Welcome to Part 1 of a multi-part series. Inspired, because digital marketers can talk a LOT of s**t.

I’ll hold my hands up now – I’ve been guilty of a couple of these in the past. Learn from my mistakes. Here goes – the first 5:

“You NEED to be on [Periscope / Ello / We Heart It / etc.]!”

To be honest, you probably don’t.

Well, not unless there’s a compelling business case to be. Is there? How do you know?

And by business case, we mean a case that shows that this is an effective way to reach your potential market – or, conversely, for your potential market to reach you.

If neither of these apply, then ask yourself – is this platform a “need to have” or a “nice to have” – and which one of these options deserves your money?

There’s a tendency for social media marketers to latch onto the newest platforms, conveniently providing them with another ‘must have’ service to sell – often without any regard as to whether the platform (and more importantly, its user base) is appropriate for the marketing goals of their clients. Don’t mistake this for good advice.

Always ask: do I really need this? What is the evidence?

“Social Media marketing is better than [posters / flyers / PPC / SEO / adverts / etc.]”

The second you hear this, alarm bells should ring. Now, I’m not claiming that it isn’t true in some cases – sometimes, it absolutely is. But not every time, not for every business. The same rules apply – ask why. What is the evidence?

This is also true of any other form of marketing. “Newspaper ads are better than any other ads” is just as nonsensical; why? Why are they better?

Go back to the business case argument – how important is social media compared to other forms of marketing?

We almost always find that the best marketing mix is a blend of online and offline activity, which often includes social media – but not always.

If you’re being pushed to use social media, ask for the justification.

“We’ve been using social media for ages, so we know what we’re doing!”

As a wise man once said, “time is no measure of competence“. To a lesser extent, nor is experience.

When you’re choosing a social media manager, don’t just ask how long they’ve been doing it for. Ask them about their understanding of marketing, of your business objectives, of how to baseline, measure, and analyse their activity.

This is what counts.

You want someone who can use social media to grow your business, not just someone who is “good at using” social media.

“Social Media marketing gives you a better ROI than anything else!”

Right, this might just be one of my pet hates, but I cannot bear it when people use ROI incorrectly.

It honestly couldn’t be simpler. It’s a financial measure. Nothing else. Financial. A comparison of the money spent versus the money earned as a result. That’s it.

But do you know what, we social media managers are buggers for using it to justify all sorts.

  • “Our client only spent £499, but their message was seen by over a million people! What a great ROI!”
  • “After just one training session, one client said they had a social media ROI of 4 out of every 5 calls!”

Stop this. Stop this now.

“Post hoc ergo propter hoc”

Well, OK, maybe not many social media managers actually say this. Which is a shame. It’s Latin. You ought to have a basic grasp of Latin if you’re working in social media.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

And this doesn’t only apply to social media marketers – it applies to pretty much every form of marketing. Just because things happen in succession doesn’t mean that they are related.

If a customer sees you on social media, then buys from you, then is this a social media success story? Most social marketers would probably claim it is – one followed the other, so they must be related.

But how do you know? How do you know that social media drove the customer decision? Just because one followed the other?

We’re not even saying that social media wasn’t the reason – it could well have been, and it should be a tremendous success story! But unless you’ve tracked the sale from post to purchase, it’s just a guess.

This is a classic example of weak analytics. We can track pretty much most online behaviour, especially on our own sites. Make the most of this, so you know – conclusively – what is working and what isn’t. Otherwise you could see your marketing budget disappear on the wrong activity. Always ask for proof.

And remember – nullius in verba. 😉

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David has worked with countless UK charities, businesses, and schools - with a brilliant track record of helping them with their biggest challenges. David is the founder of the Impact group - including Impact Charity Advisors, Impact Business Advisors, and Impact Education Support.