The 10 Myths of Social Media

By Mikal E. Belicove|For|September 15, 2009

The emergence of social media as a crucial paradigm in virtually all sectors of the economy has led to countless assumptions and new ideas about consumer behavior and marketing activities. Yet many of these concepts, when implemented and examined closely, have led to surprising conclusions–many of which contradict the validity and relevance of these ideas in the first place and have been examined previously for decades.

While we are now living in what some call the “golden age of data,” this is not the dawn of a new age of related theory. “Many social commerce problems have been addressed previously, and massive amounts of data will not change the continuing need for the understanding of basic and primitive customer behavior which provides the correct lens to view social media data,” says Eric T. Bradlow, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Interactive Media Initiative.

Bradlow, along with 150 or so B2B marketing and advertising professionals, is in Atlanta today and tomorrow for the Lift Summit–a two-day conference presented by OfficeArrow and WIMI, where real-world examples of social commerce strategies and tactics that are said to drive sales lift, increase customer loyalty, and produce actionable metrics and measurable results are on display. Bradlow opened the first-ever B2B social commerce summit by presenting the following 10 paradoxes of social/interactive media:

Myth No. 1: Today is the golden age of media metrics. While it’s true that we can now measure nearly any media metric we want, don’t believe for a second that academics and others haven’t been working on answering key ROI questions for decades. While this is the golden age of data, do not confuse that with the golden age of knowledge!

No. 2: The rise of data mining suggests you do not need any substantive data knowledge; you just need data. Data will never trump simple theory, and simple models of behavior outperform complex models out-of-sample time and time again. Most phenomena and human behavior are fairly simple.

Myth No. 3: Customer engagement is

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