Sometimes I read the “rules” being written about social media marketing and think, “God bless this person for trying, but he must have never had a real job in his life.” And then these opinions get repeated and re-tweeted until these mindless jingles become part of the social media mantra. It’s time to bust the myth-makers, folks. Here are five beloved social media “rules” you should throw in the trash:
Myth number one: “To be effective in social media, you must give up control of the conversation.”
Why do you assume you ever HAD control of the consumer conversation? You didn’t, you don’t, and you won’t! So, in reality, nothing has changed. You don’t control consumers. On a good day, we only hope we can influence them.What DO marketers control? The message. Nothing has changed there either. The equity of a brand is usually a company’s most valuable asset. A core brand image must be tightly controlled, constantly nurtured, and tenaciously defended, no matter what communication channel you’re using.What HAS changed is that we can now more effectively listen to how people are responding to that marketing message and react to that response with speed and compassion.
Myth number two: “It’s all about the engagement.”

Another equally ridiculous variation is “It’s all about the conversation.” No, it’s not. It’s all about the MONEY.

Why are major brands pouring millions into social media marketing? Just to see how many followers they can get? Because they’re “nice people” who want to “engage?” PUH-LEEEZE. They are trying to make a return for their shareholders. And if they’re not, they should be fired.

Stop fooling yourself. If social media marketing does not contribute to brand equity and/or shareholder value, the dollars, the effort, and the “engagement” will stop. Marketers have been engaging with their customers since the dawn of advertising because it helps feed our families. Please, let’s be honest. We’re all just trying to make a buck. And that’s OK.

Myth number three: “Never sell.”

The reality is, everyone sells, all the time. Behind every business tweet is a person using social media to craft a personal brand image of friendliness, helpfulness, authenticity and intelligence so you will trust them and eventually buy from them. What’s wrong with that? As long as you don’t BLATANTLY SELL, I’m cool.

Myth number four: “Emphasize quality over quantity.”

Wrong. You must have both. You’re not going to earn much of a following if you only blog once a year … even if it’s a really, really good one! Look, this is not like buying a Mercedes Benz that you can drive around for years. In social media, the cars are free so drive like a wild man and if you crack one up, hop on another one and do it again. Quality counts but size matters, too.

Myth number five: “Social media is all about authenticity”

Social media is about being polite and likable. Nobody really wants you to be authentic and hear how bitchy you feel today because your husband snored all night.

Recently a bunch of Chris Brogan’s readers got on him because they thought he was too mean. Hell I loved it when the uber-blogger had a fit now and then. THAT’S authentic! But instead Chris announced he will try to be nicer … that’s what matters around these parts.

I think the goal of most people immersed in social media is the opposite of authenticity. Their goal is “try not to suck.” Everyone is doing their best to channel their inner Oprah. It’s a popularity contest, pure and simple. Call it what it is, folks.

So there you have it. Are you with me on this? Let me know what you think.

And no need to be polite. : )

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