A few weeks ago, Rieva Lesonsky was in town for an event and we got together for brunch. During that brunch we talked about running a business, social media experts, whether or not we’re facing a bubble burst, and solving all the world’s problems.

Rieva is one of the smartest women I know. If you don’t know who she is, I recommend Googling her. She’s kind of a big deal, though she would never, in a million years, give off that air. In fact, to sit and talk to her, you really have no idea how big of a deal she really is. And, I mean she’s not a social media big deal. She’s an in real life big deal.

But this isn’t a post about Rieva (as much as I love her). I did that in a #FollowFriday post last year.

This is a post about the myths she wrote about, after we solved them all.

Myth: You don’t really need a website. An online presence on Facebook or Yelp or “fill in the blank” site will suffice.

Reality: Rieva and I agree here. One of the things we tell our clients, all the time, is not to push customers and prospects to something they don’t own. Yes, you should claim your business on Yelp. Yes, you should have a Facebook page (especially if you’re a consumer-facing business). But, for heaven’s sakes, don’t use those platforms in place of your website. What happens when they die?

Myth: Follow your passion and build a business around that. Or, do what you love and the money will follow.

Reality: I half agree with Rieva here. She says you should build a business around something you can market; something people will buy. I agree with that. But I also think if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t make it. Take, for instance, all of the trouble we’ve had with Spin Sucks Pro. If I weren’t passionate about the vision, if I didn’t really believe we can change the perception of the PR and marketing industries through education, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. But where Rieva and I also agree is that you shouldn’t build a business around something you love to do, just because you love to do it. I love to cook; it’s my stress release. But if I had to do it every day, I’d end up hating it.

Myth: Having tens or hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook means you must know what you’re talking about.

Reality: Unless you’ve had P&L experience (as Geoff Livingston extols in a recent blog post), unless you can translate your personal branding success to a business (most can’t), or unless you’ve stayed awake late at night wondering how the heck you’re going to make payroll, you likely have no idea how to translate your fans and followers to success for anyone but you. As Rieva says,

Remember social media is a two-way street. It’s supposed to be a conversation. There’s nothing two-way about people telling you they’re too busy to help you, and then turning around and asking you to buy their books or subscribe to their offerings.

She has a few other myths that she explores. You can read them by clicking here. And neither one of us covered every myth out there, including how many small businesses there truly are in the United States and how many books the social media “experts” really are selling. We could go on for days and days.

What myths and realities would you add?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich