Digital Marketing Myth Busters: The Problem with Wanting More

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We’re back with another edition of truth-telling in digital marketing. This time we’re tackling the myth of MORE in social media. We all want more… More followers, more likes, more comments, more engagement… more hashtags? I want my shit to go viral!

Let’s take a look at what really matters.

Myth: I can’t get the same big engagement as the big brands.

[Um, you sure about that?]

I want more social media engagementSheryl Brown-Madjlessi, Founder | CEO of



Working in financial services, I hear so many financial professionals say they can’t keep up with the big brands. They are worried their posts aren’t making big splashy fronts like celebrities. Or they say they can’t compete with the big brands numbers. And of course, they don’t want to pay to boost every post out there. I can’t blame them, but let’s just see about that engagement though because I have a Bigger, Better and more BIONIC (BBB) theory which goes with this.

I recently checked the engagement rates on Facebook (without using Insight Data) of McDonald’s (a pretty big brand with 63M+ followers), Ellen DeGeneres (she’s at 24M+) and the company I work for, Ash Brokerage (712 beautiful, intelligent, warm, witty…oh wait I’m a little biased, “followers”). That’s a big difference, right? I tested my BBB theory recently on videos posted respectively on the accounts to see what the engagement looked like. All videos were on Apr 14, 2016.


McDonald’s Facebook page has 63M fans yet a video they posted 1,200,000 views (so those could be auto play views when scrolling through the Facebook newsfeed so it’s not a legit way to fully assess engagement.) They had 2,000 people like the video, 196 shares, and 553 comments. That’s a 1.91% engagement.


I then hopped over to The Ellen DeGeneres Show Facebook page. (I love her!)  She has 24.5M fans and posted almost the exact same time as McDonald’s and they saw 746,000 views (again, almost

the same views which could be the auto play feature of Facebook.) They had 9,400 people like the video, 550 comments, and 692 shares as of the time I measured. That’s a 3.09% engagement. A lot better, eh?


Then Ash Brokerage posted a video about laughing being good and it was a video with all of our employees bloopers for their webinars. It was a riot! With just 712 followers, we had 627 views, 13 likes, and 3 shares…that’s a 90.3% engagement. But wait, we are a little brand compared to McDonald’s and Ellen, that can’t be right?

You see, it’s not about being the biggest brand, it’s about knowing your target audience. We never paid to boost our post – we just made good content specific to our audience. We’ve measured and we know what works for them. Do you know what works for your audience? Don’t try to be a bigger brand. You don’t want to strive to be a better brand either. You want to work toward being a bionic brand! That’s where the magic happens!

MYTH: Go Crazy with Hashtags for Viral Success

do you need more hashtags?Sue Koch, Social Media Strategy and Training, Soaring Solutions, LLC


Yes, hashtags can serve a purpose. They classify content and insert you into a targeted conversation of a community, brand, campaign or event. And sure, they may even bring your content to

the attention of others who may not have otherwise seen your content.

Thus: we should all use as many hashtags as we possibly can to maximize the latter to its fullest extent! Hold on now…

Superfluous hashtagging is an act of social media desperation.

Certainly, each social media platform has a different level of “hashtag acceptability”. I abide by more a conservative guideline, as I prefer to engage in content over eye-glazing hashtaggery…

Instagram: A relevant handful, max.

Facebook: A relevant couple.

Twitter: One or two key terms within the body of your Tweet. Visual media wins over hashtags. No space to waste here people!

LinkedIn: Seriously? Please stop.

Keep in mind that every social channel does have one powerful success driver in common: great content.

Imagine, trying to build an Instagram following without hashtags?!? I know, kind of feels like forgetting your morning coffee, doesn’t it?

Take for example adventure photographer Emanuel Smedbol who has amassed over 120k followers in under 3 years on Instagram, organically, with maybe one hashtag here and there. As he eloquently puts it:

“Tricks aren’t necessary and may actually alienate people from your brand. Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned that way, but I think people are pretty smart and can see through your stratagems. Just be real, be true, be patient, be authentic. You might be surprised how well that works.” @emanuelsmedbol

Local Chicago Instagram influencer Anna Russett rarely uses a hashtag, if ever. How did she get to 230k Instagram followers? Knowing her target audience, listening, and responding with more of what they want, in a way that connects.

Isn’t it interesting that at a time where digital design has returned to a more minimalist aesthetic for blogs and websites, our vision is being assaulted with an overload of blue links that detract content purity on social media? Give quality content a try and simplify.

Some parting tips:

  1. On Instagram, post your image with relevant non-hashtag content, put a few relevant hashtags in the first comment.
  2. Don’t auto-post from Instagram to Facebook or Twitter. Take the few moments to customize your cross post to the social channel you are posting to.
  3. As with everything else in your business, have a goal with your hashtag.
  4. If it feels like you’re trying too hard, you probably are.
  5. Simplify, and just be real.

Myth: More followers, more posts, more, more, more is better!

Mana Ionescu, @manamica.

Truth: Less is more.

The phrase is commonly associated with one of 20th century’s greatest architects (and one of my intellectual crushes), Mies:  Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969).

The phrase first appeared in Andrea del Sarto, 1855, a poem by Robert Browning:

Who strive – you don’t know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) – so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

But Mies turned it into a movement.

“Our built environment is meant to be lived in. Mies’ buildings, beyond merely affecting our lives, endow them with greater significance and beauty. His buildings radiate the confidence, rationality, and elegance of their creator and, free of ornamentation

and excess, confess the essential elements of our lives. In our time, where there is no limit to excess, Mies’ reductionist approach is as pertinent as ever. As we reduce the distractions and focus on the essential elements of our environment and ourselves, we find they are great, intricate, and beautiful. Less is more.”

This is true in marketing as well. We need to scale back at times. Do less, but with more impact. It’s not about how many followers you have. It’s about whether or not they take action. Of course, we all want more sales. But when it comes to “posting” more and getting more followers, etc, it won’t necessarily lead to more sales. I’ve seen Facebook pages with tens of thousands of followers, with a click-through rate of 0.01%. I’ve seen pages with a thousand followers and a click-through rate of 10%.

I’ve seen websites with blog posts going out 2-3 times a week that got maybe a handful of visitors to these pages. And I’ve seen websites with just three resource pages that are so thorough and well-written, that these pages get thousands of visitors a day.

It’s important to take a step back from the mechanics of social media and truly consider your content strategy.

Stop worrying so much about “posting.” Instead, stop and write down answers to the following questions:

  • What are you communicating?
  • Does it have meaning?
  • Does it add value?

Imagine you’re having a conversation with your target audiences.

  • What would you talk about?
  • What would get them smiling?
  • What would get them excited?
  • What would they ask and what would you answer?

Write your best answers. Instead of “more,” go for better!

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Since founding Lightspan, Mana has quickly established herself as one of Chicago's leading voices in social media and digital marketing. A decisive problem-solver fluent in five languages, Mana believes in clear objectives, simple solutions and the power of purpose in marketing. Credos: "No excuses" and "Find a way!"
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