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8 social media myths to unlearn (and dispel across your organization)


You know how dogs wag their tails when they’re happy? Well, it turns out they actually don’t. Tail wagging can represent a variety of emotions, especially depending on the direction and speed of the dog’s tail.

Myths and misconceptions like these exist everywhere, but they’re incredibly common in topics that people feel familiar with. Take social media, for example. The more people use social, the more they think they understand the inner workings of social media marketing.

The result of this is a lot of social media myths that have gone unchecked. Some are harmless, but some can greatly impact how social media and marketing professionals work. That’s why marketing leaders need to equip themselves with the right information to get their teams up to speed.

To help, we used data from The Sprout Social Index™ and other sources to dispel eight common social media myths. Let’s get into it!

Myth #1: Memorable content makes brands best in class on social

“Let’s make this go viral!”

You’ve probably heard this or something like it from a well-meaning colleague or two. In a crowded social media landscape, everyone wants their turn in the spotlight. This desire for mass awareness is why many marketers believe creating memorable social content is the most important aspect of becoming best in class. Consumers, on the other hand, think otherwise.

The Index found 51% of consumers believe responding to customers makes brands memorable on social. Prioritizing original content over trends and audience engagement also make consumers take notice.

Data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™ showing what consumers think makes brands memorable on social media. Over half say responding to customers makes brands memorable on social. Some 38% say prioritizing original content and 37% say audience engagement.

While this may be surprising to your greater organization, it’s also a helpful way to reset some internal expectations. After all, virality is more luck than strategy.

Next time someone asks you to add “going viral” to your to-do list, here are some more impactful action items you can offer instead:

Speed up your social media response time

Nearly 70% of consumers expect responses within 24 hours or less on social. Improving your social media response time can assist customer retention while giving your brand a competitive edge.

Data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™. In 2023, nearly 70% of consumers expect responses within 24 hours or less. In 2022, 77% of consumer expected a response within 24 hours.

But timeliness is only a prerequisite to consumer expectations for customer care on social. Index data shows 70% of consumers expect brands to provide personalized responses to customer service needs. We also found 76% of consumers notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support. This means teams must be proactive to achieve high quality customer care.

Create an escalation management strategy

Preventative measures like outlining an escalation management strategy creates a process for responding to timely issues–good or bad. Highlighting a response protocol along with example scenarios will help your organization understand how to manage the concerns people surface on social. Remember: You can never be too prepared.

Integrate your social media management platform across your martech stack

To provide the most effective service on social and achieve the personalization customers seek, marketers need visibility into the end-to-end customer experience. Drafting a social media management integration plan can help remove the digital silos that prevent your team from offering superior service.

Myth #2: Follower count is a vanity metric

People have called follower count a vanity metric ever since buying followers in bulk rose to popularity in the early 2010s. On the surface, this argument makes sense. After all, what does a high follower count matter if your engagement rate is low?

As it turns out, it can count for quite a bit.

Writing follower count off as a fluff metric lacks some critical nuance. Mainly, it doesn’t account for the “90-9-1 rule”. According to this rule, only 1% of social media users create content, 9% share, like and comment on that original content and 90% of users simply lurk. Lurkers may not contribute to your overall engagement rate, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.

Our Index data shows 68% of consumers primarily follow brands on social to discover new products and services, followed by having access to exclusive promotions (46%) and entertaining content (45%). Just because they’re not liking or commenting doesn’t mean they’re not gathering information that can eventually drive buying decisions.

Myth #3: Consumers aren’t heavily swayed by influencer marketing

Our Q3 2023 Pulse Survey of 309 US-based marketers found 79% of marketers describe influencer content as necessary for their customers’ experiences, and 81% describe influencer marketing as an essential part of their social media strategy. The data also reveals social marketers rate influencer marketing as having a significant impact on their brand’s efforts including brand awareness (89%), increased brand reputation (87%) and customer loyalty (87%).

Consumers are looking for authentic, engaging content and collaborating with the right influencers can help achieve that genuinity. In our LinkedIn influencer marketing roundtable, Peter Kennedy, founder of Tagger, emphasized how influencer content often fuels higher engagement than branded content. Lia Haberman, Insider’s Top Creator Economy Expert, also shared several examples of influencers doubling and tripling engagement in our webinar, Making Dollars and Sense Out of the Creator Economy.

But to reap the benefits of influencer marketing, identifying the right influencers is key. The influencer identification process is one component of measuring influencer marketing return on investment. Another common misconception surrounding influencer marketing is that they can’t be used across the customer journey. When most people think of influencer marketing, they imagine purchase-stage content like product reviews and tutorials, but marketers can partner with these digital trendsetters across the entire customer journey.

Myth #4: Social data is strictly a marketing resource

Social data is invaluable when it comes to informing team decisions, but savvy brands know it can be used for much more. The 2023 State of Social Media Report reveals that organizations view social data as a multi-team strategy resource, expanding its impact well beyond the assumed marketing silo.

Brands are using social media data to inform their organization’s business strategy from customer service and brand awareness to lead generation and product development. The report also found 95% of business leaders agree companies must rely more heavily on social media insights to inform business decisions outside of marketing.

Although leaders agree social data is a valuable resource beyond marketing efforts, nearly 7 in 10 agree that social data and insights are underutilized. However, a majority say they plan to use social data more in the next three years.

Data visualization from the 2023 State of Social Media Report. A majority (95%) of business leaders agree companies must rely more heavily on social media insights to inform business decisions outside of marketing. Nearly 7 in 10 leaders agree social data and insights are underutilized, but a majority say they plan to use social data more in the next three years.

This signals the current era in social media management software where analytics are used for proactive decision making. From product development to customer support, social data can answer the most important questions about how to manage and expand a business across every department.

Grammarly, for example, uses social listening insights to surface valuable user stories for their product and user experience teams. With Sprout’s Social Listening tool, they turn feedback from priority platforms into actionable recommendations for the business.

If companies want to dispel this social media myth once and for all, they’ll need to rethink how other parts of the organization see social. Start by identifying areas of your business that can benefit from social insights, and build your organization-wide social listening strategy from there.

Myth #5: Social marketers have perfected video production

The value of video on social cannot be understated. The 2023 Content Benchmarks Report shows over two thirds of consumers (66%) find short-form video the most engaging content format, followed by static posts. However, with limited bandwidth and resources, video production still feels out of reach for many social marketers.

While there have been several advancements in remote video production tools over the past few years, for some it can still feel like too much to take on. But marketers can’t afford to abandon video completely. Social networks are rolling out more video-focused features, so demands for video content creation will only rise. Getting ahead of these requests by preemptively growing your team can help brands maintain an engaging social presence while mitigating the risk of burnout.

If your team isn’t able to fully embrace the role of video in your social content strategy, it may be time to build a case for expansion. Consider how to optimize your video conversion rate to help secure more buy-in and resources.

Myth #6: You need to be on every social media platform

Our benchmarks report shows that nearly half (46%) of marketers cite new platforms as a challenge when planning and scheduling content. But your brand doesn’t need to be on every social media platform. Meeting your target audience where they already are matters more than trying to balance content on every network.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider emerging networks like Threads or rising technologies like the metaverse, but brands don’t need to hop on every new wave. Focus on nurturing quality across your relevant networks and experiment as needed.

Index data shows 64% of social media teams are organized by network. This means one team member may be responsible for TikTok while another focuses on Instagram. But with frequent changes to the social media landscape, this approach may dissolve in the future.

As new platforms emerge and consumer preferences shift, staffing team members to specific networks can create both gaps and redundancies.

Myth #7: Artificial intelligence will replace marketing roles

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing has sparked enthusiasm and skepticism. With more organizations implementing AI in social media, some marketers fear being replaced. But our Index data disproves this social media myth: more than 80% of marketers say AI has already had a positive impact on their work.

There are so many AI use cases in marketing from scheduling and posting to ad reporting. In 2024, marketers plan to use AI to support social media data analysis, content creation, campaign targeting and more.

Data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™ highlighting artificial intelligence's (AI) current impact and expected growth in 2024. In order, marketers plan to use AI to support analyzing social media data, content creation, social advertising and campaign targeting, social scheduling and posting, building chat bots, measurement and sentiment analysis.

But you don’t have to wait until the new year to invest and adopt because the future of AI in marketing is here. Chief marketing officers are successfully reaping efficiency gains by using AI in marketing to support brainstorming and other tasks.

Myth #8: Third-party platforms harm post visibility on Facebook

There’s been a lot of discourse surrounding whether third-party social media management platforms that offer scheduling and publishing functionality negatively impact post visibility and engagement. The short answer is no.

There aren’t many studies on the topic, but it’s important to note it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason a post was successful because there are so many variables. Each social media network has its algorithm and requirements for extending reach and engagement. For example, Facebook users once had the option to hide content scheduled via third-party apps. However, this feature was removed by Meta on November 15, 2023.

Social media myths, busted

It’s easy for people to get caught up in what they think to be true, especially when they’re not keeping tabs on the constant evolution in social media. Advocate for your team by continuing to debunk these common social media myths. Tapping into the power of social doesn’t just benefit your team’s marketing efforts—it benefits your entire organization.

For more insights on the landscape of social media is changing, download The Sprout Social Index. Inside, you’ll find more research on how businesses are using social media to set themselves apart from their competitors and meet tomorrow’s customer expectations today.

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