6 Blatant Lies You Are Being Sold about Social Media

Share this:

By: Hillel Fuld

Someone has to seriously put an end to all this insanity. The problem with the Web in general is that everything is black and white. It is either great or terrible. This is true about so many industries. Take for example the mobile space. Every phone that comes out is either an “iPhone Killer” or it is so 2010 and does not belong in a market with the iPhone. Is there no middle ground?

This same problem applies to social media, and the buzz around this new platform is unparalleled and in my opinion, unwarranted (OK, maybe not completely). Before you kill me for saying that, trust me when I tell you, you do not know many people who spend as much time on Twitter as me, or who have seen the potential this new media platform can produce, the way I have.

Whether you are in Sales, Marketing, or just looking to network, social media can be the smartest move you ever made. However, the buzz has got to stop. It is not real and it is not true. Yes, if done right, social media can produce unprecedented results, but a small minority of people really see the full blown results and potential of social media. It needs to be said and you need to know that the evangelists who are spreading the word about social media are almost always misguided and misguiding you and me.

There are so many falsehoods being thrown around when it comes to the social Web, I thought I would address a few of them:

1: Standalone Solution: “Social Media Marketing”, one of the more annoying phrases coined over the last decade, and possibly as annoying as “Social media guru”. That is an accomplishment. Last night I tweeted this after seeing someone’s tweet talking about how amazing social media is. That led me to write this post. Yes, using social media to promote a product is effective, but not without traditional marketing to provide it with very necessary support. Whether we are talking about measuring conversions, traditional press releases, or old school public relations, social media has not eliminated the need for traditional marketing. On the flip side, traditional marketing cannot exist in a vacuum, and in today’s dynamic world, there is no excuse for any company not to have some sort of presence online.

2: Free: Social media in most of its forms, is indeed free. What is not free is the amount of time and effort needed to make your social media efforts produce any real results. Take one of the most famous social media campaigns ever, the Old Spice campaign. The campaign was indeed distributed using free tools such as Twitter and Youtube, but if you think for a second that the content of that campaign was not created by professionals who cost the company a small fortune, you are kidding yourself. Yes, there have been uses of social media that did not cost money directly, but even in those cases, we are generally talking about a lot of time and professionalism on the part of the involved entity, that costs money.

3: Marketing Platform: For the love of God people, stop spamming on Twitter. I am not talking about the type of spammer to sell Viagra, but rather the people who use Twitter and social media to broadcast and promote all day and all night. Zero engagement, zero value, and the direct consequence, zero results. Yes, we have all heard about the big companies using Twitter for sales, but guess what? They actually engage their audience, that is how they increase sales. Today, the person running a company’s social accounts has replaced the representative at a retail store. A company’s face to the world is now their Twitter bio and profile. How would you like it if you walked into a retail store and were immediately attacked by a representative who was screaming in your face “BUY BUY BUY”. Not too much, huh? Well, don’t do it on Twitter either.

4: Immediate Results: If you want immediate sales, an immediate increase in revenue, you can forget about this “magical” solution called social media, it aint gonna happen. This has got to be the largest and most dangerous misconception about social media. It is also probably the one that caused the most people to lose their job. If you are new to social media, I will generalize and say that you cannot expect significant and tangible results for at least six months. If you are a rock star and are truly the exception, maybe you will start seeing results after four months, not before. So next time you call yourself a Social Media Expert after having a Facebook page for 25 seconds that has 12 likes, think twice about what you’re promising, it might backfire on you.

5: Part Time: Remember the 4-6 month time period I mentioned above? That is true when you are dedicating yourself 100% to your social media activity and online presence. You want a 9-5 job? Go be an accountant. If you think you can send 4 tweets a day, Like three pages, and see any type of results, you are sorely mistaken and will quickly learn that the time you wasted on social media, might have been better spent on designing a newspaper ad or writing the content for a TV commercial. You want to use social media to promote and market your company or product? Expect to lose a lot of sleep for the first few months.

6: No ROI: OK, I know what you’re thinking, “This social media thing does not sound like it’s for me and my business, after all, my customers are not even the target audience”. Guess what? You are wrong, very wrong. With very few exceptions, you can increase conversions, create tremendous brand awareness, and even make direct sales using social media. When I started working at inneractive a few months ago, after consulting with some very smart friends, I put together a marketing strategy that can basically be summed up in two words. “Provide value”. I decided I was going to start a company blog and write about the industry, not about the company. Obviously, when there is news about our product, the blog would be a platform to let people know, but 9/10 posts would be about the space and offer true value. Now, five months later, without using the blog to sell, it is selling. The conversions are happening, the revenues increasing, and our customers could not be happier. Feel free to talk to me about it on Twitter. I am @hilzfuld.

Just to summarize, I want to make it very clear that there are not many people out there who believe in the power of social media more than me. But, the thing about social media is that it is no more than a means to an end. It is no better than a car that is helping you arrive at your destination. If used properly, you will get their faster than any bicycle can get you there. If abused, social media can single handedly kill your brand and damage any marketing efforts you have made in the past and even the future. Use it wisely and stop spreading dangerous lies.

Share this:


Hillel Fuld is a global speaker, entrepreneur, journalist, vlogger, and leading startup advisor. He brings over a decade of marketing experience with leading Israeli and Silicon Valley startups, and currently collaborates with many global brands in an official marketing capacity including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and others.      Hillel covers the dynamic local tech scene for many leading publications including Entrepreneur magazine, Inc, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.    Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, 7th top tech blogger worldwide, has been featured on CNBC, Inc, and was dubbed by Forbes as “The Man Transforming Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation”.       Hillel has hundreds of thousands of followers across the social web and can be found on Twitter at @Hilzfuld. You can learn more about him on his website: www.hilzfuld.com


10 thoughts on “6 Blatant Lies You Are Being Sold about Social Media

  1. Awesome article. I personally am sick of so many self proclaimed “Social Media Experts” tweeting and posting on facebook day after day about how much they love social media, and how it is the best thing since sliced bread. I agree – Social Media is effective but only when used properly with traditional marketing.

    I also like your point about twitter usage – so many people think social media is simply using twitter and facebook, but you have to do so effectively. Which is a lot of work.

    I am a social media consultant and I don’t even consider myself an expert! haha. Great article. Thanks 🙂

  2. Fantastic post, #3 is what kills me about people using social media for business purposes. Excellent correlation in saying you wouldn’t want to walk into a retail store and somebody approaching you saying buy buy buy.

    Great post!

  3. Lots to agree with here, but also lots to disagree with. First let me talk about the stuff I disagree with:

    “Yes, using social media to promote a product is effective, but not without traditional marketing to provide it with very necessary support.”

    I’ve worked on products that had no marketing budgets. But, with the power of simply reaching out to potential buyers over social channels, I was able to drum up interest. Granted, we didn’t see results instantly — but if you continue to monitor and respond, stuff happens.

    “Social media in most of its forms, is indeed free. ”

    While broadcasting is free, being able to effectively monitor and track results is NOT free. Google Analytics doesn’t cut it. The challenge with social media is being able to filter out the noise and being able to appeal to people at a granular level.

    “If you want immediate sales, an immediate increase in revenue, you can forget about this “magical” solution called social media, it aint gonna happen.”

    I agree with this one — for the most part. However, with the social media, the immediacy comes from customer service — that is to say people who have ALREADY purchased your product. Give someone an immediate response when they voice an opinion on your product, and they will tell their friends.

    “You want to use social media to promote and market your company or product? Expect to lose a lot of sleep for the first few months.”

    Very true. Especially when you consider the very unsexy things about social media — such as creating case studies and KPM reports.

    “But, the thing about social media is that it is no more than a means to an end.”

    It’s here that you and I disagree again. Social media tools may change. In fact, think of all of them that have become obsolete (CB radios, Usenet, Friendster, etc.). However, social media is a principle — a way to engage with media that is intrinsically social.

    Just as you would not use your telephone to send mass calls to everyone in your contact list, so you should not do so on Twitter. “Social Media” means engaging people on a human basis, and not as a faceless communicator. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you do not need the Internet to be social — after all, you don’t need an Internet connection to use a water cooler, right?

  4. Well put. Furthermore, they expect to hire an intern to perform those tasks, and are disappointed when it doesn’t work. Probably the interns fault… not the guys that hired him of course.

  5. You nailed this one, Hillel. I posted it to a professional list as part of a response about social media experts. Each of these 6 points are really priceless and so incredibly true! Thanks for putting it all down so so clearly!

  6. Thanks for this interesting article (and to Paula for bringing me here).
    Are you saying that you can’t expect business results from SM unless have someone working on it full-time for 6 months? Is that really in the reach of most small businesses???
    It seems like plenty of micro-businesses get a lot of exposure via social media that doesn’t directly result in ROI, but still it’s much easier to get it that way than via traditional PR. Does a story in a newspaper result in immediate ROI? Not usually. A really great blog post that goes minorly viral and gets 3,000 people to hear your name and 500 to your site is much easier to do than press releases and making nice to reporters, only to see that they mangled your story and misspelled your name. Measurable ROI on SM? Not always. But for PR, social media is incredible and doesn’t need to suck so much of your time.
    The other big value of social media is for networking and making friends with so many other professionals and helping each other out. It’s invaluable in this way, and doesn’t have to be a full-time job.
    I’m not criticizing your article, because you are certainly a much bigger expert than me. I’m just getting started so I’m just sharing my own thoughts out loud.

Comments are closed.