketing strategy or system. Use it in conjunction with press releases, direct mail, blogs, email marketing, brochures, white papers, etc.

Remember the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Heed the warning. If you get rid of proven marketing systems and focus solely on social media, your business could suffer.

9. “You’ll get a ton of referrals and opportunities from social media.”

There’s no guarantee that you’ll receive referrals or other business opportunities because you use social media.

For example, if you’re a Web designer, followers will want to know what sets you apart from other Web designers. Do your websites get your customers more conversions? Write a case study comparing a client’s old Web design to the one you designed, and point out what you changed and how your redesign gets your client results.

You have to be vigilant and protect yourself and your money and time by knowing who the real social media experts are. Research people, and get to know them. Ask questions.

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