You know how dogs sweat by salivating? Well, It turns out they actually don’t. They regulate their temperature by salivating. They sweat through their paw pads.

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.

This has resulted in a lot of social media myths that have gone unchecked. Some are harmless, but some can greatly impact how social media professionals work with their marketing peers. That’s why SMMs need to equip themselves with the right information needed to get their teams up to speed.

To help, we used data from the Sprout Social Index™, Edition XVII: Accelerate to dispel five 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 likely why many marketers believe creating memorable content is the most important aspect of becoming best in class on social. Consumers, on the other hand, think otherwise.

A chart comparing opinions between marketers and consumers on what makes a brand best in class on social. While marketers rank audience engagement as the most important factor, consumers show a preference toward strong customer service.

In reality, consumers believe what really makes a brand best in class is offering strong customer service, followed by audience engagement and transparency. While this may be surprising to your greater organization, it can also be a helpful way to reset some internal expectations. After all, virality is more luck than strategy. Solid customer care practices can be achieved with proper planning and resource allocation.

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. The majority of consumers expect same-day responses on social. Improving your social media response time can assist in customer retention while giving your brand a competitive edge.
  • Create an escalation management strategy. Outlining a process for responding to timely issues (whether good or bad) alongside example scenarios can your organization understand 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, 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. Our Index data shows that nine out of 10 consumers will buy from brands they follow on social, while 86% will choose that brand over a competitor.

A chart depicting the actions consumers take when they follow a brand on social. 80% of consumers say it makes them more likely to buy from that brand.

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. Around one in three consumers use social media to learn about or discover new products, services or brands. Just because they’re not liking or commenting doesn’t mean they’re not gathering information that can eventually drive buying decisions.

Myth #3: Gen Z consumers are heavily swayed by influencer marketing

The near constant exposure to paid advertising seems to be making Zoomers a tad skeptical. Thirty-seven percent are unlikely to buy from a brand after seeing content from a brand ambassador or influencer, compared to 18% of Millennials.

To make an impact with Gen Z, marketers should prioritize the everyday influencer. Eighty-four percent of Gen Zers are likely to purchase if someone they trust recommends the product or service and 82% read reviews from other customers on social. Incorporating positive customer reviews and user-generated content into your social mix can play to these preferences and create more meaningful connections.

Take Amazon, for example. They frequently incorporate positive, funny product reviews to promote products on social. Embracing the natural silliness that can be found in certain reviews helps them create entertaining content that motivates others to join the fun.

A screenshot of the Reviews feed in Sprout. Reviews in Sprout Social enable you to identify, organize and reply to customer reviews from Facebook, Google My Business, Glassdoor and TripAdvisor to optimize engagement and build brand loyalty.

Incorporating reviews into your social media strategy starts with creating a process to identify them. If you’re using Sprout Social, you can do this by creating a custom tag for positive reviews that are a good fit for social promotion. The Review management tool can consolidate and track Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews in a single location, simplifying ongoing management.

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. Forty-seven percent of organizations view social data as a multi-team strategy resource, expanding its impact well beyond the assumed marketing silo.

A chart detailing how social data is viewed within organizations. 47% of marketers see it as a resource that influences strategy for multiple teams.

This signals a new era in social media management 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’re able to turn feedback from priority platforms like Twitter and Reddit into actionable recommendations for the business.

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

Myth #5: Social marketers have gone all-in on video

The value of video on social cannot be understated. In fact, 54% of marketers say it’s the most valuable content format for achieving social media goals. Despite this, video is consistently underused in favor of photos and posts containing links, accounting for less than 15% of content published by brands across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This adoption gap could indicate that video production still feels out of reach for many social marketers. While there have been quite a few advancements in remote video production tools over the past few years, for some it can still feel like too much to take on.

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. Platforms are rolling out more and more video-focused features, meaning 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.

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. To get the channel the respect it deserves, marketers will have to advocate for themselves by debunking these common social media misconceptions. Remember: tapping into the power of social doesn’t just benefit your team’s efforts—it can benefit your entire organization.

For more insights on how brands’ applications of social media are changing, download the Sprout Social Index™, Edition XVII: Accelerate. Inside, you’ll find more research on how businesses are using social to set themselves apart from their competitors and meet tomorrow’s customer expectations today.