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A weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions about social media!

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Hi. I'm Elliott and this is Mental Floss on YouTube and today I'm going to talk about some misconceptions about Social Media.

Misconception number one. "Social media" means the same thing as "social network". Experts actually distinguish between the two. Social media is what you upload and social network is the platform where you upload it.

So, a photo or status that you put on Facebook is an example of social media and Facebook itself is the social network. David Fincher movie pun not intended, or is it? Who knows?

Speaking of which, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook by stealing people's money and ideas. The film makes this seem like a very plausible story, but it's actually not that simple. The film was based on the semi-fictional Accidentally Billionaires. The author of the less fictional, The Facebook Effect, the inside story of the company that is connecting the world, David Kirkpatrick, pointed out that much of what happened in the movie was exaggerated for dramatic effect, or just never happened.

For instance, it's true that Zuckerberg's friend Eduardo Saverin invested $1000 in Facebook, but what the film doesn't show is that Zuckerberg put a lot of his own money into the project too.

And, Zuckerberg did meet the Winklevoss brothers, and hear their idea for a Harvard exclusive website, but Kirkpatrick notes that this wasn't as original an idea as The Social Network might have you believe.

Both Friendster and MySpace were very popular by this time, plus there were Facebook like networks popping up at places like Stanford, Columbia, Yale and Baylor at the time.

Misconception number three. Hashtags on Twitter mean that more people will find the tweet and retweet it.

So, this is true to an extent. In 2012, Twitter announce that tweets with hashtags increase engagement 100% or two times for individuals and 50%, or 1.5 times, for brands. Tweets containing hashtags are seen more because people who aren't following that account may find the tweet by searching the hashtag. But, this has its limitations. Research has shown that tweets containing one or two hashtags has 21% more engagement than tweets with three or more hashtags. And in fact, there's a 17% drop in engagement when there are over two hashtags in a tweet. Hashtag, Hashtag.

Misconception number four. Facebook can sell your photos to advertisers.

There's a popular rumor that once you upload a photo to Facebook then Facebook owns it and can sell it to whoever they want. What they can do is put your profile picture next to person or a business that you've already publicly become a fan of.

According to Facebook, "We've run advertisements from our own advertising system for more than a year that let your friends know if you have a direct connection with a product or service, in the same way that your friends learn through your News Feed if you're connected with another friend or an organization's Facebook Page. For example, if one of your friends becomes a fan of a Page, you may see an ad with your friend's profile photo that indicates the action that friend has taken."

But, they're not selling your photos to advertisers.

Similarly, misconception number five. Instagram owns the rights to your photos. According to Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom, "Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos."

They don't own your pictures, and like Facebook, they're not selling them to advertisers. So, just post away guys. It's great.

Misconception number six. Foursquare was very popular in its day.

Despite being labeled as the next big thing, Foursquare never made it big. According to a 2011 survey, only 3% of Americans checked in on a mobile device, and a shocking 74% of Americans have never even heard of checking in.

And that brings me to misconception number seven. LinkedIn is growing very fast. 

Well, technically it is. As of 2013, two members were joining LinkedIn every second. It can consistently be found on the top five list of social networks. The problem is 51% of its users aren't active. That's less than Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, and it's way less than Facebook that has 82% active users. The other 18% have died.

Misconception number eight. Short tweets are the most popular.

Believe it or not, the length of a tweet actually does affect how much people pay attention to it. Dan Zarrella, the author of the social media marketing book, analyzed the click-through rate of 200,000 links that were tweeted. He found that people were most likely to click on links when they were found in tweets that were between 120 and 130 characters.

Two other social media researchers, BuddyMedia and TrackSocial, found that tweets with the highest engagement rates were around 100 characters.

Misconception number nine. Social media is free advertising for companies.

Companies throw more money into their social media than you might expect. You might remember in 2014, a tweet from President Cheese made news as "the tweet that took two months." It was a simple photo of Camembert Cheese with the caption, President Camembert. The tweet read "Having a Camembert with friends? How generous. Get the best flavor by serving at room temperature. #artofcheese.

The company had hired digital design and advertising firm, Huge, to work on their social media. In early March, tweets were mapped out, then they had to be sent to copywriters and graphic designers. Once the image was created, it had to be pitched for a team. Eventually, it was approved then posted in late April.

My point is companies take this stuff very seriously. It might be free to make a Twitter account, but they spend a lot to make their accounts good. In fact, according to Bloomberg Business, "The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months."

Misconception number ten. Due to a bug, old Facebook messages went public.

In 2012, there was chaos on the internet when people believed that their private messages from 2007 to 2009 had suddenly appeared on their public walls. This turned out to be a hoax. Facebook even had to put out a statement. "Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users' profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy."

Thank you for watching Misconceptions on YouTube. If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you would like to see, please leave it in comments. I'll see you next week. Bye.