2013: The Year Businesses Took Social Media Theory and Threw It in the Trash

by Marcus Sheridan

social media theoryOver the last decade (especially the last five years), social media marketing has been one long train of speculation and theory after another. I don’t say this to be negative in any way. It’s a natural byproduct of a new phase this world is going through. But phase one is over. We need to move on. Our conversation, if we really want to make progress, has to go from one of theory to a place of application and real results.

And when I speak of real results, I’m referring to experiences like that of Dominic, who sent me this e-mail just a few days ago:

Love your work Marcus. Keep it up…On page 210 of the book, and 3 months in to setting up with HubSpot Pro account.  Inbound (marketing) is already making a massive difference to our traffic and conversions.

Set all the team blogging 3-4 posts per week and 5 ebooks now offered for free on the site.

Resulted so far in 8,000 new leads in the last 3 months and conversions up 20%  

Lovin it!

Dominic

That, my friends, is what it’s all about. It’s also the type of story businesses need to hear. Without going into too much detail, Dominic has managed to create a culture of inbound marketing within his company. He is producing content of different types. And more than anything else, his business is attaining more customers. Exciting times indeed.

When it comes down to it, we need more stories like Dominic’s in this industry. We need more businesses that truly understand the principles of social media and content marketing and know how to implement strategies in ways that work. Granted, there will always be those that elect not to keep up with best practices and do what it takes to achieve success in the digital age. That’s fine, we’ll let them be.

But for the rest of the world, application needs to be the name of the game in 2013. And for those bloggers and thought leaders that write about this stuff day in and day out, it is my hope we’ll all work hard to shine a light this coming year on businesses that are actually achieving success in the digital realm, and the strategies they’re using to garner said success. At this point, we’re all obligated to show more.

When I look at the direction The Sales Lion is headed in 2013, I want this site to become known as one of the premier non-theory marketing sites on the web. This is exactly why I plan on highlighting clients and readers that are crushing it online with their business (be it big or small) and then showing exactly how they are getting results.

This, in my opinion, is what most business owners and marketers want to be reading about. They don’t want wild overviews. They don’t want theory. They simply want results.

More Hands-On

On a side note, this is also why I’m excited about a brand new blogging conference being put on by Mack Collier in Los Angeles this coming year. The conference is called “Blog H.O.T”—which stands for “hands on training.”

A few months back when Mack approached me about speaking at this event, my initial reaction was not one of great enthusiasm, as I suspected it was going to be just like many of the blogging and social media conferences being put on all over the country these days—speakers speaking and audiences listening. (Not that this is necessarily bad, but at this point I feel we need more.)

But that’s when Mack told me something that truly piqued my interest. He said the conference was going to have two unique qualities:

1. It was going to be clearly focused on business and corporate blogging strategies. (In other words, it wasn’t going to try and be everything to every type of blogger—just businesses.)

2. It was going to be hands-on with heavy interaction.

A blogging conference full of businesses where the audience gets their hands dirty?

Yeah, I wanted in.

Now granted, time will tell if Mack’s conference is a great one, but I have a feeling he’s on to something, and shares my thoughts in that all need to step up our game in 2013.

So that’s my commitment to you, my readers. Sure, I’m going to have my normal mix of business, opinion, and personal development writings within the walls of this digital home.

But more than anything else, I want to give you, my readers, reality. I want you to hear about real business doing real marketing strategies that are getting real results. And if you’re not seeing just that, don’t hesitate to call me out on it.

Your Turn

As we look ahead to 2013, where do you see things going within the social media and content marketing realm? Do you believe as I do we’ll start seeing less talk of theory and more talk of application? When it comes to conferences, do you prefer the hands-on approach or would you rather keep things as they’ve mostly been up to this point? Finally, what would you like to see more of from The Sales Lion in 2013?

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Hanley December 11, 2012 at

Why are these awesome blog conferences always on the West Coast? BS…

We need some Upstate NY love!

Anyway, love the direction dude. The power of The Sales Lion has always been it’s foundation in real main-street business success.

I look forward to what 2013 has to offer and helping however I can even if it’s just rant style comments.

All the best homey

Hanley

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Don Stanley December 12, 2012 at

My thoughts exactly Mr. Hanley! I want one a super awesome conference in the upper Midwest ;-)

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Marcus Sheridan December 13, 2012 at

You’re too kind Hanley :-)

Funny thing is I know your blog is very much headed in the same direction as mine my friend.

Thanks again bud,

Marcus

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Jacob Voncannon December 11, 2012 at

So good! Throw it out the window! BTW what’s the conference you speak of? It sounds right up my alley.

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Marcus Sheridan December 13, 2012 at

It’s Mack Collier’s conference, link is in the article here. But I think it’s going to be GREAT.

And when am I going to see you at one of these conferences my digital friend?? ;-)

Marcus

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Jamie Alexander December 11, 2012 at

I think that’s a great way going forward that’s going to make the blog huge.

It’s always nice to see results, even though there’s not many around. Some podcast sessions on Smart Passive Income and Entrepreneurs Journey come to mind and I always loved listening to those.

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Marcus Sheridan December 13, 2012 at

Nice example about Pat Flynn Jaime. He does a tremendous job truly “showing it.” This is also why I think he is so very much respected on the www.

Good seeing you man,

Marcus

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Eric Pratum December 11, 2012 at

I’d be curious to find out what Dominic’s expenses for implementing an inbound approach have been and whether or not within his industry leads and sales continue to pour in if that investment were to stop. I’m sure his ROI is looking good, but if he’s spending more and making less and it’s also not working like a flywheel, it’d be a bad investment.

I’m not trying to be a cynic of course. I’m just interested to know how the other half of this ROI equation looks.

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Marcus Sheridan December 13, 2012 at

Eric Pratum you dang cynic!!

Good thoughts though man ;-)

Marcus

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Ruth Zive December 11, 2012 at

“Application needs to be the name of the game in 2013″ – ABSOLUTELY!

I always tell my clients that social media is NOT a ‘build it and they will come’ type of tool. It needs to be nurtured, fed, fuelled by meaningful content, and MEASURED in order to yield results.

Unfortunately, too many businesses slap up some social media icons on their website, tweet once or twice about their newest offering, create a Facebook platform, and then wonder why don’t have traction.

The more that we can hold ourselves (as marketers) accountable to a strategy, and metrics to measure progress, the greater our impact will be.

I also think that with social, slow and steady wins the race. A lot of companies expect overnight success with social media. It’s just not going to happen.

I look forward to your success stories Marcus, along with the related best practice standards that the rest of us can embrace.

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Your vision and the way you talk about clients always fires me up Ruth. I know I’ve said this before, but I can tell you’re really good at what you do :-)

Marcus

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Weston December 11, 2012 at

Marcus

I’m a big fan of your blog, and don’t think the following would go so far as to be described as “calling you on it” but..

I’m not sure how”…highlighting clients and readers that are crushing it online…” equates to going “…… from one of theory to a place of application and real results…”

If you are only focusing on the successes, than you are doing quite the opposite of showing “real results”. You would be providing only highly slanted anecdotal evidence instead of the full range of “real results”. Kind of like a lawyer who provides you with only the real results of the cases he won, without ever mentioning his losses. Or a surgeon talking about those cured by a surgery but not the dozens who may have died on the table.

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Hi Weston, and thanks for adding your thoughts here.

I somewhat understand what you’re saying but when you write about case studies of clients as I do, and talk about companies mentioning their name (as I do), I can’t come out and say, “Company X did this…and it was dumb…and here is why.”

At the same time though, if you go back and read the history of this blog, you’ll see a few times where I talk about who is doing content marketing well, and who is doing it poorly. (Like the time I talked about Ford Mortors’ blog stinking up the joint)

But the reason why it doesn’t help very much focusing on failure is because inaction is almost always the reason. In other words, the business or the client wasn’t doing what they were asked to do. Frankly speaking, I’ve had many clients succeed and some fail. But the ones that have failed have done it not because they worked too hard and experimented too much and were overzealous with what I said. Rather, they just suffered from inaction, red tape, and bottlenecks.

And who wants to hear about inaction, bottlenecks, and red-tape all day?

Marcus

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Michael Taylor December 11, 2012 at

Marcus, I like the idea for 2013. On a previous post I commented regarding my desire to launch an inbound/content marketing business focused on independently owned audiology practices. Helping them to grow their client base by better educating them. As you would say, “They ask, you answer”. One of the issues I have been wrestling with is how to show some of the potential clients early on in the star-up that this stuff really works. Should I blog for 6+ months until I start getting traction on my content generating leads before I get serious about securing clients? At that point, I would have my own business results to use as a sales/coaching tool. Thoughts?

Thanks for what you do,

Michael Taylor

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Michael, great question, I’m glad you asked.

My answer would be you should be doing both. Really. You must plant in one field as you attempt to harvest another.

Otherwise, you’ll always have the see-saw problem with you business.

Hope that makes sense, and keep pushing hard my friend!!

Marcus

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Ron Whitaker December 11, 2012 at

I LOVE the idea of a real, hands-on conference offering HANDS-ON workshops on blogging and social media.

I’m personally sick of all the lispy, limp-wristed SEO conferences offered by SEO “gurus” FOR SEOs. All they do is stand around and try to show everyone how intelligent they (think they) are.

Make it a blogging/SEO/social media conference for the REAL business world.

And, if I may, NOT L.A.! It’s a trash heap! If it’s going to be in CA, try somewhere more north, or there’s great places to have it as well in the West, like Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Reno, (please not Las Vegas!)

Great idea, though!

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Ron, how do you *really* feel about these other conferences bud? ;-)

Seriously though man, thanks so much for bringing the passion, we need more of that!

Marcus

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Theodore Nwangene December 11, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,
Its not been quite long i started visiting your blog, but the interesting thing is that I’m already falling in love with it.

I believe that 2013 will be a great year when it comes social media and content marketing. But i quite agree with Weston, you should also be showing us your loses as well as your success.

I will like you to post more on this inbound marketing of a thing.

Thanks for sharing.

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Will do Theodore, and thanks for your support sir. :-)

Marcus

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Krista Kotrla December 12, 2012 at

Way to go, Dominic!!

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Seems Dominic has the passion and vision of someone else I know ;-)

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Walt Goshert December 12, 2012 at

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

2013 is the year when the all those empty promises, quick results with no work, from SEO hacks and social media gurus are left in the dust.

No, not everything you do online is a home run, but you can win lots of leads and clients playing “small ball” each and every day.

BTW- 20% increase in conversions sounds realistic. 8000 new leads in three months, even blogging 3-4 times, sounds exceptional. At a 20% opt-in rate, that’s around 450 unique visits per day over the three monthly period.

I’d want to hear more inside the numbers for this kind of client success story to sound real.

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Small ball is certainly what leads to eventual home runs online Walt–so well said man.

And don’t worry, you’ll be getting much inside the numbers with time ;-)

Marcus

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Mandy Kilinskis December 12, 2012 at

Yes! I’m excited both for Dominic’s business and for the direction your blog is headed. Application is definitely what people need, and I look forward to reading about how your clients and readers are crushing it!

Here’s to an excellent 2013!

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Thanks so much for the passion and appreciation Mandy :-)

And my your 2013 be a great one as well!

Marcus

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Don Stanley December 12, 2012 at

You know I’m a quote person. And you hit the nail squarely on the head my man. The quote I always use to start my workshop and classes is this “The purpose of education is NOT knowledge. The purpose of education is ACTION!”

If you can’t apply what you are learning, are you really learning? In my opinion the answer is no. So get out and do! Learn, DO, analyze, adapt and grow. Then repeat the cycle.

Love to see Mack is putting together such a great event and that you are keynoting at it with C.C. That’s a serious rockstar lineup! Why isn’t it closer to me? ;-)

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Marcus Sheridan December 12, 2012 at

Love the opening quote Don. But honestly, I’m not surprised. Such is the material great teachers are cut from my friend.

Thanks for all you do,

Marcus

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Chris December 15, 2012 at

I love the emphasis on action over theory.

I just found out about this site from your interview on Entrepreneur on Fire. That was a great interview!

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Marcus Sheridan December 17, 2012 at

So glad you found us Chris, and I hope you’ll come back again soon. :-)

Smiles sir,

Marcus

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Joe Sanchez December 16, 2012 at

Hi Marcus – I’ve had a chance to listen to a few of your podcasts over the last month. Man you’re definately taking a different approach than some of the other people doing similar stuff. It’s not easy digesting all the regurgitated marketing speak that makes its way into podcasts but I like how you keep it real.

In the end we all want to believe our blogs can be a success, but I don’t want to feel like I’ve become a snake oil salesman in the process.

Good luck with your gig and don’t compromise being real!
-Joe

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Marcus Sheridan December 17, 2012 at

That means a lot to me Joe, as I do try hard and it’s nice to know its helping some folks out there.

Cheers,

Marcus

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Rajkumar Jonnala December 17, 2012 at

As an Entrepreneur or an blogger one would love to see love results. Definitely a blogger does n’t like it to be a theory kind of approach. Success is sometimes all about practical experiments. As people keep changing, the social media and trends keeps getting newer and interesting.

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Diane December 17, 2012 at

I would like to vouch the effectiveness of marketing ebooks. Marcus really pointed out the importance of Social Media nowadays to be a success in Internet Marketing. The strategies are just plainly simple. Use social Media and boost your popularity, by then… Earn more!

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Jeffrey Reyes December 18, 2012 at

It sure feels like the way you described it. I’ve seen social media marketing backfire horribly in a couple of cases. It’ isn’t a godsend as people make it out to be.

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Chester Brady December 26, 2012 at

There are people that don’t look at both sides of a coin, taking it only at face value. Then it flips over and shows another side of itself.

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