I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Planable — the leading content review and collaboration platform for social media teams.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to state that the social media of 2022 is very different from the social media of the mid to late aughts. In the early days, social media was new, scattered and hardly a place where people got everything they needed. However, in time, it steadily evolved into a centralized network with its own specialists and literature. From brands’ perspectives, social media has evolved from a “nice to have” to “we should really, really be there.”
Even so, there are many myths surrounding social media marketing—some new, others mere leftovers from a time when social media was still uncharted territory. And every marketer worth their salt will agree that the biggest obstacle to successful social media marketing is misinformation.
This piece will go over some of the most common social media marketing myths and (briefly) deconstruct them.
Myth 1: Posting At Specific Times Helps
A lot of ink has been spilled on the benefits of posting at specific times on social media. That is partly true but not for the reasons some people think.
This myth’s origin can be traced back to 10+ years ago when social media networks still used chronological feeds. It all changed in 2009 when Facebook rolled out an update that would fundamentally alter the way users consume social media content. Long story short, instead of displaying posts in chronological order, they would now be sorted according to engagement. Instagram followed suit in 2016, and the rest is history.
At first glance, these changes effectively made posting at specific times worthless, as users would now be fed the most popular posts. But there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Posting within particular time frames does help, but not because it triggers some hidden mechanism deep within the algorithm that increases engagement. Rather, it all comes down to the engagement your content will get in the first few hours after it’s live. So posting whenever your audience is most active can help in that regard. In other words, what marketers should aim for is not “time” but timing.
Myth 2: Publishing Through Third-Party Tools Decreases Reach
Social media’s growing importance in the marketing ecosystem has naturally spawned the need for third-party management tools. It’s a cycle that all industries go through. As an industry matures and the production values go up, workers need tools to do their jobs effectively.
In this case, that job entails planning, creating and pushing content regularly to dozens of platforms, a logistical hurdle that social media marketing tools are looking to solve. I was one of the entrepreneurs who, back in 2016, took their shot at this market by founding Planable.
Over the years, I have noticed the myth regarding third-party tools decreasing reach gaining more and more momentum, and the truth is that they don’t do that. Well, they did, back in 2011, but Facebook has since solved that issue. Various research conducted over the years shows that third-party tools do not negatively impact reach, and in the cases where the numbers were lower, the data was statistically insignificant.
Myth 3: Social Media Is Real-Time With No Planning
Social media is inherently reactive by nature—there’s no denying that. To confirm this statement, all one has to do is tap on Twitter’s search icon and scroll through the trending topics. If something major happened, chances are, by the time you tap on that magnifying glass, hundreds of thousands of people have memed that event to oblivion.
This sense of immediate reactivity spawned the assumption that good social media marketing is always real-time and never pre-planned. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, there are some great examples of real-time social media marketing. The first that comes to mind is Twitter’s “hello literally everyone” tweet during Meta’s (Facebook at the time) historic outage. It’s such a brilliantly simple piece of social media marketing.
But here’s the kicker: even that seemingly spur-of-the-moment tweet was likely planned. It looked spontaneous because Twitter designed it to appear as such. It’s not a stretch to imagine that, following the outage, Twitter summoned its social media team to an emergency meeting and had its specialists pore over every single syllable of that tweet.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, all social media strategies should account for real-time reactions, but that’s only a component out of many. That real-time part should have some planning to it because spontaneous inspiration can seem genius and go viral or can seem genius and stir up a big backlash.
Myth 4: Brands Can’t Be Funny On TikTok
To say that TikTok took the world by storm in the early 2020s is an understatement. In just a couple of years, TikTok achieved the level of cultural ubiquity that other social media platforms worked for years to acquire. And as its meteoric rise slowed down from a sprint to a marathon, even the most vocal skeptics concluded that TikTok is here to stay. This has prompted brands to elevate TikTok from the outlier of their social media marketing strategies to the main player.
Yet the notion that brands can’t be funny on TikTok is still kicking around. Granted, TikTok has a particular type of humor that is difficult to pin down. However, skilled social media marketers have found ways to mesh TikTok’s particular brand of humor and culture with their business interests and actively engage with TikTok users.
Still, I want to take this occasion to highlight how a particular organization broke into TikTok. I’m talking about a little-known newspaper called The Washington Post. You wouldn’t think a traditional, hard news publication known for exposing the intricacies of Washington, D.C., politics would have a place on TikTok, but somehow, it made it work.
So, there you have it: four common social media marketing myths explained. As with anything in life, nothing is ever cut and dry regarding social media marketing. The best way to find out what works for your brand is to experiment, analyze and iterate. Relying on myths is not only counterproductive, but it can also squander long-term efforts.