I hear this all the time from clients and prospects;

I want you to create a viral marketing campaign that’ll really send my brand over-the-top

OK, first, I can’t guarantee a post, white paper, image, infographic or other piece of content will go viral. Nobody can and if they say they can, make them back it up with some money. Of course, I can use elements “likely” to make a post go viral, but I wouldn’t want to bet real money on the whims of social media folks.

A good example of a campaign that went viral is Roto Rooter’s Pimped Out John contest, depicted in the image on this post. The image is so outlandish, folks just HAVE to talk about it.

But, the bigger question is: When content goes viral, does it HELP your brand?

And, too often, the answer is: NO!

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post: Myths about social media

Myths about social media

Myth #1: Content that goes viral impacts your ROI

Unfortunately, this is a myth. And a waste of precious resources when there’s little or no impact on your bottom line. Don’t forget, you’re not in business to spread your message. You’re in business to create profits. Any actions that don’t translate into profits (in the long run, let’s not be stupid and only consider ROI during the campaign), are a waste of time and money.

Lots of cases show viral marketing content doesn’t necessarily bring in profits. For instance, the California Raisin commercials were a serious success for the ad agency and merchandisers who used the claymation raisin on apparel and dolls, but didn’t sell many raisins (which hurt the CA Raisin board which paid for the campaign).

And, things can go viral — in the wrong direction. For instance, when Acer Computers Tweeted an image of a seductive women, it went viral. The image created a maelstrom of controversy among folks who viewed the Tweets as sexist, which reduced sales.

Viral content generates market performance when 1) it reaches mainly folks in your target market and 2) motivates them to do something (ultimately, buying your brand).

Myth #2: Having lots of fans increases your ROI

Again, sorry. No. There’s little correlation between the SIZE of your social network and ROI.

In fact, most folks who “Like” you on Facebook NEVER come back to your brand page and most Twitter followers NEVER see your Tweets.

The size of your network doesn’t even help your content go viral.

For your social networks to impact ROI, they must 1) be mainly your target market; 2) be engaged with your brand so they pass along your content, create content supporting your brand and buy your brand.

Disney is a good example of an engaged social network where community members help the brand by being loyal, spreading and creating Disney content, and helping new members get the most from their Disney experience. They even provide unintentional feedback Disney uses to improve their offerings.

Examples of firms committed to this myth abound. For instance, I downloaded Hubspot’s social media analytics framework and it focused entirely on assessing the size of your social networks, not your performance on these networks.

Myth #3: Sentiment analysis is a good measure of how your brand is doing

Again, sorry. That’s wrong.

Not only is sentiment analysis incomplete, it’s not valid — meaning results have little to do with actual sentiment. Another study found automated sentiment analysis no more accurate than flipping a coin! Wow.

In one test, only 33% of results were correctly classified and the results gleaned for analysis were sorely limited, suggesting many other brand mentions were ignored by the tool.

Now this data is a couple of years old, but things haven’t improved much, based on my experiences with top sentiment analysis tools.

Of course, the problem should be obvious — garbage in/ garbage out. If your data are not accurate, any decisions you make based on that data are equally bad.

Myth #4: You can do social media marketing in 30 minutes a day

Wow, I wish that were true. Then I could spend the rest of my day sunning on my yacht in the Caribbean. Actually, I don’t have a yacht, but if I only had to spend 30 minutes a day/client I could have enough clients to afford one.

I’m not quite sure where this myth came from, but it falls in the category of things that are too good to be true, generally are.

While I don’t spend hours a day on Twitter, I DO spend hours a day with my content marketing calendar and on my analytics for each client (that’s why I’m always hiring new community managers to help). Creating and curating fresh, valuable, unique content is the key to successful social media marketing. There’s no shortcut or substitute and Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm was the nail in the SEO coffin ensuring content is king.

Creating content means READING — a LOT. Every day I read 6-10 blog posts, check out my Twitter stream and Facebook feed and scan through Google Insights for Business for trends in social media marketing. I also read through several news sites to get information about what’s going on in the larger world. Each of my community managers does the same for their clients. Without this, we’d just rehash old stuff and soon lose relevance.

I also get an overview of the analytics for EACH client EVERY day. I dive down into the analytics reports once a week to tweak client’s programs and ensure their strategy is optimized based on how their networks respond to content we uploaded during the week.

Need help overcoming these myths?

Whether you need a complete social media marketing strategy or some consulting to optimize your existing social media marketing, we can fill your digital marketing funnel or create your brand — online and off. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. Let us create a viral marketing campaign that really delivers ROI. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.

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