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Before I go on my little diatribe here about social media and how it’s thwarting the content marketing efforts of businesses around the globe, let me just make one thing clear:

I’m not anti-social media.

I like it. I understand its uses. I’ve used it to generate business.

So there, now that we’ve gotten that over with (so as to not hear the classic “But you use Social Media Marcus!” statements), let’s get serious for a minute.

Many of These Social Media “Studies” are Driving Me Crazy

I was recently reading a report from the folks at TrackMaven called “The Paradox of Content Marketing” that, if I may be completely honest, made me pound my head against the wall more than once. I don’t say this because the report was poorly done. To the contrary, it was quite thorough and impressive. But my issue goes back to a subject that I feel like is so incredibly misunderstood in the digital marketing space and one that continues to “distract” businesses as to what effective content marketing is all about.

To put it simple, my biggest issue with the report was that it kept referring to social media interaction and engagement as the main KPI of content marketing. I find this philosophy, for a very large percentage of business, utterly absurd and misguided. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to discuss the phenomena—or the fact that we keep allowing Social to cloud our judgment of what is good and bad content. Thus, here are 5 things to chew on the next time you want to jump off a bridge because your latest video, article, or whitepaper didn’t go viral or hit the social media metrics you were looking for.

5 Reasons Social Media May be Totally Screwing Up your Content Marketing

  1. Completely Misunderstanding the Phrase “Interaction”

I’m curious, how would you define “interaction” with your content? Do you see it as a “like”, “tweet”, or “share?” Personally, I wouldn’t call any of those things much of an interaction. Heck, the moment I hit “publish” for this article on The Sales Lion it will get retweeted, automatically in most cases, dozens of times within seconds of it hitting my feed—without the person tweeting it even taking the time to read the thing.

Does this really count as engagement or interaction?

Or let’s look at another example. Imagine for a second that a marketing department has produced a series of videos that get watched very little on Youtube and are shared by absolutely no one on social media. Notwithstanding this fact, the videos get rolled into the sales process of the company’s sales team, and end up helping close multiple new clients because of their quality and subject matter. Would this, therefore, be considered effective content?

Finally, let’s not forget that little article on the River Pools website that has made my company over 2.5 million dollars in sales—despite the fact that it has almost never been shared via social media.

Read almost a million times, and almost no social media "interaction"

Read almost a million times, and almost no social media “interaction”

Bottom Line: Most marketers need to seriously reconsider how they define the phrases “interaction” and “engagement.”

  1. Allowing Social to be a KPI (Key Performance Indicator):

Once again, this ties perfectly with #1, but I’ll site a few more examples just to drive this point home. Here at The Sales Lion, we’ve been able to work with quite a few B2B and B2C companies to create some of the most successful content marketing case studies in the industry today. But whether it’s a company like Block Imaging, Segue Technologies, Ongoing Operations, Yale Appliance, or Health Catalystfor none of these companies do we see social media as KPI. Sure, it could be considered an “indicator,” but that’s where it stops, and is by no means what is paying the bills for the majority of businesses, especially those in the B2B space. (Note: I understand for some businesses social will be a KPI, but these businesses are few and far between.)

Yale Appliane

On the surface, this article from Yale Appliance appears to have low “interaction”– that is until you learn it has been read over 200,000 times.


Bottom Line: Don’t confuse PI with KPI

  1. Not Paying Attention to SEO

If you read the Trackmaven study mentioned earlier, you’ll see that it references the fact that consumers still view search engines and review sites as their primary source of trust when vetting new companies and products. This being said, it blows my mind how often I see a business approach content marketing aggressively but totally bomb when it comes to their (lack of) focus on targeting buyer-based keywords that can quickly generate sales.

I see many witty, catchy, and enticing titles of articles and videos on the web all day, but know this: Search engines don’t like witty. They don’t like catchy. They want content that is clearly targeted from a “How would a consumer search this” perspective. And the companies that understand this are the ones getting the greatest results from an SEO perspective.

Bottom Line: Don’t neglect SEO folks. It’s simply too important.

  1. Sacrificing Sales for Social “Engagement”

I’m going to mention something here that you almost never read on the interwebs: Often times, “social” content is not “sales” content. What do I mean by this? Let’s look at a really simple example using “marketing automation” as our subject matter:

Article #1: 5 Myths about Marketing Automation You Need to Know (catchy, witty title that won’t sell a dang thing)

Article #2: HubSpot vs. Infusionsoft: Which is the Best Marketing Automation Software? (not very catchy, sexy, or social, but an SEO and Sales Home Run)

It may not be a sexy subject on a social level, but it's certainly one buyer's care about on a business level.

It may not be a sexy subject on a social level, but it’s certainly one buyer’s care about on a business level.

Hopefully you see the difference. I see articles on the web similar to #1 in all types of industries, but the fact is, they may get shared socially but often times do nothing when it comes to moving the sales needle. On the other side of the coin, I posted article #2 here on The Sales Lion a few years ago and it’s led to well over 100k in sales revenue.

Bottom Line: Produce content that your Sales team needs today and don’t allow the desire to get a few more likes and tweets to hinder your ability to pay the bills.

  1. Pareto’s Law

At River Pools, we’ve been doing Content/Inbound Marketing for 6 years now. During that time, the company has become a house-hold name amongst marketers yet we never share anything on Twitter, we do very little on Facebook, and are essentially non-existent on the other social media platforms.

For us, we realized early on that when it came to getting the biggest bang for our buck, it was much more effective to produce content through text and video than it was to spend a bunch of time and energy on social media. It was classic Pareto’s Law, and we chose to spend our time in the place where we’d get 80% of our sales.


And finally, speaking of “distractions,” in 2006 Seth Godin stopped allowing comments on his blog posts. At the time, many folks spoke poorly of his decision not to “engage” his audience. But Seth, always a man ahead of the curve, made this simple statement referring to blog comments:

“it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters. I’m already itching to rewrite my traffic post below. So, given a choice between a blog with comments or no blog at all, I think I’d have to choose the latter.”

I don’t think I understood what Seth meant by that in the early days of The Sales Lion, but boy do I appreciate his words today and the power of “focus” when it comes to producing our best work.

Bottom line: Don’t let social media hinder your ability to say what needs to be said in order for you to reach your potential.

Well there you have it folks. Five way social media may be hurting your content marketing success. Tell me, do you agree or disagree with the statements herein? What have you found to be the case in your business?


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