Why Facebook and Twitter Don’t Mean a Dang Thing for Online Success in Certain Industries

by Marcus Sheridan

I’ve come to the conclusion that the most overvalued number in all of social media and marketing is that of total ‘tweets’ and Facebook ‘likes’ when it comes to blog posts. Now now, before the hair on your neck stands up and you start screaming, please understand there are always exceptions to generalized statements, as is the case here. Notwithstanding, I’m tired of seeing so many business owners worried that their content isn’t getting ‘liked’ and ‘tweeted’ when all they really should be caring about is that their stuff is getting read and accomplishes the bottom line goal of making money.

That’s right, I say ‘making money’ because all the content and blog posts in the world don’t mean squat unless they are leading to more trust, leads, and ultimately paying customers. But I digress…

First Impressions in Social Media Don’t Mean Much

What do you say we have a little activity, shall we? I’m going to show you screen shots of blogs on my swimming pool website, including the social media stats of each (indicated with the red arrows), and then I want you to guess how many times that article has been read. Sound good? Here goes…

#1. Fiberglass Pool Prices Article

#2. Fiberglass Problems Article

 #3. Above Ground and Inground Cost Article

#4. Fiberglass vs Vinyl vs Concrete Article

#5. Small Inground Pool Designs Article

 #6. Pool Patio Materials Article

#7. Viking vs Trilogy Article

 #8. Swimming Pool Plumbing Article

 

(Note*** Do you remember my last article on the importance of post titles for SEO and visits? If so, can you guess the keyword goals for each of the above? Once you guess the keyword goal, type that into Google Search and see how each fared. You may be quite astounded. ;-) )

Your Impressions?

Now that you’ve had a chance to see how each of these articles did in terms of tweets, shares, G+, and Linked In; what would you guess were the total number of page views (reads) for these articles? To review, here are the social media stats for the group:

  • 19 Likes
  • 1 Tweet
  • 2  Google +
  • 0 Linked in Shares

Pretty Impressive, right?

In fact, many ‘experts’ in the world of social media marketing would submit that these pieces of content were a complete failure. But alas, those folks would also not know the following stats, exactly as they show today in my site analytics:

  • Article #1: 50,432 page views with 471 inbound links
  • Article #2: 46,002 page views with 424 inbound links
  • Article #3: 39,229 page views with 707 inbound links
  • Article #4: 20,327 page views with 185 inbound links
  • Article #5: 18,362 page views with 196 inbound links
  • Article #6: 14,893 page views with 157 inbound links
  • Article #7: 12,752 page views with 123 inbound links
  • Article #8: 8,765 page views with 208 inbound links

Grand total for the 8 articles: 210, 762 page views with 2,471 inbound links

What does all of this really mean?

Now you may be thinking, “OK Marcus, you got a few page views and links, what does that really mean?”

To which I’d respond, “Dang good question!” ;-)

But seriously, upon looking deep into my website analytics (using my Hubspot tracking tools) I can account for at least $2,000,000 in sales from these 8 articles alone. There is a good chance the number is higher, but it’s at least that much.

This number brings me back to my original question: Were these articles a success?

By this point, we all  know the answer is a resounding YES.

But there are many lessons to be learned from numbers such as these, and here are a few:

1. Many, many industries and niches should not be using ‘tweets’, ‘likes’, ‘shares’, etc as true success measurement tools. (This is especially true for thousands upon thousands of blue-collar industries where consumers focus on reading and researching, not sharing.)

2. Just because something doesn’t get shared on Social Media doesn’t mean it’s not a ‘cash cow‘–( drawing huge amount of visitors [usually through SEO], leads, and ultimately customers.)

3. Every business, industry, and niche needs to find what social media platform their customer are mainly using…and then go after said platform like there is no tomorrow. For some folks, this may mean your company focuses all of its attention, at least first, on creating great content through text and video on a blog. For others, it may mean you have the best Twitter account in your industry and drive much of your business through said account. As I’ve stated again and again, it goes back to the concept of knowing your shtick and shying away from being a social media jack of all trades, master of none.

4. To reiterate one more time, I think Twitter and Facebook can be great tools. They can also be decent success indicators. But every industry,  and every consumer, is different…and we must never forget that.

Your Turn:

There is plenty of room for debate on this topic, and I’d love to hear your take. Do you think platforms like Twitter and Facebook are grossly overvalued in certain industries as I do, or do you think I’m nuts and should be checked in to my local mental ward? Also, when it comes to your industry, what do you think is the best indicator of online success? Jump in everyone, the conversations we’ve been having here lately have been exceptional, and I expect this one to be no different.

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Reed December 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Agreed, Marcus. Assembling good, keyword rich blog posts (or articles) are what I like to call “social annuities”. Once those article are crawled and indexed, they they sit, doing their job day in and day out, retuning page views and creating better educated prospects that are closer to pulling the trigger on a sale. Yes, social sharing has its place in the social sphere , but a Facebook wall post or Tweet is ephemeral.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 1:35 am

Love the ‘social annuities’ phrase Bob. In fact, you can consider that one stolen and neatly placed in my vernacular. ;-)

Thanks so much for dropping in,

Marcus

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Bob Reed December 7, 2011 at 8:57 am

Just give me credit when you use it, and the oysters are on me in New Orleans.

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Howie at Sky Pulse Media December 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I have blogged about this before. Even online Media like the Huffington Post isn’t being helped by these buttons. I have shown how Mashable with 1.5mil twitter followers gets 40-60 retweets of an article if lucky. But their reader counts are huge. NY Times, the Economist the same.

So of course for B2B or B2C non-media this stuff isn’t doing anything. And while people say ‘It affects SEO’…..really? Not in any significant way. Your own SEO effort for your company website will trounce the +1s and likes when it comes to search results.

Very impressed Marcus. You are one smart Lion!

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 1:34 am

Isn’t that astounding Howie? The fact that someone with that many followers gets few (relatively speaking) tweets is mind blowing…and I’d say humbling as well to their social media department!

But I appreciate you ever-kind words my friend. Have a great one,

Marcus

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Troy Claus December 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Great post Marcus!

To add to it, I find one of the biggest mistakes businesses are making these days is building the foundation of their business on these tools and not on real business principals.

Understanding what a solid foundation is and how to build on it, and then, and only then introducing these tools (if necessary) to help enhance or communicate their message, product, service…etc.

Cheers my friend,
Troy Claus

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 1:33 am

Building a foundation on tools and not principles Troy? What?? Never!!! ;-)

You said it man. It’s a big problem….Guess folks like you and I will just have to work harder, ehh? ;-)

Cheers bud,

Marcus

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Lori Gosselin December 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Marcus,
I’m still fairly new at this, and learning every day, but I have to agree with Troy when he says you need a foundation first. I’ve been playing with social media for a year now and am just getting the hang of it ;o in terms of how to apply it to my other business! Still, there is much to be done! BUT my other business (Terra Cotta Pendants) is already established, tried and true. I’m using social media to get the word out more.
What I’m learning here about inbound marketing has helped a lot.
:-)
Lori

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 1:32 am

This is what I like so much about you Lori– you’re a learner. You seek new knowledge, each and every day, to better your life and business. How awesome is that! :-)

Continued success my friend,

Marcus

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Beth Kinder December 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Super awesome… I am not sure what is the best indicator for my niche. I know of many who read and never comment or like… they just read. I’m cool with that as long as I know it’s being read. It’s a lot of work to just be sitting out there in cyber land for no purpose! How I track who is reading and who isn’t is still up in the air… Good post though. If nothing else, it has me asking new questions of myself…

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 1:30 am

One thing you may want to do Beth is look at those same persons in your niche that are experiencing great success and see where there focus is. I would imagine FB would be a good medium for you, as well as video and blogging. Do you currently look at your analytics though? Like through Google’s free tool? If not, we need to get that going, as you can learn a lot by watching your website’s traffic behavior.

Thanks so much for stopping by Beth, you’re the best lady ;-)

Marcus

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John Verba December 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

It seems you’re getting more and more focused on what the marketing goals are, and how you can best evaluate what you’re really accomplishing. To me, you’re, more and more, sounding like an old-school direct marketer with new tools, mastering how they can help you gain real traction with buyers where the rubber meets the road.

Let me make one little observation, though. If one is going to make 210k impressions on an audience that leads to over $2MM in sales, is the key to have a blog, or is it to have a writer who can compose comparison-and-sales-decision guidance that 8k to 50k people want to share? Because if you take that ability and use it to compare cars…or kitchen appliances…or to guide a family in knowing what kind of dog to adopt, I bet your writing will get a similar amount of attention.

It’s really good to have a blog if you also have a Buddy Holly/Lennon & McCartney of decision-making content around to crank out hits. Or if you can teach less gifted people how to write to uncertain buyers, show an incredible amount of empathy, and reassure them that the most sensible course is so clear…and they can act with confidence and get on with life with a better future assured. ; )

So I ask, just to help people understand how to actually duplicate your success: Was the key to the $2MM in sales the blog, or the blogger? Were there plenty of guys on the staff of the pool place who could have gotten the same results that you did? Was there…one? If there is, should THAT guy be working at a pool place? ; ) If ANYONE generates $2MM in pool sales from eight articles, then what that person mostly is is a rock-star communicator, right? So: A blog can do an exceptional job for you if you do an exceptional job with it. It’s not the blog…it’s how much help/VALUE the words provide to the people reading them.

Thoughts?

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 1:02 am

Great question John. Clearly, this stuff isn’t about ‘the blogger’. If a company thinks like a consumer, and writes about the stuff consumers really want to know, these kind of results are available to everyone. What we’re really talking about in this article is content that Google falls in love with (because it’s so specific and relevant), then brings the lead into the top of the funnel…then, when used properly, pushes them further down said funnel, and then hopefully leads to an actual ‘customer’. The place where all this content resides is the blog. That’s the education/SEO hub when done right.

To me, it’s not so much about rock-star communication. It’s about listening to people. It’s about common sense. Then it’s about putting those thoughts and answers to pen….or in this case, digits.

Thanks again John,

Marcus

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John Verba December 7, 2011 at 3:18 am

Marcus. Hey…I think you just gave me the exact right phrase to use to make a crucial point. The point is: All sorts of people will buy Fabienne Fredrickson’s or Ali Browns success-building programs, or download your inbound marketing book. But the ones who will become outstanding successes using these (valid, valuable and workable) programs will be the ones who do an outstanding job of following the program, and show outstanding commitment, and have, develop or acquire/hire outstanding skills. Which is in keeping with the nature of competition and business.

Here’s the phrase you used that I think will let you see my perspective a bit clearer. You said, “If a company thinks like a consumer, and writes about the stuff consumers really want to know, these kind of results are available to everyone.”

“These kind of results are available to everyone” is the premise with the problem. You might want to sell everyone on the services, but if you supplied every pool supplier in your market with your book, consulted with them all, and guided them to all put up a blog and all additional support systems exactly like yours (but, yes, with slightly different copyrighted content, let’s say), they would not ALL sell $2MM of product after eight articles. Because…they can not ALL dominate the market, and if they ALL take a me-too marketing approach concerning blogs, they’ll have achieved a commodity situation, and, if any ONE was going to THEN stand out, that one would have to differentiate itself in another way.

Results that are “available to everyone” is something like: If you get a business card and hand it out, people will look at it once and put it in a pile or input it in a database. That’s an action and outcome available to everyone. Everyone does it. It accomplishes parity.

What you’re offering can give a company a crucial competitive advantage. That means its the last thing most of that company’s competition will ever do. Why? Because it’s not ordering a business card. It’s committing. It’s learning. It’s developing skills. It’s testing. Analyzing. Revising. Retesting. It’s available to anyone who wants to have results most everyone isn’t willing to put in the work to have. : )

Reconsider it in that context, and I think you might have to at least acknowledge that if it’s available to, as you said, “All companies that think like a consumer and write about stuff they really want to know”…that means all small businesses that approach marketing like a Fortune 500 marketer and create content like Top 100 marketing firms. You’re teaching them how to do this, and well, but it’s only really available to “everyone” who wants to take a completely different approach from everyone else. I mean, if they master “thinking like a consumer,” that will affect every facet of their operations and totally revolutionize their sense of what’s possible for the business from top to bottom. Anyone can do it, but simply learning and doing what almost no one else will do. So is it EASY? Or is it, more, IN REACH for those who are willing to learn how to reach further and know that nothing that good comes THAT easy?

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Robert December 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Marcus,

I am a huge advocate of Social Media but I definitely have to agree with you on this one. I’d almost go so far as to say that these share buttons could be detrimental and misleading on certain posts, as they are completely misrepresentative of the quality, value and success that the post brings. There’s no doubt that Social has transformed the internet, but it is still grossly misused and overvalued in certain industries.

Personally, I see much more value in Twitter than Facebook, but it’s all company dependent. What too many people often forget is that social media is primarily a tool for socialising, NOT selling. Therefore, if a company’s Social strategy is incorrect, or there is not much social interaction regarding their industry, then time and money spent on Social is likely to be a waste.

To conclude, social is great for the right company in the right industry; but good ‘old-fashioned’ SEO is FAR from dead. As you mentioned, different things work for different people, but its certainly better to concentrate on one platform than several when starting out.

Robert

PS I think your Twitter hastag should be #Dang! ;)

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 12:57 am

First of all Robert, that hashtag comment at the end was the coolest ever. Seriously, in my next big conference where I speak, I’m going to tell people to bust out that hashtag whenever they here the magic word. ;-)

But the other thing that I really loved about what you said was this: social is great for the right company in the right industry; but good ‘old-fashioned’ SEO is FAR from dead.

That, my friend, just about sums up the entire article perfectly.

Thanks for all your support and help Robert. :-)

Marcus

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Robert December 7, 2011 at 3:43 am

Awesome man,

I think that’s a good hashtag for you!

You’re welcome my friend, thanks for continuing to pump out awesome content!

Speak soon.

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Tom Treanor December 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Marcus,

You’ve got great SEO and keywords for that site so kudos to you for ranking #1 for key terms for most of those pages! In industries where people are not normally tweeting, sharing and liking, it’s not as necessary. In fact, people in those industries are not as used to doing all of that.

In the internet marketing world where the everyone tweets, shares and gets inbound links I think the bar is set higher and those things are more essential to get noticed and to get good links. We all think this is “normal” and when we see sites in other industries with no comments or shares we wonder what the problem is. Many times there’s no problem – some of those pages may be ranking on the first page of Google, quietly bringing steady traffic. I’ve seen it with one of my wood flooring clients. No comments or shares even asked for!

Thanks for taking off our blinders with this reminder (rhyme not intended!).

Tom

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 12:52 am

Tom, I always love it when you stop by man, you really seem to have an excellent perspective on things and I’ve got a feeling your a heck of a consultant in this thing we call online marketing with your clients.

Continued success my friend and thanks so much for everything,

Marcus

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Chanda Gunter December 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Obviously blogging is working for you but don’t just go off the numbers on the tweet and share buttons alone. I rarely use them at all. If I want to share something I copy the url link or copy through bit.ly. You may be getting more shares than you realize.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

There may be a few more shares Chanda, you’re right, but the percentage of folks that use a service like bit.ly compared to FB or twitter is very, very low. Either way, as I stated in the article, blogging works in some industries and situations the best, and does not work in others nearly as much. It all depends.

Thanks for stopping by Chanda,

Marcus

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Lincoln December 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Good information Marcus. After reading this it has helped me realize I need to really keep my customers focused on the BOTTOM LINE$ of how much more income they are realizing from links and articles that turn into revenue. If it doesn’t make dollars it definately doesn’t make sense to obsess over.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 12:50 am

Yes, Yes, YES Lincoln! Somewhere in all this social media ‘hype’, many folks have lost track of the fact that all that really matters is profitability. If that ain’t happening, a million likes and followers are an utter waste.

Thanks so much for the comment and stopping by,

Marcus

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Brent Carnduff December 7, 2011 at 2:35 am

Great article Marcus! Thanks for sharing those amazing numbers – the difference is surprising and staggering!

Your article brings up something I have been considering more lately as I work with other small businesses. Would I be wrong to suggest that you favor blogging, video and CMS over Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook? I know that they can all work together, and that there are always exceptions, but overall (if this statement is true) do you believe that these are better tools for most small businesses, or only what has worked best for you?

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 11:18 am

Hey Brent, great to hear from you bud. Here’s my answer to your question:

I prefer the platform that works the best for the industry and niche.

For example, I handle the marketing for a local restaurant where I live. The ONLY platform we use is Facebook. Most of the customers are +40, it’s a rural area, and so Twitter has almost no value.

Blogging really doesn’t have the ROI in this case either. The customer base is confined to such a small radius that blogging 3 times a week really isn’t time well spent.

We do a good bit of video though, simply because so many people are visual learners, and we want them to ‘see’ the restaurant and customer experience online before they even come in.

So to answer your question, it depends my friend.

Hope this helps,

Marcus

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Raj December 7, 2011 at 4:58 am

I guess social media would click for the articles that are liked by a lot of people and are interesting. One cannot really push a wikipedia like page on social network and hope that it will go viral! :) I guess we are expecting the wrong type of content to get a lot of social interaction, in this post.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

I think it’s important to understand that certain industries and products don’t have the same ‘share value’ when it comes to social media. When someone is looking to spend 50k on a swimming pool, they’re more worried about their decision, and not telling their friend about what they learned today about ‘How much a fiberglass pools costs’….Hopefully that makes sense.

Thanks for dropping by Raj.

Marcus

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Josh Sarz December 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

Great article, mane man.

You have an HUGE amount of pageviews there with so very little social media sharing activity. Quite a slap in the face for social media marketing.

That means the post didn’t go viral, but since it ranks so high that traffic is always coming to it regardless of the lack of shares.

Awesome point to ponder on.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

Hey Josh, thanks bud. You bring up an interesting word– Viral.

I’ve been thinking about that phrase. What really is viral? Is viral when an article goes nuts on Youtube or Stumbleupon and gets read 100k times, or is viral when an article may not get ‘shared’, gets read 1000 times, but those 1000 people are very, very serious about making a purchase of said product??

Something to think about…. ;-)

Marcus

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Bryan Thompson December 7, 2011 at 9:46 am

Marcus, this really made me think. For all the tweets and blogs out there about making money online, it’s easy to forget that the tools they’re using are first and foremost for “SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMENTARY.” Even blogging. The product may be great, but I would venture to guess that most of the people reading your pool blog are either pool manufacturers or sales people who are in a hurry to learn the most about their products and services as possible.

It’s like when you have car trouble and don’t want to take it to a mechanic. What do most of us do? Get online and search Google for any article we can get our hands on for HOW TO FIX THIS DANG THING. And when we’re done, thank you very much, it’s time to DO what it said to do. I NEVER think about sharing the article. Now, I’m a blogger and social networkers so maybe I SHOULD. But I usually don’t think that way when I’m dead-focused on something like CHANGING MY OIL. :)

OR…maybe we could just take them to the mechanic. IN which case my comment is useless. :)

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

That’s essentially what I’m trying to say here Bryan. The idea that people ‘share all great info’ is bull. It’s obvious from the page views, inbound links, and sales made that my swimming pool content is good. Heck, one might even consider it ‘shareable’. Yet it doesn’t get shared.

Why?

Because like you said, people are looking for an answer for themselves. They are getting ready to spend a lot of money and they’re focused on they’re wallet. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just the way the mind works.

Bottom line– There are many, many gauges of success measurements when it comes to content, blogging, and business.

Good to see you bud,

Marcus

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Keith December 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

First of all, I would probably look at this information completely differently (not that either way is right) and ask myself what could I be doing that would get my articles shared more? Instead of saying social media isn’t working, maybe say what we are doing isn’t working.

Social media is only one spoke in the wheel for marketing successfully online.

Another point I would make is just because the numbers don’t show on your buttons doesn’t mean it wasn’t shared either, people may manually share, those buttons don’t always give accurate details, etc…

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Keith December 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

Another point I would like to make is just because articles aren’t shared by your audience doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from having a good SM presence….. actually Marcus, I would 100% disagree with the title to this article, the more I think about it the more I disagree. Even in an industry like yours a presence with social media is just as important. Especially with the insertion of Google Plus which is already affecting search results.

I think people could read this article and go back to the archaic thinking that social media is just for tech businesses, totally false!

I built a fence business using only a blog and social media for my advertising, I have increased business to a chain of car washes using social media, I built my own consulting business using it, I am helping a home builder increase his brand awareness using it, restaurants, pet stores, flower shops, the list goes on….

Don’t think for a minute that just because your articles didn’t get shared means that “Twitter and Facebook Don’t Mean A Dang Thing” ….

Missing the boat, I say….

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

Keith, I appreciate and respect your feedback man, I really do, but I also think you need to read the final 4 points of the article again.

This article isn’t a beat down of social media. The title, I agree, is strong (intentionally) but the article itself takes a look at both sides and clearly says that success can be found with all tools and all corners.

The premise , though, which I feel you missed is that:

1. You don’t have to have a huge focus on sharing tools if your content and SEO are great.
2. Shares, tweets, etc aren’t directly correlated with long term content success.

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Keith December 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The problem with the premise Marcus, is that social IS part of SEO now, and it will be even more so as Plus grows…. Social is much more than just seeing how “viral” something can be, or how many fans/followers you can get.

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hypnodude December 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I agree 100 percent. As a matter of fact on my little website I have almost no traffic from social media and 90 to 95 percent of traffic comes from various search engines. Which in my humble opinion is pretty good. It might be that someone with a huge following can capitalize Facebook and Twitter but for me most of the times is just blabbering. Finding an interesting conversation is like finding gold in a river. Not so easy. But I don’t have 1.000 friends or followers there, that’s just my opinion.

I guess the best way to capitalize on both Twitter and Facebook is to have a huge following and then asking money to post but how many can do it?

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John Falchetto December 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

This reminds us of our discussion about comments aren’t a business model. I can think of many blogs which have few comments and the company behind it is making millions.

Now as Keith mentions, does it mean more comments or shares or likes would hurt?
Well let’s see. To get more comments, shares/likes would take more time to go and comment on other people’s blogs, share and like other people’s stuff.
THis is where I disagree with Keith, what is the goal?
Do we want to be shared/liked or do we want to make sales?
We all know the two aren’t linked.

So as you say, some businesses don’t NEED social media to be successful. Most of the clients aren’t using Twitter or FB to shop, but will definitely use Google, so it’s a choice of where to put limited time and resources.

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I agree with this John, comments are certainly not a business model, and whether or not they ‘help or hurt’ is business-specific I would think.

I would like to add something related that I’ve always found interesting:

You can sell and be hated, or you can sell and be liked, maybe you can even sell and be ignored (not sure about this one)…

…but which would you prefer to be?

Because I prefer to sell *and* be liked, what can I say? Everyone’s got a dream ;)

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John Falchetto December 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Not sure how you can sale and be hated Jason ;)

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I was thinking of someone like Howard Stern or Eminem or something :)

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Ameena Falchetto December 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Yes! To all this! I remember the days when I first started out on social media and I’d be stunned at how many RTs, FB likes, FB shares etc a post would get and then of course there was the comment count … I’d always feel that I had so far to go.

The reality is – IT DOESN’T MATTER. Numbers, numbers … all that counts is the number in the bank at the end of the month!

Yes, it does feel good, REALLY good, when you are RTd like mad or your post get’s stumbled but from what I’ve found it rarely converts to something that achieves my goal.

Thanks for a great reminder that the numbers are truly a false friend.

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

After all the numbers Paul leveraged in his post, it’s funny to sort of… ‘dismiss’ numbers, but I totally hear you Ameena :)

For me, I see numbers acting as a ‘strong, influential speech-maker’, but they’re far from ‘the final say’ on anything. :)

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Ameena Falchetto December 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Umm … Paul who? Sorry … lost.

I have posts that have gone viral – the have had thousands of views and shares over and over but they brought me very little in terms of loyal following and nada in sales … At the end of the day I am going for quality over quantity, online rocks but it’s not the only channel nor the final destination.

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm

OMG, I totally meant Marcus. I was over on FirePole responding to Paul Wolfe, and he just mentioned Marcus Sheridan, and I guess the two blended in my mind or something. Ack :P

I totally hear you :)

Your stuff is awesome, and I wish you Quality *and* Quantity, miss ;) (unless you don’t want that :P)

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Ameena Falchetto December 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Thanks Jason … I’ll take the quantity just so I can pick the quality! And it’s Mrs BTW ;-)

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Ah, Mrs… I know, I read your site. :)

It’s how I like to talk, I love gender-specific pronouns and use them liberally, lol.

(Once I’ve even had someone dismiss all the value I offer because of that alone!)

I guess that’s a personal quirk of speech I could highlight and applaud (or a habit that I could revise :D)

Woo! Fun thread! You guys rock! :)

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Cheryl Pickett December 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

One of my mentors, Kathleen Gage, says something that applies here well I think: “Marketing is an experiment”.

What does it mean to experiment? Lover of the life sciences that I am, I can say that it has to involve two steps, the process and the results/evaluation. That’s a lot of what we’re talking about here. There are marketing processes galore. Start with this, add some of that and that. But it’s called an experiment because the outcome is not known, at least at first. So that’s where results/evaluation come in. If you just keep doing the process over and over without paying attention to whether you’re getting either the result you want or something else entirely, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to keep doing it. A big key is to really evaluate results and then either continue or change course accordingly.

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Woo, Cheryl looks like you’re a step ahead of me (I recommended experimentation in my reply too :D)

I love it :)

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Great post, stats speak pretty strongly . It really got me thinking, which I’d guess was part of the goal :D

So I’ll share my thoughts:

I think this post actually touches on a much broader issue: Strategy (and/or) Tactics.

When looking at the success of anything, you can over-focus on either the strategy or the tactics.

Confusion on this issue is the main reason some people obsess over and ‘swear by’ twitter/facebook/etc., and then someone comes along and succeeds with barely any social media.

They used a strategy that suited them and their strengths/passions (whatever those happen to be), and they used tactics which were equally suited to them*.

*’Suited to them’ is vague, but every person can, through the tried-and-true process of experimenting (trial-and-error), find what suits them.

Seeing the tactics but not the strategy is missing the forest for the trees ;)

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John Verba December 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Reading this thread has been a productive use of time. Jason, Cheryl and Ameena’s, in particular, delivered value in my eyes. (Other’s perceptions may vary, of course.)

Here’s why: There can be strong voices in this area of marketing that say, “Cut ties with the past, everything that came before is stupid and misguided. We’re reinventing everything from here on. We know best, even though we have no idea what big agencies and top 100 direct marketers learned over the past 75 years.”

I’d recommend the approach: You have an interesting and very promising new communications channel. Learn what came before that worked, and didn’t, and build on it as you learn to use your new way of communicating.

What Cheryl is saying is “test test test.” Anyone from Time-Life or Publishers Clearing House or Omaha Steaks can tell you that.

Ameena and Marcus both seem to be suggesting that multi-channel marketing will usually beat single-channel, and to fish where the fish are, when it comes to picking channels. That’s not a lot different than what media buyers looked for from Standard Rate and Data Service guides: What are the eyes of the people THIS CLIENT needs to reach looking at?

And everyone, as they discuss content, is, more and more, discussing what direct response people knew (that mass market advertisers don’t, as much)…”It’s not how you say it…it’s what you say.” Creativity is great, but people read what holds their interest, and benefits definitely hold their interest.

And Jason’s “tactics versus strategy” message is also very familiar. All sorts of people have made all sorts of videos that we lose interest in in 10 seconds, or watch, expecting SOMETHING to happen, and then say, “I don’t understand why this was made or what someone hoped to accomplish.” But, yes, it “made use” of video.

But, anyway, yes…more and more, there seems to be an awareness of, “Let’s not tell each other what we’ve decided should work, and make fun of the non-believers…let’s find and do what WILL work, based on what people already know about communications and relationships, coupled with what our customers and prospects tell us with their actions.”

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Wow, thanks so much John, you’re no slouch yourself! You contributed like a boss to this topic!

Your and Marcus’s “Results that are “available to everyone” ” conversation was definitely interesting. I’d like to weigh in briefly if I may…

For myself, I summarize issue like so:

“Results are *available* for everyone, but *ready-ness* to succeed is extremely individual.”

Just a personal summary, that I find works for me, but it might shed light. :)

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Christian Hollingsworth December 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Love this post.

Every niche and industry is different.

Reminds me of when I was working with the mushing community in online web projects. Loads of traffic was driven simply through message forums. That’s the “one” tool the mushers really were craving.

Or in another industry, with a large proportion of business-level men – LinkedIn was specifically the greatest tool for the project. Much more success than groups in Facebook, Twitter, etc…

Don’t point the finger so fast that you don’t look at the benefits and audience of a certain social network.

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Jason Fonceca December 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

“Don’t point the finger so fast that you don’t look at the benefits and audience of a certain social network.” – Tweetable ;)

Rock on Christian!

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Ryan Hanley December 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Marcus…

Every single month… I mean EVERY SINGLE MONTH the two most Searched articles on my site:

“When Do I Drop Collision Coverage?”

“What Is Water-Back Up and Sump Pump Failure?”

How exciting do you think these two posts are? Not at all…

How many shares do you think these two posts have gotten? Maybe 1 or 2…

How many views? Thousands… Probably tens of thousands but I don’t feel like looking right now.

This is a perfect follow-up to your previous article and conversation we’ve been having about Searchable Posts and Witty Post Titles…

It all comes down to your goal. Excellent stuff buddy. Real examples are so powerful. Love the screen shots.

Ryan H.

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Cheryl Pickett December 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Hey Ryan,
Thanks much for those examples. In my previous life I was the “everything manager” as I liked to call it for a local insurance agent for 8years+. I currently have a couple of potential clients in the industry as well, so your involvement here solidifies my thought that this kind of strategy can work for them. Again, thanks for being open to sharing.

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Ryan Hanley December 8, 2011 at 7:40 am

Cheryl,

There is SO much need within the Insurance Industry! Good luck! If you ever have any Insurance specific questions feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan December 9, 2011 at 11:43 am

Man Ryan, I love these two example brother. There about as perfect a long-tail example as there is.

Keep doing your things my man, and thanks for the thoughtful discussion you always bring when you come by these parts. :-)

Marcus

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Susana Nakatani December 8, 2011 at 9:27 am

I totally agree with this post. Very often Social Proof is just an illusion. What really matters is what happens behind the scene.

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Marcus Sheridan December 9, 2011 at 11:42 am

I like how you put that Susana—’Social Proof is often just an illusion’

Amen to common sense, ehh? ;-)

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Brankica December 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I’ve seen similar numbers on several of my niche sites but never really cared because they were making money. Some niches are just not “tweetable”. So I just moved all the buttons to the bottom of the page and left them there not to interfere with the process of sending money to my wallet. Love your point, Marcus.

PS I think you should check the Social M. Examiner nomination page *hint*hint*

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Marcus Sheridan December 9, 2011 at 11:40 am

Hahahaha, love it Bran! ;-)

And yes, hint well taken :-)

Marcus

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Sam Ricchezza December 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

Ahmen Marcus! It’s all about the revenue. Being in an industry myself that is behind in social media, I can attest that sharing doesn’t matter. All I know is that I am generating revenue that is game changing for us. Keyword optimized content generation is the key. Will I ignore social media? No, because it’s easy to set up and doesn’t cost anything. Where it goes is hard to predict, but it’s also hard to ignore.

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Marcus Sheridan December 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm

That’s the thing Sam, it is all about revenue. Sometimes folks act like it’s not….to those persons, I have to think they don’t have bills to pay and employees to write checks to every Friday.

Keep rockin bud, and thanks so much for taking a moment to leave your thoughts here. :-)

Marcus

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Mike Martel December 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Finally a post that demonstrates that not every business needs to run out and spend half their time managing social media. I see way too many business chasing the shares and retweets.
Just stumbled on your site on my travels across the Internet. Will be back.
Michael

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Ryan Critchett December 13, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Maybe overvalued for the effect of retweets and likes, but certainly not for the effect that having conversations (consistently) with people in your target territories, has.

Retweets, beyond sending signals to the engines, certainly could be useless in certain industries, so I actually agree with what you’re saying.

How did those articles contribute to so much sales? People read the articles because they were looking for that information for the purposes of buying a pool? And they ended up going with you guys?

If so, very impressive Marcus.

SO YEA, too many people look at tweets and likes as the only success metrics out there. There are sooo many others. If you’re doing a video blog for example, you may not get a bunch of retweets or likes, but if a couple of people in your target market see it (from you sharing it on some social channel), seeing you on video binds to their trust receptors!!

Trust receptors! Great post man.

R

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Jason Te Riini December 15, 2011 at 12:12 am

This is excellent

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Jason Te Riini December 15, 2011 at 7:22 am

Just another question how do you get traffic to your blog?

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Tito Philips, Jnr. December 17, 2011 at 7:34 am

A very revealing post Marcus.
Truth be told, not many folks go down this road, even I included. I only recently began to look beyond the comments, tweets, likes and other forms of sharing to realize how much engagement goes on beyond these popular social media metrics.

The very obvious fact is this, most of these social media metrics are used by majorly people like us too, social media marketers or bloggers who also seek for the same favour in return when we get to their blog. But like I am beginning to realize, not all industries need bloggers as customers. In fact, they are not even in their target market, so if we all keep measuring our progress from the lens of fellow bloggers, we might just be short paying ourselves.

Thanks for sharing. Great insight!

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Jeff Aronson December 19, 2011 at 1:56 am

Marcus, a very interesting read… your post and all the comments. I have one (maybe dumb) question: Exactly how did you attribute the $2MM in sales directly to those 8 posts? I can understand that they contributed, but exclusively?

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Marcus Sheridan December 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm

That is actually a GREAT question Jeff. I’m able to recognize how visitors come to my website through the keywords. So if a visitor fills out a form, I will know how they entered the site, but I’ll also track them all the way down the funnel until they turn into a customer. The analytics I use for this are with Hubspot, but it’s a beautiful thing because it gives me a true ‘ROI’ that most folks simply never measure.

Thanks for the excellent question Jeff!

Marcus

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Bettertax December 19, 2011 at 3:18 am

Great article and I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve been saying for a long time that each company needs to recognise their market and know where their customers are.

Having said that, I don’t think it hurts to have accounts on any or all platforms, but just don’t go pulling your hair out when no one shares or “likes” .

I’ve just started blogging (on blogger unfortunately – need to integrate a WP blog into an HTML site) and in the few short months it’s had hundreds of pageviews, that would, of course, have been going to the website.

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Marcus Sheridan December 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I don’t think it’s necessarily bad that people have multiple platforms, but I do find that most folks simply can’t seem to do more than one or two well. This isn’t always the case, and personally I adhere to multiple these days, but that doesn’t mean I’m actually doing it right. ;-)

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Jeff Aronson December 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Thanks for the kind words. I liked your post so much, I gave you a big shout-out on my blog. Hope to send more eyeballs your way!
http://www.roqlogic.com/?p=491

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Jens P. Berget January 14, 2012 at 6:55 am

Hi Marcus,

I haven’t experienced a business where social media doesn’t matter, but your example is very interesting and I’m sure I’ll end up working with a client where I’ll have to do things differently when it comes to social media. What’s interesting to me is that social media is all about people, and most people I know (I’m not talking about marketers) are not filtering how they’re using social media and who they’re talking to. For instance, the Mayor is both politician, father, husband, friend etc.. at the same time on SM, and that’s how he uses it when it comes to sharing as well.

I believe that as long as we always focus on (the right) people, we’ll be able to get things shared. On the other hand, I’m starting to think of SM as a way to listen more than participating… :-)

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