The 10 Most Misleading Social Media Metrics in the World

by Marcus Sheridan

Numbers. You want them. I want them. We all want them.

But there is a big problem with all these social media numbers that are soooo important to the success of your business—many don’t mean squat.

In other words, a number, no matter how high it is, is worthless to a business unless it leads to more sales and customers, period.

So that’s what this article is about. And frankly, I expect many of you will want to disagree with my following thoughts, to which I happily invite you to call me an idiot and make your thoughts known in the comments section below. :-)

The 10 Most Misleading Social Media Metrics in the World

1. Alexa

Ahh yes, Alexa, our favorite traffic indicator and a metric that finds itself on almost every social media geek’s toolbar in the world. I’ve discussed the gross inaccuracy that is Alexa before, but let me point out a quick example of why this tool is so grossly out of tune for those that worship its readout.

As of today, 5/30/2012, the Alexa Ranking for The Sales Lion is 46,500 and averages 900-1200 visitors a day on the site. My other site, River Pools and Spas, has an Alexa ranking of about 230,000 (keep in mind the higher the Alexa ranking, the worse it is) and averages 2000-4000 visitors a day. And why is there such a gross inaccuracy? Because Alexa is extremely flawed, that’s why.

Moral of the story? Stop worrying about Alexa, stop comparing your site so much with others, and start focusing on numbers that are actually accurate.

2. Klout

Maybe I should just bring in Danny Brown to discuss Klout for a minute but let me just say this—I still, to this day, do not know my Klout Score. I also don’t want to know your Klout score. Why? Because if there ever was a mannequin in digital form, it’s Klout—a soulless representation of the worth, or should I say “influence” of a real person. Yeah, I get the appeal. And yes, I see why so many companies are sucked in by the facade, but that doesn’t mean that you or I need to join such an empty movement. Here’s an idea– Let’s judge others by their real qualities, their real works, and the feelings we get when we actually converse with the real person. (image credit)

3. Twitter Followers

It kills me when I see someone bragging about how they reached 100k Twitter followers, only to find out they’re also following, in return, 100k people. In my book, that’s called “twitter trading” and it’s a stupid business model and certainly nothing to yap off about.

Yes, Twitter followers do indicate, in some ways, one’s influence. But the more important number is the followers to follow-back ratio. In other words, let’s say someone has 20,000 Twitter followers but they themselves also follow 19,890 people. Would you say that person has more “influence” than the person that has 5,000 followers but only follows back 400 people?

To me, the latter has shown a much greater “influence” or “fan base” than the person with 4x as many followers.

Oh, and lest I forget services like Usocial that have made a business out of selling empty twitter followers to companies dumb enough to actually buy them.

Sad...but true.

4. Likes, Tweets, Shares

This one makes me laugh every time, because there are literally folks in this world who think stuff doesn’t get read online unless it has been socially shared a million times. I’ve discussed this in great depth before, but here’s an example. By looking at the following image, how many times would you say this article (on my swimming pool site) has been read?:

Silly Social Media Numbers

Wow! Look at those awesome social media numbers!

If you guessed this article has been read over 60,000 times and produced hundreds of thousands in sales (read how I measure this ROI number here), then you’re right.

Notwithstanding, most folks will look at these 4 likes and 1 tweet and think the article is a failure.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take hundreds of thousands in sales any day of the week over a few social media numbers I’ll never, ever be able to take to the bank on Fridays.

5. Fans

Fans are fine. Fans are nice. But having a Facebook fan, just as with “tweets” and “likes”, doesn’t mean profits. Just as General Motors pulled their 10 million dollar ad campaign on Facebook, the ROI (return on investment) of Facebook advertising and fans will be a hotly debated subject in the months and years ahead.


Remember that article I wrote entitled “10,862 Comments Later I Realize Blog Comments are NOT a Business Model”? Well, I stand by those words today more than ever. Just as I stated before, I appreciate blog comments. I love discourse, especially when it’s between readers. There is also much knowledge and inspiration that can be derived from a comment section.

Notwithstanding these things, many businesses and blogs have utterly failed, despite their large number of comments. Why? The main reason is because commenters are often times not paying customers. Granted, this varies by niche, but it’s reality.

And for those that want to know where the interaction with actual paying customers occurs, I’d suggest your business start an electronic newsletter and build your email list—the true hidden community of any blog.

7. Video Testimonials

This one may not be considered a true “social” metric, but I wanted to list it anyway. Fake video testimonials are officially rampant on websites all over the globe. The main reason for this is the proliferation of sites like Fiverr (which I’m a fan of btw) that offer any service under the sun, one of which is free video testimonials for any product, any company, and any piece of junk out there.

Fake Fiverr Videos

Yep, it used to be you actually had to "earn" video testimonials for your company.

8. Pinterest

Jay Baer wrote a great article on this recently but thus far, Pinterest traffic, in most realms, is a joke (from a conversion standpoint). As quickly as a Pinterest referral hits your site, it’s often gone. This isn’t necessarily a knock on Pinterest nor its value, but my main point here is that going gaga over a rush of Pinterest traffic is silly—at least until you’re able to see how that traffic converts into leads.

9. StumbleUpon (and others like it)

I had the funniest conversation with my friend John Falchetto recently  when he told me how he hates it when his blog gets “stumbled” because it kills his bounce rate and generally equates to zero business.

I have to say, John is not alone in his assessment of StumbleUpon. Yeah, sure it can send a bunch of people to your site in a short period of time, but if none of those folks turn into actual leads, have you really accomplished anything? (Are you noticing a trend here?? ;-) )

10. Viral Video

OK, so you got a ga-billion views on YouTube—great—but how many new customers came from it?

I’m of the opinion it’s silly to spend major effort on creating anything with the sole purpose of going “viral”. Rather, instead of trying to go viral, attempt to be helpful. Try to think exactly like your end-user (customer) and answer their questions, needs, etc.

I’ve produced hundreds of videos over the last few years for my businesses. None have gone “viral”, yet many have produced leads and sales—which again, is what really matters if you’re living in the world called “Running a Business.”

Your Turn

So those 10 social media metrics I feel are grossly misleading and often misinterpreted. Now I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which ones do you agree/disagree with? Why? Also, what are some other metrics you feel should be added to the list?

Jump in friends, let your voice be heard.

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd Lohenry May 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm

What do similar tool do you recommend instead of Alexa?


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:47 am

Honestly Todd, there really isn’t a good one out there. For what it is, Alexa is likely the best, but my main point is that we really shouldn’t believe its accuracy, nor its worth to our bottom line.


Chris Poterala June 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Alexa sucks, out loud. If you want to do some “comparison shopping” between your site and others, check out or Quantcast.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

So what you’re saying is you’re a big Alexa fan, right Chris?? ;-)

Thanks for stopping by :-)



Chris Johnson May 30, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Yeah, our videos don’t get shared. I’m fine with that. Because our customers are reporting epic sales.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

And that, my friend, is all that matters. :-)


Geoff Livingston May 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I’ll through Compete into this consideration. As bad as Alexa, and definitely all over the map with its traffic results.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

Yep, very good point Geoff. The few times I’ve looked at Compete I’ve that “What is this junk??? Are you kidding me??” :-)


Danny Brown May 31, 2012 at 10:48 am

The thing I hate about Compete is it only tracks US traffic. Um…


Matthew Stock May 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

It all comes down to ROI. All the other stuff at best is a barometer, and they only really apply if you do business on a national / international level. Having fans / tweets / comments outside our service area, while nice, doesn’t pay the bills.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:43 am

And that’s exactly why you “get it” Matt Stock.

Keep rockin the basement world my friend,



Rebecca Livermore May 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Marcus, thanks as always for making me think, and challenging some of my assumptions.

I appreciate the mention of Stumbleupon, as I have not taken the time to figure that one out. I do know some writers who use it, and it makes sense for them to do so because they get paid based on page views. But I can see how it can really kill a good bounce rate (I’ll tell you privately what mine is and I must say I’m happy with it and would not like messing it up).

I have heard that traffic from Pinterest also tends to have a very high bounce rate, but I can’t say myself since I haven’t really done anything with it. But if that is really the case, then it doesn’t sound worth my time. I’m definitely focused on quality traffic over quantity, but getting both would be nice. :)


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:42 am

Quality over Quantity….hmmm Rebecca, now why in the world would you have such an odd focus??? ;-)


Louise Myers Graphic Design May 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Thanks for shooting holes in these myths! I appreciate the breath of fresh air.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

You’re very welcome Louise!


Claire May 31, 2012 at 12:30 am

I do know some writers who use it, and it makes sense for them to do so because they get paid based on page views. And I pretty appreciate your post. Thanks for sharing.


Jon Loomer May 31, 2012 at 2:47 am

The one that stings just happens to be #1. I know you’re right, though. My site may actually be ranked higher on Alexa than yours, Marcus (and you’re damn right it feels good even if it means nothing!), but I know better. You get way more interaction in your comments section, which tells me that you have a more engaged audience. Which also likely means these people make up a loyal following and are more likely to be buying customers.

Then again, you say comments don’t mean anything either, so… Yeah!

Anyway, I agree with most of this. I freaking hate the Twitter numbers padding game. It’s worse than on any social network, in my opinion. It’s why I appreciate that you don’t follow everyone back like most social media “experts.” It’s freaking dumb and insincere.

The Google+ circles stuff is just as bad, really. Klout and all of these overly basic metrics that we use to measure “influence” — which idiots just exploit — kill social media.

Oh, and right on about StumbleUpon. Stupid site. When I get into the Sumble rotation, I’ll get 100+ referrals and the average time on site of just a few seconds each. Such a waste.

Thanks for the knowledge, Marcus! Now back to my clearly superior website…


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

Hahahaha Jon, you made me smile with this one bud. :)

Great thoughts and observation man, as always…



Sue Grimm May 31, 2012 at 5:25 am

I agree with you on everything you say except I think #3 is tricky regarding how many people someone follows on Twitter. I’ve studied this a lot to try to determine how I proceed with my own efforts. It sure isn’t easy to understand at first so what you say is good advice so people aren’t lulled into the games people play.

But I have seen some people who do follow back anyone who is real and a genuine connection and may end up following a lot of people as a result. So I look to see if a person is engaging with anyone, or I send them an @message. It’s tricky, because I know there are people who simply can’t always respond, and I get that, so I don’t try to get their attention and still may follow because I like what they say.

But there is another group. There are also people who are real and approachable who try to help people out by following them (and making them feel they matter, which is important) even if they means they have a high ratio of followers to who they follow. They get a vote of confidence from me in the influence measurement and you can tell the difference.

It’s tricky and and there is a lot more than numbers will ever tell you about someone on Twitter, which fits with what you say in the end anyway.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:05 am

I don’t disagree at all Sue. There are certainly some folks on Twitter that follow back most folks, yet clearly do have influence.

My main point was the reality that we can’t just base how we judge one’s “twitter awesomeness” on sheer number of followers, and ratio should be part of the influence that person truly has.

But it’s an interesting study and debate for sure…

Thanks so much for your thoughts Sue!



Ross Densley May 31, 2012 at 6:44 am

Thanks for this Marcus, appreciate the time you take to blog.

Really like your point on Twitter influence – to me (and i argue with the folks in the office about this) the ratio is a good indication of influence. If i stumble on someone on twitter who’s followers far outweigh the people they are following, i take a closer look, because to me this tells me that they must be influential or a good person to follow because they haven’t been ‘unfollowed’.

Playing devils advocate, and appreciating that leads are the bottom line, i think comments and social shares, while not the be-all-and-end-all, are a good barometer of worthwhile content in particular fields. I follow the Lohud Yankee blog for real-time updates on the team and commentary, and i know that blog has numbers off the chart, but they don’t get social shares at all. Why? Probably because the content is informative but not something people want to tell their friends.

On the flipside, I do think it is good for certain businesses. For the layman landing on a site for the first time comments and social shares instantly say: this content is good and popular and if there is a community here it might be worth me coming back soon.

Anyway, just my two cents. Great blog though. I’m hoping the follow up will be… 10 awesome social media metrics you CAN’T ignore … ;-)




Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 9:59 am

Ross, stellar comment man. You and Nate have made some excellent points.

Without a doubt, every industry is different. Social shares are a great barometer for some, not for others. But my point here (with #4) was more that we can’t look at social shares as the end-all success factor for the articles/pages we write. Leads generated MUST be the end-all. And until we start getting our priorities straight, I think we’re going to wallow around in this mush and mystery called “Social Media ROI”.

Thanks again man,



Ross Densley May 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

Hey Marcus, thanks for the reply.

I absolutely agree with your points above. Interesting that you say leads are the end-all. I am currently negotiating with my employer that referrals and leads are the best barometer to judge the success (or not) of a social media campaign. They want actual revenue – the leads to BECOME customers, which is obviously the next step… and something which is a little more challenging from a social prospective. Would love to know your thoughts on this.




Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

Actually Ross, yes, I’d say sales/customers tie in with leads in a major way and don’t want to diminish their important at all, as a million leads with no sales equals no success as well. But the barometer has to start somewhere.

Thanks again man,



Nate Riggs (@nateriggs) May 31, 2012 at 8:13 am

I love your stuff dude, but I’m not sure I fit into the echo chamber that has become your comment thread on this post. Yes – I absolutely agree that for business, increases in sales and decreases in costs are really all that matter. No argument there.

But I have to be honest on this as well — a ton of the other metrics you mentioned are important means to the end goal of profits, if you are like most of us who weren’t able to carve a deep root in a very specific niche like your pool business, Gary V’s wine business, etc.

For example, in #4 you make the case against the importance of social sharing on your content — “If you guessed this article has been read over 60,000 times and produced hundreds of thousands in sales”. You and I both know that the post was a successful business driver because 1. You optimized it for search engines really well (with the help of your Hubspot suite). 2. Your pool business sits in a very specific localized niche where other players aren’t to your sophistication level in terms of online marketing and SEO. It would be interesting to see your analytics on direct traffic VS search traffic VS social traffic. My guess is that search traffic is off the charts.

For the majority of businesses out there (including my own agency) it’s not as easy as you make it sound to leverage search marketing and get big wins, especially when the playing field is filled with savvy online marketers all fighting for eyeballs with the same tactical moves. While tapping the power of generating attention though social sharing tactics is only one trick in the bag, you also cannot discount the value of social sharing for companies who have MCUH steeper competition in terms winning first page, above the fold indexed results in organic SERPS.

Again, love your stuff dude — you know that. I just wanted to share a different perspective…


Nate Riggs (@nateriggs) May 31, 2012 at 8:16 am

Haha. I think Ross (above commentator) and I must have been typing at the same time this morning : )


Ross Densley May 31, 2012 at 8:31 am

Haha, absolutely Nate – and i agree with your comment completely. I think you hit the nail on the head with both points: the importance of search and the niche nature of the swimming pool business.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

Nate, this was some sweet action man. So glad you stopped in to share your thoughts and points.

As for #4, please understand that I’m not saying tweets, likes, and shares aren’t bad, or don’t help, etc. My point really is that they aren’t always very true indicators of an article’s ROI nor success, especially because of SEO and email marketing, and the way content is used within each. Make sense?

I certainly understand search marketing ain’t easy. Actually, the process of thinking like a customer, and answering their questions (every one), that’s not as hard as we make it– but content saturation in certain industries is getting thicker and thicker each and every day, so yeah, I get that.

But I still think 99% of businesses don’t go about content and SEO and consumer questions and search with the right approach…and I think that will be the case for at least 3-5 more years.

Again, thanks for dropping in my man.



Nate Riggs (@nateriggs) May 31, 2012 at 11:29 am

That’s a fair response, and thanks for clarification. I do think you are spot on about content, SEO, etc. Then again, that’s a good thing for agency folks like me. At least I know my kids will eat for another 5 years or so… ;)


Jason Diller May 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

Marcus… great post.

I was looking for engagement rings for my girlfriend and all the sites have so many reviews on them about how “she loved the ring so much, she started crying!”

And then I thought about how I wanted to buy a few video testimonials from some cool sounding guy or girl with some English or Australian accent from a few months ago…

I don’t trust any review online. Am I just crazy? I feel like anytime I read/watch a review or testimonial online, it’s written by the owner, etc.

Maybe google + places will create the best online review system?

And yeah, likes and tweets don’t matter in the mulch and topsoil world either…

Hope all is well bro!


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

What’s up Jason, how are you my man??! Always so great to hear from someone like you who I respect the heck out of and is living it and breathing it.

And good examples too man.

Keep pushing,



Marketers coop May 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

You are right in every last detail of what you say, but I would add that although commenters may not always be buyers, they are usually the ones who regularly share your content which often times can result in customers.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 9:49 am

There is no question that commenters are often times great fans that spread the good word, but there are also sites that don’t get comments, yet get huge numbers of social shares. In other words, # of comments does not reflect # of social shares, and so I don’t think we can lump the two together.

At least that’s my opinion ;-)


Marie Wiese May 31, 2012 at 9:29 am

Another great post that marketers and business owners alike should all read. I agree with all of your observations and I would like to add two metrics that marketers should not ignore and that is where people are coming from to get to a site and what they are using. Your web stats are a gold mine of information about where you should focus your time and marketing dollars. Here are two example:
1. Look at the most popular social media sources coming to your site (for most B2B companies it’s Linked In so spend your time there).
2. Determine how high your mobile traffic is and whether you have done a good job in helping people consume your content regardless of what device they are using. (Many B2B sites are not mobile friendly.)

I am amazed at how people are scrambling to up their Twitter followers or get likes on Facebook and they don’t yet have the basics right in their web presence strategy. So to your point, what is the point of volume or scores if you are not understanding and engaging with your best source of referrals and making it easy for them to connect and consume your content?


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 9:42 am

Marie, WOW, this was such a great point. No question, we’ve got some pretty screwed up priorities, especially those of us that aren’t mobile friendly yet are instead worried about a few more followers. I mean, really??

Sound advice indeed. Thanks so much for sharing Marie.



Michael Stetina May 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

Marcus, you’ve done it again! I wish every one of our potential clients could read this post. We have advocated examining the ROI of online advertising for quite a while. The amount of billable hours being wasted by social media “professionals” is astounding. We have met very few who are interested in the financial return for the amount of money being spent every month by their clients.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:37 am

But you know Michael, all of that is going to change soon, it will. ROI will be the ultimate metric once the novelty wears off and we’ve got to get back to making a profit.

Thanks for your thoughts!



farmnwife May 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

Amen, Brother. Preach it.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

Hahaha, will do ;-)


Terence Q. Burns May 31, 2012 at 9:46 am

I loved reading this article. Some of the mentioned sites I do belong too. I also belong to more sites that aren’t even listed and this is a great advantage for to me to keep on using the services since they all are filled up with excitement on a daily basis! One thing that I’ve noticed since marketing online is that a lot of people don’t keep up with the happenings on the web. It is a shame how the things that are posted aren’t received by the non-readers at all.


Adarsh Thampy May 31, 2012 at 9:56 am


Sadly, I cant disagree with you as you wanted in the original post. However here are my thoughts.

Numbers are very important- if you are looking at the right numbers that is (Conversion rates, goal landing pages and such). However, with startups like Klout, many people are falling into the trap of playing the numbers game.

One good (questionable) aspect of the number game is that many people make a living out of satisfying the ego issue of webmasters.

I have seen offers to increase klout scores for as less as 5$. Then there are twitter follower services, YouTube channel subscribers, guaranteed tweets, likes, and what not.

I recently landed on a site where one article had around 400+ tweets, 275+ likes. However 0 comments. Looking at the rest of the articles, I could see almost the same number of tweets and likes on almost all posts suggesting that the user is using some automated means to get the comments and likes.

But, what’s the use of doing this? He lost all credibility- At least in front of me.

I hope everyone wakes up to the fact that unless your end goals are reached, there is no point in these numbers.

Great article Marcus.


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:33 am

One good (questionable) aspect of the number game is that many people make a living out of satisfying the ego issue of webmasters.

Adarsh, dude, spot-on statement my man, and excellent comment.

As always, it comes back to the real goals of running a business, and the rest is just fluff.

Thanks for all,



Micheal Jonas May 31, 2012 at 10:09 am

Awesome sharing. These information will be of great value to me.


John Falchetto May 31, 2012 at 10:11 am

When it comes to business, the only number I truly pay attention to is the one in my bank account.

Everything doesn’t mean much. You can have tons of traction online and yet make very little.

Unfortunately big numbers online don’t equate big returns. It would be too easy :)

On the other side there are very successful businesses whose online presence doesn’t look like a Christmas tree and yet they are making money hand over fist. Your pool company is a very good example of this.

See you next week in NYC buddy!


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

Yep to all point around JF.

Have a great trip across the pond my friend!!!



barbara May 31, 2012 at 10:19 am

I recently participated in a webinar about google analytics for writers. According to the information I learned there I’m doing much better than I ever realized. Did it rock my world or change how or what I do with my website? No. I still don’t know how #’s can be so incredibly different from one measuring stick to the other. Therefore I really don’t care.

I just keep on keepin’ on.
Loved this Marcus!


Marcus Sheridan May 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

Yep, you just keep on keepin on Barbara, which is one reason why I think you’re so successful online and you continue to push forward.

Smiles to you lady :-)



Danny Brown May 31, 2012 at 10:54 am

It’s the Catch 22 syndrome, isn’t it, mate? Social proof and web rankings are great to show off, but don’t often equate to business and financial goals being met. Yet the social proof is often the first thing organizers look to when trying to find speakers for their event. Hey ho. :)

The trouble with many metrics is that they’re limited. As Geoff mentions in his comment, Compete is an awful way to track anything that’s outside the US. Alexa only really tracks sites where the toolbar or script is installed (even on the browser), and the less said about Klout the better…

One thing I would mention about the GM/Facebook fiasco – there seems to be a lot more than meets the eye:

If this is true, it would appear to be sour grapes from GM and the timing around the IPO makes it very questionable. I wonder if any GM shareholders have FB shares? If so, then they need to be asking some questions of the withdrawal of ads, and GM’s old-school approach to advertising on social.

Cheers, sir!


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hey DB, sorry for my late reply on this friend, but you’ve added some great points, as always.

So thankful for your support,



Kara May 31, 2012 at 11:12 am

Why didn’t you mention Google Page Rank? Or the piece of crap that is


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Because I’ve got great readers like you Kara that can fill in the gaps I missed. ;-)

Thanks for dropping by,



Pat Chiappa May 31, 2012 at 11:18 am

thanks for shining the spotlight on misleading metrics – newbies like myself get so confused with all of it that we don’t know what or who to believe.

You’re the real deal Marcus – thanks for sharing this great info.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Honored with your kind words Pat, that’s so very much. :-)



Allen MacCannell May 31, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hi Marcus,

Your post was important for people to read because, of course ROI and sales conversion is the only metric that counts. But we all know that direct social media traffic hasn’t been as big a deal as traffic from the SERPS and repeat traffic based on a great reputation.

What wasn’t answered, however, is the effect that an effective social media presence has on the SERPs themselves…a more indirect result of social media activity compared to anything that might come directly from a retweet or Facebook share but, in reality, what most marketers are shooting for.

I’ve noticed that being active posting good content on Twitter and Facebook has seemed to help shoot us to the #1 position on Bing and Yahoo for “Online SEO Tools” for instance (at least yesterday) . That’s a competitive keyword.

We’re only at #8 on Google for that. Usually we’ve done better on Google than Bing.

But the SERPs have lately been more weighted for social media activity and, Facebook and Twitter activity get reflected on Bing (and Yahoo).

That might mean we’ll need to be a bit more active on Google+ (one needs to be aware that the different search engines are forced by circumstances to give weight to different social media outlets).

IMHO the most important thing not answered in the above article was something I consider the gorilla in the dining room and I’ve been trying to get an answer from Matt Cutts and the Bing managers about this:

Do the search engines really give more weight to a Twitter “snob” compared to a company or corporate individual that refuses to diss reasonably serious followers by implying to them that he/she isn’t interested in what they have to say?

Now you say your colleagues argue with you about what people “think” when they see a big follower ratio.

I’ll point out why I humbly agree with your colleagues and please don’t take my use of the word “snob” personally – it’s a quick way of describing a non-follower:

First of all, retail B2C buyers of things like pool supplies may not expect company managers like yourself to follow them back but professionals who consider dealing with other professionals doing B2B marketing will generally not expect an “unequal social media relationship”.

It’s been my observation that the more Twitter competent followers with professional, social media savvy feeds, will unfollow if they follow first and are not followed back while they will continue to follow if they are followed back.

That is standard Twitter operating procedure at least for those who are social media savvy.

Following a snob brings no value to the follower because nobody actually reads their main feed and you don’t have to follow a snob to read them as part of a list.

I retweet snobs all the time. It doesn’t mean I’d ever officially follow them.

Social media savvy people aren’t going to follow Coca Cola if it doesn’t follow back anymore than they will continue to follow Brittany Spears if she doesn’t follow back.

If they are particularly interested in what Coca Cola has to say today, they will go to the Coca Cola feed specifically and without following.

If they do follow someone, they might not expect @BillGates to follow them back, but they won’t be impressed if anyone else doesn’t. And I’ve found no reason to follow Bill Gates since I’ll check his feed every few months specifically.

If I want to read a particular feed, I will check that every few days or months without following.

People are even less impressed when they are followed and then unfollowed, especially if it seems that the unfollower did so to look more popular and not because there was anything boring about the account they unfollowed.

I’m technically wired enough that I will get a weekly notice of all the people who were following but unfollowed and, if I see I lost an important business professional because I apparently hadn’t noticed him or her and failed to follow back, then I always go ahead and follow them and, lo and behold, they see this and they follow me back again.

This is human nature, at least among those on Twitter who are paying attention.

So, if I tried a policy of not following back, I’d be shooting myself in the foot by losing the most interesting potential business partners (and potential retweeters) some of whom would remember the slight, if only in the back of their mind.

I’ve always had a policy of not following anyone back who looks like a spammer or who looks so unprofessional that they wouldn’t even notice our not following them back. Most of the spammers unfollow after a few days anyway.

Yesterday I noticed that I could not follow an SEO agency that had just followed @WebCEO. Following the Twitter policy of many successful companies on the matter who insist that it does insult people when their views are considered unimportant (we retweet others a lot so we are consciously dissing those we don’t follow back), there was no way I, representing a corporation with a popular product, would insult an agency/customer by not following them back.

But I had reached a limit yesterday.

We were following 4530 people and had only about 4200 followers.

We were following more than were following back because of proactive contacting & marketing that works. Most companies still need salespeople who make first contact with others. More than 50% of IT professionals will follow us back and it does pay to “follow first” while we also get plenty of people following us first whom we will follow back within a week.

And this type of organic growth of a Twitter account apparently does matter to search engines as I quasi established by noting our #1 Bing position for online SEO tools.

Anyway, to eliminate the limit Twitter had placed on us and follow back someone who had followed us first, I went to and noticed more than 600 people who were not following back, most of whom seemed to be Twitter incompetent (those who seem to have never checked their follower lists) but many of whom were clearly tricksters with uninteresting salesy feeds who follow, wait for the follow back and then unfollow in order to look more “popular”.

Because every trickster has heard the theory that tricking people into following and then unfollowing will supposedly give you more weight with search engines, this activity is rampant and it tends to turn Twitter into Schizophrenia Central.

So I unfollowed all 600 including some interesting people, retweeting some interesting snobs as a parting shot of goodwill (a alot of people with high follower ratios have boring feeds).

I just couldn’t afford to keep following them because of the Twitter limit.

I also decided that my best potential business partners would be among the 4200 followers, many of whom think like I do about equality in social networking.

There are easily 10,000 Twitterers out there who feel they are so interesting that they don’t have to follow people back who aren’t “important enough”.

Even if I agreed that these people were more interesting than I am, enough for me to follow them while they ignored me, the Twitter limit rules would say that I couldn’t even follow 2000 of this type of person without being blocked by Twitter from following the other 8000 of that type.

A masochist who wants to feel small could not use Twitter to be ignored by more than 2000 snobs at a time. =)

And I’m not being sarcastic here. It just can’t be done. Any interesting Twitterer with a growing following, cannot afford to follow more than a few dozen of the type of person who refuses to follow back.

And, if you extrapolate, this means those who follow the ones who refuse to follow back will not generally be those who feel they are just as interesting or who are growing big follower bases of their own (snobs mostly refuse to follow each other unless they are part of a clique). A lot of people who know how to use Twitter will quickly unfollow most of those who refuse to follow back.

I’d worry about keeping only the sheep if I did a mass unfollow. And while some non-followers follow each other, most refuse to follow each other.

Now I’d like to see Google and Bing finally admit whether or not we should all unfollow each other or not.

We are now following 4100 mostly real people whom we retweet sometimes, while we have 4200 followers (300 whom we were not following back). There are 200 whom we follow but who are not following us back. I added some new people to replace many of the 600 people I unfollowed. Lots of those, including new potential SEO agency customers, followed back right away.

5% of the people we follow are snobs who don’t follow back.

So we are not necessarily anti-snob.

But good luck to anyone who thinks they are important enough to join that 5%. =)

None of those 200 come across as the type of person who would deliberately not follow back in order to look popular. Those get the boot automatically although we might give them a Goodwill Retweet. =)

If we jettisoned 4000 followers all at once so we’d look like we’re following 400 with 4200 following us…I know for sure that we’d lose real customers in real life.

That’s human nature.

In fact, customers have told us that they dumped one of our two major online SEO tool competitors because they felt they weren’t being paid attention to.0

And, sure, we might win a few who would be awed by the snobbishness of our having dissed them. =)

This is all because we are in a B2B environment as opposed to a B2C environment.

Bottom Line: I would recommend ignoring the theory that the search engines will give a website more weight if a Twitter account pointing to it has a high follower ratio.

That is, hopefully, just another false social media metric like the others in the article.

It goes without saying, therefore, that I completely disagree with the reasoning that it’s wrong (or even hurts you in the search engines) if you slowly build a network of mutually following business contacts on Twitter or elsewhere.

And, if Bing confirms tomorrow that they give more weight to companies that jettison their customer followers to look more important than their customers, we’d still refuse to send a message to our B2B customers that we won’t be wanting their tweets in our unfiltered feed anymore.

Now if anyone wants to argue all this, I promise not to call you a snob in the process. =)

If it works for you to not follow potential business partners and customers back, more power to you.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Allen, I was blown away with the quality and thoughtfulness of this comment. Seriously, thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts out there and you’ve made some truly excellent points–and done a service to all the readers here at TSL.

And for the record, I’d love for Matt Cutts to give a much better answer on your question as well. :-)



Allen MacCannell May 31, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Sorry for the book above.

An important point I failed to mention in all that, is that I strongly believe that Microsoft Bing is examining the quality of everyone’s Twitter followers using any number of tools that already do that and which can keep an index.

The algorithm could go this way:

If our 4200 followers have a higher number (or percentage) of SEO agency professionals than the 4200 followers of a “snob” who only follows 42 people, I believe we’re being given more weight by Bing.

And since we’re #1 for one of the most important keywords in our industry, “online SEO tools,” I’d say that my conclusions on this should carry some weight with your readers.

Also, when I said we are following 200 people now who don’t follow us back, I forgot to mention that about 150 of those would be people we only recently followed.


Ava Sturgeon May 31, 2012 at 12:44 pm

As a longtime English teacher with an aversion to math, you had me at “numbers don’t mean squat.” I’m a newbie in this social marketing maelstrom, so thanks for both informing and dispelling. You’ve helped me gain much-needed perspective, remembering the bottom line. And for my venture, the bottom line is stronger than ever. ~Ava Sturgeon


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Thrilled to help Ava, and so glad we speak the some language ;-)

Come back again,



paul wolfe May 31, 2012 at 12:57 pm


Been a while. But I’ve dropped by a few times….got a couple of thoughts.

People like to use ‘metrics’ and numbers as a form of faux proof. I’ve seen guys with YouTube courses to sell saying stuff like: XYZ used our methods and got 20,000 views on a video in just a week.

Well, who cares? The only metric that matters – as you say, and plenty of commenters have seconded – is how many people go to your website and subscribe. Getting hundreds of thousands of views on YoUTube will mean squat – and unless you know how to make videos that attract your potential audience AND know how to direct those folk from yOUTube back to your website….it will continue to mean squat.

You always gotta remember the end goal. The end goal is not to get Youtube views (or Facebook likes…or Twitter followers…or whatever). The end goal is to increase the profatability of your business.

The other thing I wanna talk about is video testimonials. Testimonials are an important part of the sales process….and yep, there are people creating ‘fake’ testimonials. I’m sure the FTC will get interested in this…but there are ways to create Video Testimonials that are genuine, that your target audience will have no doubts are genuine, and do the job that testimonials are supposed to do in the sales process.

So I’d advise anyone reading NOT to be put off from doing video testimonials…just make sure you do them right!

Hope you’re well bro.



Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Paul, what’s up brother? So great to see you my friend. :-)

I agree vid testimonials can be amazing. Heck, I’ve got tons. It just depresses me to see how they’ve been so terribly watered down because of the fakers out there.

Thanks for your stellar perspective my friend, as always.



John Paul May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I agree 1000% Marcus on all levels.

My biggest pet peeve is watching people spend money on products or services from people that have no success in what they are selling.

Now looking at the WRONG numbers to prove someone knows what they are talking about is a close second haha

Social proof/numbers have become less and less important since there are so many tools and service that let you game the system. From sites like Triberr and Fiverr, you can fake the funk all over the place and no one knows the better.

All these numbers mean crap if you are not making more money from all the activity… comments and social shares don’t pay my bills.

I learned a long time ago that numbers/ shares/ comments are nice, but they have no direct impact on your income. Some of the biggest bloggers online barely get comments or shares yet they are killing it monthly in income.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

“Fake the funk”—That gave me a good laugh JP.

You’re right on brother, right on.




katina May 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Marcus, sorry for the mistake! Was thinking of a Michael and, after the M, I continued with his name.
Again, thanks for the great advise!


katina May 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm

So new at this, unfortunately I have nothing to offer. However Marcus, your thoughts on the subject of social media are very useful to me, making me focus on the reason for using them and how to do it with this purpose in mind. Thank you, once more!


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Love comments like this one Katina. Thrilled it helped and hope you continue to grow, learn, and progress :-)




Duke Dillard May 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Good thoughts, puts a lot in perspective and helped me crystallize some of my thoughts on these things – thank you- probably a failure though because I’m not buying anything from you


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Hahahaha Duke :-) Actually, it wasn’t a failure at all, believe it or not, my goals aren’t always about $, I just realize the necessity of profit to stay and thrive in business.

Come back again,



Jens P. Berget May 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hey Marcus,

I’m not sure if there are any other metrics that should be added to your list. Well, at least not that I know of. The thing is, that most social metrics tells us that every single person who visits your site is more or less identical (1 comment, 1 retweet, 1 like etc…), but we know that in business there are no such thing as a person equals another person. I haven’t found a metric that adds the human part / relationships / business, some are better than others, but we should only use them to see if we’re improving or not. I never use anything to compare myself to other people or businesses.

Great post and very interesting discussion.


Christina Pappas May 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I like to think and hope I have some balance because I do know my Klout score (I actually was looking at it not too long ago) and I do look at site traffic and analyze trends. But…I connect them to something. The trick is you cannot just stop there. You have to keep going with the number till you whittle it all the way down to the bottom of your funnel (which doesnt need to be sales – just what your end goal is). I think it’s ok to look at fans and likes, if you can keep going with it. What does 3000 fans give you? How many make it to the funnel? How many spit out at the bottom? This is the only way this number can be used and spoken about intelligently. Otherwise, you sound very silly!

Good stuff Marcus! Thanks!


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Love your focus on the bottom of the funnel Christina, that’s a GREAT way to put it and it’s obvious you’ve got a solid “balance” when it comes to understanding the “why” to each of these metrics.




40deuce May 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thanks for writing this Marcus! These are some things that I try to tell people I work with all the time. I just shared this on Twitter so I could tell them all at the same time.

Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Sheldon, how have you been man, great seeing you, and keep up the great work on your end. I know you “get it”!




donna May 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Thank God. Literally. Finally someone who has blogged what we all are thinking (in easy to read, well thought out, language). Numbers mean nothing without sales. Say it again :) Numbers mean nothing without sales. ESP true for bands! Numbers mean nothing without sales (cd’s, merch, concert tickets) or without results of fans bringing in their friends and their friends (which translates into sales). Wonder what’s going to happen to all the fly by night social media marketing gurus and mavens when people start to ‘get this’.. and I think that’s going to happen this year.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Well Donna, it appears you and I were cut from the same cloth, excellent!!

Love your passion and keep fighting the good fight :-)



Stephen Pate May 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I like daily story reads and the monthly numbers to see if readers like what I write. Mostly the feel good about each story metric works. Stories stick around a long time and readers like the weirdest stuff so that’s what I write. Figures can lie and liars can figure.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm

The main thing is that you’re happy with your progress and direction Stephen. And if that’s the case, keep rockin your blog brother. :-)



Keith May 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Marcus, as always thought provoking and interesting. Just a few thoughts:

Not everything will lead to direct sales. Some things are just part of an overall marketing plan. Believe it or not Pinterest is a great tool if your product is visual, targets women, involves fashion of any kind, etc…. Also, FB, Twitter, Plus, etc… All do help with social proof and influence which is becoming more important in SERP’s.

Anyway, I do agree with most everything you said, and I would take from this article that one should be careful how much weight we put on some of this stuff….


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Hey Keith, good seeing you man. I don’t disagree with what you’re saying at all. For me, this article wasn’t so much about any of these platforms being “bad”, but rather about what we, as marketers and business owners, really care about when it’s all said and done.

I just want everyone to remember the bottom line is the bottom line. ;-)



donna June 1, 2012 at 12:43 am

Forgot to say .. if anyone really thinks Klout is accurate or matters – try this.. tweet some keywords to attract spam (words like #iphone #spam #marketing #real estate #porn and the like). Do that a few times over a few days and let the spam followers stack up till you have about 20. Look at your Klout score. Then.. block and report them all for spam in one go. Then wait a bit and go look at your Klout score now!


Andrea T.H.W. June 1, 2012 at 1:38 am

If search engines didn’t give all that importance to numbers probably no one would. Numbers are important at least for our ego and because they do give an idea about how well we’re doing up to a certain point but at the end they’re just numbers and they can be managed or faked. My teacher of Statistics always said that given a survey you can get any result you want out of it depending on what you’re looking for; just like elections, at least here in Italy, where everyone wins all the times. Politicians!

It’s like mobile traffic, the next goldmine, only that mobile traffic can’t be monetized because mobile surfers aren’t at all interested in buying stuff or clicking on ads but next year all the web will swear on its importance for business while it will be very marginal.

And yes Danny has a thing or two to say about Klout and Google+. And as regards the latter that’s a great example of fake numbers, no one is there but Google swear that everyone use it. Well, it’s Google and we all know how they work there right? :)


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

But that’s my question Andrea. Why is our ego so driven by all these metrics that really don’t mean squat as to our bottom line? You know? It’s just odd to me.

Great seeing you bud, as always,



Andrea T.H.W. June 5, 2012 at 2:49 am

Thanks. :)

Ego is 90 percent of time our biggest issue related to our life being made up half of what we think we are and half by what we want others to think we are. By this definition Ego has very little to do with reality and a lot with perception: how we perceive ourselves and how we want to be perceived by others.

These metrics either reinforce our opinion or not about what we think we are. In reality someone can write the best content available online and never be found just because, as an example, Google doesn’t like the way it’s written so before thinking about numbers we should check if those numbers reflect reality or not.

So as a rule of thumb Ego should be always kept under control as it causes more problems than it solves. Unfortunately many people do love their Ego especially those who think they do everything better than others like those G-Guys. :)


High Dividend Stocks June 1, 2012 at 3:40 am

Hi Marcus Sheridan
I agree with you, looking at other’s income doesn’t make me a single cent. But it might be a good motivation and inspiration! No matter true income statements or not, I still like to see yours.
Nice post


Zaid June 1, 2012 at 6:12 am


Very interesting article, but I must say that I am not that influenced by article/someone that complains about some (many) services that have been used for years (for some) and proved some great advantages for some businesses (individuals) .. just for the sake of it, without at least givin a better alternative(s)!!

Yes they might not be great tools, but social networks for example have proven some traffic improvements to me and many others. And having a tool that able to compare some of the traffic between websites is a cool thing, as we are not able to see Google Analytics of each one.

Anyways, I am with you with the point of focusing on your business and do your best without worryin much about numbers … but these websites you mentioned do really help :)


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hi Zaid, and thanks for the comment.

Actually, I’ve given an “alternative” measurement in almost every example– leads and sales generated.

My argument is that is the ultimate metric, and businesses must not forget this.



shirley June 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I think this “sector” is still very much in its infancy. We are witnessing the early evolution of collaborative media. Very exciting times indeed. And because it is “visual” and potentially “trackable” many are coming up with creative ways to “measure”. The reality is > the social environment is amorphous with lots of grey. Especially when it comes to human behaviour. Measures are good once you keep the context real too and recognize you cannot be absolute about something that is so amorphous in nature. It does works.

I personally don’t believe any of the above are “exceptionally good” and not necessarily bad once you are not so absolute or black/white about it. They are “indicators” to help perhaps identify a trend. I think we get so hung up with ever fraction and change that it looses its value. Why are we sweating it when the whole social environment is still an “enfant”. I look at these indicators like I would a compass that does not have any labels. Provides some sense of direction.

I also want to know how my potential customers might be measuring me. So I sign up for those. I want totally visibility of what those indicators are so I can speak to them and add context versus an “I don’t know answer”. My nature I guess, I like to know exactly what I could be dealing with so I am better equipped to address it- should I need to.

I guess what I am trying to say, lets not get so hung up about these indicators. The suppliers say little about them. We do. Within a year, there will be so much change, all these indicators will change a few times. Ride it and focus on what is important- your community and potential customers


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

What a well-balanced point of view Shirley. Yes, they’re indicators–and that’s really it.

To broad perspectives :-)



shirley June 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

ooops the last sentence of the first paragraphshould have read ” it does not work” .


Mitch Mitchell June 3, 2012 at 1:46 am

I can’t disagree with this overall, and I’m totally with you on the bottom 9. I’m not going to say that I totally believe Alexa’s figures, but I will say that Alexa will give you some kind of idea as to what’s going on. For instance, when my blog suddenly started moving up from around 80,000 to over 100,000 in a couple of weeks it told me that something was going wrong with my traffic. And it was true. So, it’s at least an indicator that stuff might not be going well, or is starting to go well at least.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Hey Mitch, I’m disappointed my man, you’re starting to agree with me too much these days ;-)

I will agree that Alexa is certainly an indicator– yes– sometimes good, sometime bad. And I’m really not saying it’s worthless, just that we shouldn’t be living and dying by it, nor comparing ourselves all day long with our competitors either.

Have a great week my friend,



Mitch Mitchell June 5, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Well, I didn’t “totally” agree. lol ;-P


Ryan Hanley June 4, 2012 at 10:55 am




This what small business needs to hear… What’s the ROI of social media. THE FREAKING SALES YOU MAKE. That’s it.

And one of the most important lessons for small business is #4. My Insurance Agency’s website is the same way as River Pools with shares and likes… 2 likes here… 3 shares there… Who cares.

But what’s important is that I get calls every single day from people looking for a new insurance agent.

I’m a baseball Fan… So let’s put this in terms of Baseball.

Counting Likes and Shares as ROI for your social media presence is equal to counting Plate Appearances are ROI for a new player contract.

Who cares how many times he came to bat. Tell me how many runs he drove in.

As always… You’re the man.

Ryan H.


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Dude, absolutely loving the analogy. And that’s the thing Ryan– you come from running a business and needing to make sales, thus I feel like you have the “true” perspective on this, not some idealistic “Social media is a engagement and engagement is everything” junk like that.

You rock brother,



Anton June 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Absolutely agree with you, especially with these Klout and StumbleUpon tools. Never seen more useless stuff that that!


Ambient_Guy June 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I like Pinterest. Its product orientated, I can add my products up and put them into categories targetted to my customers. I can QR code the illustrations, I can add wording such as propositions and comments to the image.. I can link it back to my website…

Volumes may go higher or lower.. just like any social network focused hang out..

What isnt there to like about Pinterest?


Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

It’s not about “liking”, as I do like Pinterest and think it’s a wonderful platform. But we hear tons about how much traffic Pinterest is driving to sites but we are not hearing about leads and sales Pinterest is driving to sites…My point is really about how we define success and efficacy of a platform. Make sense?

Thanks for stopping by,



Ambient_Guy June 5, 2012 at 2:39 am

Surely as long as you set your URL correctly we can all track the incoming traffic. I guess right now, early on, there’s a lot of early adopters so that’s the market that pinterest offers.. Later on a wider spectrum of markets will get involved.


Steve Baumann June 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

What about other measurements, like Links? Open Site Explorer keeps track of Links to our WEB site. The number of links keeps growing and I don’t know why, or if this measurement is even important.


Mark Evans June 5, 2012 at 7:43 am

I’m definitely with you about Alexa. It’s always a surprise when a Website cites Alexa as a key metric given it is a flawed approach to measuring Website traffic.


Vinod Kamath June 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Totally agree with a lot of these metrics. Most people get caught up in their “scores” and how they rank, completely forgetting that it’s the depth of the connections you make that truly create results. Someone with 100k+ followers may not be able to call their followers to action compared to someone with only 100+, who actually knows who is following and has relationships with them.


Marcus Sheridan June 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Well said Vinod, well said.

And thanks so much for dropping by. :-)



Melanie Burger June 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

I just read an article by HubSpot in which they found that Pinterest actually has a 15% conversion rate. Phenomenally higher than the inbound marketing average of between 1-3%.


Marcus Sheridan June 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Can you put the link in for that Melanie, I’d love to read that article, as it sounds grossly high, and I’d like to know how HS came up with those numbers.


Tony Taylor June 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

We are in a numbers based society. People base success on numbers, so metrics seem to be important to many. I do not get caught up in the scores, but I do check them.


Ben Dabrowski June 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

The share metric is valuable as a metric of how much it’s shared. Unfortunate people would assume shared and read to be synonymous, however I would consider those authentic shares as noteworthy, by virtue of what they require.


Marcus Sheridan June 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Yes, Ben, they’re noteworthy when it comes to social subjects…but none social subjects don’t therefore demonstrate success via social, and we can’t forget that.

Thanks for stopping by,



pixelsmarketer June 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

Digital marketing is a must, but I’m NOT 100% sold on Social Media Marketing, perhaps I have something in common with GM’s CEO.

Word of mouth advertising is priceless and while you can use Facebook and other social media to tell all your friends about that new _______?_______ you purchased it will not matter if the business your bragging on can’t supply product to outside markets; ie: other cities, states, countries. You may love your lawn service provider but chances are he’s not driving 60 miles to mow your sisters lawn.

I think GM realized that when people are on FB theY are there to socialize not SHOP which leads us back to the VALUE of great content. I’ll ask you this:
“is it easier to sell a product to someone searching for a solution (read as something they already have a desire or want for) or easier to grab somones attention and hopefully spark interest in your product?” I’ll take doing biz with folks searching for my solution everytime-there 50% SOLD going in!


April Greer June 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm


Thanks for this post! I’m an independent graphic/web designer, and I’ve got to share this with you:

I went on vacation mid-May for 2 weeks. Before that I was stressing – my LinkedIn, Klout, Behance “numbers” were all going to drop. What was I going to do? All that hard work to keep them up would be lost. Would anyone return when I got back on that horse?

When I got home from a fabulous cruise through the Panama Canal where internet was $.50/minute for “cheap” internet (read did not use much), I realized I really didn’t care what my “numbers” were. So what if my LinkedIn views were only 5 people in the last week rather than 15? So what if my Klout score dwindled? How many clients had I actually gotten because of my “numbers?” ZERO.

My clients come from conversations with people (online or in-person), referrals, and occasionally from my portfolio. Not numbers. From this epiphany, I’ve cut out about 20 social media emails PER DAY, most of which I glanced at and trashed. I’ve literally saved myself 10 hours in two weeks of mindless number-pumping.

And you know what? I got a new project, I have a new plan to market directly to potential clients for free, my website has gotten more attention, and I’m SO MUCH HAPPIER.

So thanks for re-affirming the new number-less me. Sales per contact is my most important number, and all the rest are e-Penises to measure with everyone else’s.


Marcus Sheridan June 15, 2012 at 11:40 am

AWESOME comments April!!! YeeeHawww! Seriously, I smiled the whole time reading this and your new path I’m sure will be way more fulfilling and enjoyable.




Nickie Y. June 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

“Likes, Tweets, Shares” – I am with you on this one and know from personal experience as well. I myself come across great articles that I don’t always “like, tweet or share” in any way, but I do return to the site for more reading which to me is more valuable.


mobile phone simulator June 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm

It’s always a surprise when a Website cites Alexa as a key metric given it is a flawed approach to measuring Website traffic.


Leah Cron August 1, 2012 at 2:13 am

Thanks for this information Marcus. You explain it very well and I learned a lot what makes these social media gross.


Fahrenheit Marketing October 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I wish every one of our potential clients could read this post. We have advocated examining the ROI of online advertising for quite a while. The amount of billable hours being wasted by social media “professionals” is astounding.


appliance testing October 8, 2012 at 7:03 am

Numbers. You want them. I want them. We all want them. But there is a big problem with all these social media numbers that are soooo important to the success of your business—many don’t mean squat.


Georgetown Mortgage Bank October 24, 2012 at 9:17 am

Interesting that you say leads are the end-all. I am currently negotiating with my employer that referrals and leads are the best barometer to judge the success (or not) of a social media campaign.


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Gavin Hudson February 6, 2013 at 11:07 am


1. Alexa: Still a good indicator, but (like Google rank) don’t lose your head over it. Focus on content and linkbacks. Rank and score will follow.
2. Klout: agree
3. Twitter followers: disagree. It matters who follows you, as much as how many, but it doesn’t hurt anything other than your pride to be following a lot of people back. Some of the most influential Twitter users follow hundreds of thousands of people back.
4. social shares: red herring. His example of a single blog post with lots of traffic and few social shares isn’t very illuminating. Social shares on networking sites drive traffic from people likely to be in the same industry as the one who shared the post with them. Simple. Sure, it’s possible to get traffic withour Facebook and Twitter (ex. StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google search, etc.). So…?
5. Fans. True, they don’t necessarily mean profit; it means brand reach / marketing reach. Conversions are better than fans. #CaptainObvious But you’re more likely to see conversions with 100k fans on Facebook driving traffic to product pages than with 500. The question is how much time and effort are you willing to invest, and does that pay off in conversions.
6. Comments. Depends on the goal. Internal comms might find value in comments, and marketers should be aware of comments in forums about their products representing customers complaining or asking technical questions.
7. Fake testimonials. Yep, these are a problem, not just in videos. But not a metric, as he says.
8. Pinterest: agree that any social media marketing effort should be worth your time. Traffic to conversion ratios with Pinterest probably vary hugely by industry.
9. SU: same question of traffic vs. conversions.
10. Viral videos: same as Pinterest and SU. Great for brand building. Sales conversions are a different goal.


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