Why Comments and Social Shares are Incredibly Overrated to Content Marketing Success

by Marcus Sheridan

I was reading an article entitled “8 KPIs Your Content Marketing Measurement Should Include” on the Content Marketing Institute blog the other day and was once again scratching my head as to why the author allowed social shares and comments to make his list of these critical metrics we’re supposed to be paying attention to as businesses.

Don’t get me wrong, the article was really good, and I thought the first 6 KPIs (key performance indicators) mentioned were dead-on. But social shares? Comments? As a KPI?

I’m going to say something here that rarely seems to get mentioned online:

Most industries aren’t very social.

There, it has now been said. :-)

Let’s really ask ourselves for a minute how we got into this comment/share mess in the first place. The reality is that we are a world living and breathing immediate gratification—real or not.

The Science Behind Why We’re Addicted to Comments and Social Shares

On a psychological and physiological level, what comments and shares really do is release a chemical in our bodies called dopamine—a temporary shot of happiness, the same type of feeling we get with alcohol, gambling, or even those little sounds our cell phones make with each new text or email message.

Don’t believe me? It’s true, just ask Simon Sinek, one of the foremost leaders in this area.

Recently I received an email from someone who was starting a home fitness blog/business and was quite depressed he wasn’t getting any comments. Because of this, he was contemplating if he should just “hang it up.”

My response was as follows:

Run a business man, not a club.

And don’t quit.

This gentleman was incredibly representative of so many other businesses that have set up a false god with comments and social shares and allowed themselves to lose sight of why they started writing and content marketing in the first place.

Real Numbers, Real Businesses

But enough of that, I want to talk about a few companies I’m working with and just how little they care about comments and social shares.

Many of you have heard me talk about Yale Appliance in Boston. Last year their sales increased by over 10 million dollars while stopping most regular forms of advertising and instead focusing on a tremendous content/email marketing campaign—with their blog setting the pace and dominating search engine results simply because they’re talking about things customers care about,  something few other companies are willing to broach.

But here’s the catch—if you look at Yale’s blog articles, there is something you see very, very little of—comments and social shares.

Yale Appliance

Huge success, few comments and shares.

Or let’s look at US Waterproofing and my friend Matt Stock. The guy has done amazing things in the basement waterproofing realm. His content is read by thousands and thousands of people. But if he gets more than a few likes and shares with each post, and maybe a comment here or there, then it’s unusual.

US waterproofing

US Waterproofing’s most popular article, shown above, has been read thousands of times and shared very little on social networks.

Or how about my other company, River Pools and Spas? Just look at the page below where I wrote about how much a fiberglass pool costs. Because it’s an actual “page” of the site and not a “blog” article, it has NEVER been liked, tweeted, or commented on. Currently though, my analytics are now showing that one page (article) accounts for about 1.7 million in sales since it was written four years ago. Fact is, most  blog articles at River Pools rarely crack more than a couple of social shares and maybe a few comments—often times not by consumers, but from those working in the industry.

River Pools

Real ROI

One of my newest clients who has produced over 150 blog posts in 3 months through insourcing, OnGoing Operations, has experienced incredible business gains already because of their content marketing—yet they almost never get comments or shares. But think about it, how often are people going to rush to Twitter or Facebook and share “How do DDoS Mitigation Services Work?

Ongoing Operations

Not the most “shareable” topic, is it?

I could literally go on and on with examples of clients that don’t allow social shares and comments to be KPIs whatsoever, but I’ll stop there, as I’m sure you get the point.

Content Marketing is about building your business, your brand, and your bottom line.

It’s not about comments and shares. And the minute it is, that’s when businesses lose their way and start allowing the false metric gods to dictate their success and focus.

Could comments and social shares be a byproduct of content marketing excellence? Yes, of course, and they can help things too.

But the keyword here is byproduct—not KPI.

Remember, it’s just dopamine running through our veins.

Your Turn:

A simple question for you today my friends: How would you rate comments and social shares as a KPI in content marketing? I’m sure we can all agree that the answer is “it depends,” but let’s see if we can’t dig a little deeper…

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