Stop Preaching Social Networks to Businesses

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There are quite a few people I respect regionally and nationally in the Social Media spotlight – but I truly believe they are steering some businesses in the wrong direction by advising them to invest solely in the social network.

As you folks know, I'm active across a ton of social networks, social media websites and social applications. I have quite a good following on the networks I belong to. The question is how well my blog has done thanks to those social networks. After all, these are most trusted friends – my network! They should account for huge volumes of traffic, right?


Traffic Sources to Martech Zone

Let's look at the last 143,579 referred visitors to my blog:

  1. Google: 117,607 unique visitors
  2. StumbleUpon: 16,840 unique visitors
  3. Yahoo!: 4,236 unique visitors
  4. Twitter: 2,229 unique visitors
  5. Live: 605 unique visitors
  6. MSN: 559 unique visitors
  7. Ask: 476 unique visitors
  8. AOL: 446 unique visitors
  9. Facebook: 275 unique visitors
  10. LinkedIn: 93 unique visitors
  11. Baidu: 79 unique visitors
  12. Altavista: 54 unique visitors
  13. Plaxo: 41 unique visitors
  14. Netscape: 39 unique visitors

If I were to listen to all the Smippies, I'd spend all day updating Facebook and LinkedIn to try to make a buck. I don't.

I automate posts and updates to those social networks, but I don't spend time working them. There are a couple of reasons:

  • They are already my trusted network. I don't need to push or sell to them – they are already there for me.
  • Their intent in connecting with me through these social mediums is not to buy from me, nor do they expect me to sell to them. In other words, I'm not going to abuse the relationship I have with these folks.

I'll continue to try to build new relationships where it makes sense – through search engines. I know there are people searching for the answers I provide in this blog so I'm going to concentrate on growing my following by answering those questions. It's permission-based, it's HUGE (in comparison to the 0.2% traffic from my network), and their intent is to look for the answers I am providing.

Does this mean that you do what I do?

NO! I'm not advising you to ignore social networks nor the folks who push for you to use them. What I am advising is that you measure the results of your efforts and adjust your strategies accordingly. Too many Smippies are out there evangelizing the benefits of Social Networks without the expertise to help you measure the results and prioritize your strategies accordingly.

Challenge these consultants to prove the monetary benefits! I told some non-profit experts at Leadership Ventures today the truth – as a business, I measure engagement by dollar signs. If I'm marketing well, I'm increasing my sales acquisition dollars, growing my upsell dollars, and maintaining my retention dollars.


  1. 1

    I think you have a massive point there, given the oceanic gap between the search engines and the others. However it might be interesting if one could find out conversion ratios of each segment as well, just to check on the merely impulsive visitors belonging to each medium.

  2. 3

    AMEN!! I absolutely agree. While not taking anything away from social media, you have to have a grasp of where your traffic comes from naturally! Even when you DO get traffic from certain social media sites (i.e. Stumbleupon), you MUST measure the VALUE and INTENT of those visitors.

    Although… I’d also put blogs in the same category…

    • 4


      I agree with you 100%! Blogging is included and MUST have a return on investment if it’s going to be used as a plausible means of generating conversions. Too many Smippies are out there selling blogging as the Holy Grail, but not teaching companies how to strategically deploy a blog and measure the results.

      Search is such a great medium because intent is written directly in that little “search box” – whether it’s PPC or organic!


  3. 5

    Even within the social sites you can do this. We’ve been posting news and info to several sites and twitter is bringing us the best quality traffic. It’s second in overall numbers, but the time spent and the pages viewed are far and away the best.

    So within that subset, we’re focusing on making sure twitter is part of our outreach.

  4. 7

    I’m in PR and we’re definitely doing a lot of SM counseling/preaching these days. But I am always careful to remind clients that these new initiatives have to be part of a fully integrated solution. A lot of our clients just need help mapping the digital landscape and translating good content onto the social networks. But eventually it has to come back to dollars and demonstrating value. And you underline a critical point that Google is your “homepage” and you have to take care of that source first and foremost. Thanks. (p.s. I linked-in through Twitter, heh)

    • 8

      Hi Caroline,

      That’s awesome! Glad to see you here through Twitter – I get up to 8% of my traffic on days from Twitter so I do value it. I just get 50% + from Search so I pay a little more attention there! 🙂 I automate my feed to Twitter from Twitterfeed so that it doesn’t require any effort involved!


  5. 9

    Great post Doug. You hit on (in our opinion) the most sensitive spot of marketing – MEASUREMENT. A lot of people and businesses fail in his regard and do not make educated decisions or adjustments to their marketing plan/activities. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great communication device, but you must objectively evaluate how much effort to invest in it versus other mediums.

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