5 Social Media Truths That You Don’t Want To Hear (But Need To)

It’s all fun and games until no one goes viral

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but social media isn’t the breeze we seem to think it is. It’s not simply a few well-shot photos with the right images and a cute, clever caption that wins the social media day. It takes real work to build and grow a brand on social media.

There are a ton of benefits for using social media — it’s relatively inexpensive, you have access to a huge potential audience, it makes your brand modern and you can have some real fun with it. But it’s also really hard work.

So before you head out there to start your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest account to blow your business out of the water (in a good way), there are a few things you should probably hear first…

Grow your profiles one at a time

Everyone seems to jump in both feet at a time when it comes to social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr… the list goes on. And they get easily disappointed when they only see one or two followers pop on, if that.

But consider how hard it would be if you were trying to learn five new jobs at a time. You want to master sewing, cooking, computer sciences, become a master green thumb and rock in neurosurgery. Taking on too many things at one time is a recipe for failure (says the girl who runs way too many blogs).

So, start with one.

Yes, one measly little social media profile. And pick the one that makes the most sense for whatever business or project that you’re working on. If you’re trying to run a travel blog for young women, LinkedIn is probably not your best bet. Likewise, if you’re trying to attract lawyers for your marketing blog you should probably skip Tumblr.

Social media is one very real case of you simply cannot do it all.

You can’t bank on being viral

Everyone seems to just want to get their name out there. They’re all in it for the glory and fame of a viral post.

But here’s the thing, virality doesn’t last unless you keep shooting out the same cannons. And that’s an effort you’re unlikely going to be able to keep up.

Slow and steady does really win the race when it comes to social media. Sure, you’re not going to gain 100,000 followers overnight, but you know what? You don’t want to.

The only thing worse than having no followers on social media is having thousands who don’t care what you put out there. They’re only along for that viral ride.

Aim to build slow but steady. Be present, be focused. And most importantly, aim for an engaged audience. That’s where the money is.

It’s not a low-effort medium

For some odd reason, anyone I chat with about social media thinks it’s just a breeze — they’ve never tried to run an account (or several), but they plan to have it mastered in a few weeks with thousands of followers willing to fork over their hard earned cash.

So, allow me to burst your bubble. Social media is definitely not a low-effort game.

It seems like it’d be a breeze, that is until you try to pre-plan a week of it and realize that 7 days of Facebook posts means 7 individual pieces of written content, plus 7 graphics. Then you have to figure out the best time to post, and if people are interacting with your post (which you damn well hope they do), then you have to factor in your response time…

And that’s not even the half of it.

Industry experts will tell you that a well-run social media account requires a minimum of one hour per day. And that’s just for one account. If you’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, you’re looking at 4 hours right there.

There’s strategy involved

Yes, you need a social media strategy. And, if you’re running a company, you need a policy too. You should also have specific social media brand guidelines and compliances that need to be followed.

If you truly want to build something with your social media channels, you really do have to put some thought into it. You need something to guide you that you can check back in with and make sure you’re both working towards and hitting targets.

We seem to exist in a world that values strategies and plans much less than they used to, but while I don’t agree that you need a 105-page strategy that details absolutely everything that you mean to do, you do need something.

Plan the way that works best for you, whether it be charts, pictures, a spreadsheet or a bulleted list — but do plan. You’ll thank yourself (and me) later.

If you don’t measure, you won’t learn anything

I don’t want to be so dramatic that I say that you’ll fail if you don’t properly measure your social media efforts — but you probably won’t grow without it. Not a lot, anyway. And if you do, it’ll be a fluke (but if you do *virtual high-five*).

Measuring efforts is how we in marketing and social media figure out what’s working and what’s not. We’ve somehow convinced ourselves that both have a one-size-fits-all method that’ll work for everyone, but marketing is not a scarf. What works for you might not work for someone else, vice-versa.

Taking the time to measure your efforts is how you figure out where to place your future efforts, what works and what doesn’t. More often than not when it comes to measurement, I find that things I never thought would work ended up working, and things I thought were sure-things were flops.

Measuring is one of the most important steps of any marketing project, so make sure you’re doing it.

And, for the record, measuring doesn’t have to be hard. Find yourself a scheduling program with good measurement tools and take some time each month to see what your best and worst performing posts are. See how your followers are interacting with you — are they commenting, sharing, liking — and figure out how you can emulate your best results and ditch your worst.

Social media isn’t some three-headed beast that you’ll never be able to tackle. But it’s not necessarily a walk-in-the-park either. But if you stick to some general principles, and I mean really stick to them, you’ll likely end up doing pretty good.


  • Start with one
  • Start slow
  • Make a plan
  • Aim for engagement, not virality

And, most importantly, put the effort in. You’ll do okay.