Social Media & Business: Don’t believe the hype

March 21, 2013 - Get free updates of new posts here

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read about why you should allocate money & time to social media. There are countless articles and posts about “conversion optimization tips”. (In fact, check out how AppSumo improved conversion rates.)

Tweet More. Engagement. More Likes. Gimme.

But do they actually make a difference?!?

That’s the question that most people forget to ask.

So, I put out a tweet about my How to Make your First Dollar Course to find out for myself.

Out of 13,090 followers how many would you expect to click after I tweeted?

1,000?

500?

More like 109 clicks, a 0.8% CTR. WTF Twitter?!? Compare my Twitter conversion rate to my email conversion.

Either most of my followers are bots or something funky is going on.

How many times have you heard someone say “you have to be on YouTube” or brag about how many Facebook fans they have?

It’s distracting with case studies making it appear that social media is the new holy grail.

The real secret is that there is no same way that will work for marketing in all businesses.

So I was curious how many clicks I got via email from my 3,547 subscribers.

882 clicks!!! Holy shit

First off I love you.

Secondly, that’s a 24.8% CTR and 8x improvement over Twitter.

Bottom-line: I’m not saying you must go use email over Twitter but I wanted to plant the seed for you to focus on effectiveness vs hype…

When’s the last time you were surprised?

-Noah

P.S. It is interesting that when I asked my Twitter followers to join my email list I had a huge response. As we learned above email has a better click-through-rate so it’s worth asking your Twitter followers and Facebook fans on a regular basis to join your email list. It’s one of the best ways to get more subscribers.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


53 responses to “Social Media & Business: Don’t believe the hype

  1. Greg Watson Reply

    Not sure if my thought qualifies as amazing, but I have wondered the same thing. IE which, if any of the social media platforms, makes the most sense to participate in, if any. (depending upon your business)

    And as you pointed out on the call the other day, (good fun BTW) “Begin with the end in mind”. What is my goal with the platform?

    To get a bunch of followers, move some product or connect with friends?

    Thanks for the reminder Noah! Cheers, G

  2. Susan Jones Reply

    Noah, I had a similar experience last week. I was testing an idea for an online course.

    From my (admittedly small) subscriber list of 300 people I had lots of clicks and 4 purchases of a $97 product. From my 12,000+ followers on Twitter I had probably more clicks overall but no purchases.

    The big surprise though was FB ads. I had around 500 people click on the ad and come through to my site but no purchases at all. Now my marketing might have been really sucky (although it obviously worked for my subscribers) but the FB result made me really wonder about their ads. Especially when in the first day the vast majority of visitors were from Pakistan which is not an audience I usually reach.

    So my takeaways were:
    1. Above all else, GROW YOUR LIST. Email marketing trumps every time.
    2. Use Twitter to engage people and help them – and to try to get them to sign up to your newsletter! I use it to rebroadcast my older posts and about 40% of the traffic to my site comes from Twitter.
    3. Facebook is a waste of time and money for me and I don’t like not really knowing what they are doing with my ads.

    BTW, if you compare your CTR from Twitter and Email in your example Noah, email actually gave you a result better then 24x Twitter! Go with email I say!

  3. Joel Reply

    Email means they see the message at their convenience (ie when they decide theyll take the time to check their inbox). That can’t be said about any social network.

  4. Maria Reply

    Hi Noah, thank you for sharing your experience about how ineffective social media is.

    In the book “Your first 1000 copies” the author shares what happened with one of his author clients: for every one book they were selling through social media, they were selling over 10 through e-mail.

    For most stuff e-mail rules. However, social media is good for quick preliminary market research.

    Say you have a new product idea. You want to research your options a little more. You ask a question on Facebook and people start getting back to you, immediately. A couple of hours later and you already have a better sense about what your market needs.

  5. George Lindner Reply

    It would be interesting to know the overlap in people in your mail list and email list. And the conversion rate of those not in your email list that clicks the twitter link.
    Just saying that I see your email before your twitter msg most times and click the email link and skip the twitter one because I already know what it’s about.
    Interesting read though. Great food for thought!

  6. Paulo Roldan Reply

    Today I purchased tickets to see Peabody and Sherman with my 6 year-old son at one of the many local movie theaters. The preparedness, mental agility and seamless service of the theater’s employee made me feel really comfortable and wanting to comeback more often.

    That’s the las time something really surprised me.

    I am NOT a marketing pro and my comment may be a bit odd compared to what everybody else may post, but you asked and I felt like sharing my experience.

  7. Holly Reply

    Hi Noah! I follow you on Twitter but didn’t click because I already bought the course. Also, I tweeted you about the course and would love an answer to the question I asked. P.S. The validation exercises have made a huge difference, so thank you!

  8. Daria Reply

    Thanks for sharing candidly as always!
    With my previous startup, in fashion, we were similarly pleasantly surprised with email marketing landing us an average of over 35% open rate and 40% CTR, while Facebook was preforming much much worse. Now I’m setting up a newsletter for daPulse in hope of repeating these stats.

  9. Pim Reply

    I was surprised by the results when I tried the methode you explained at the interview with Tim Ferriss for CreativeLive. I pitched an smoothie ebook with 99 recipes to 96 Facebook friends and had a conversion rate from almost 8% in pre-orders!! Thanks so much for showing us ‘the way’ Noah! :)

    I punlished to full case stuy in Dutch on my blog: http://whysheid.nl/onderneming-beginnen-zonder-geld/

    Gr Pim

  10. kat Reply

    I’d just like to say that I can undestand your argument regarding twitter/social and email but there are a few things I’d like to point out:

    1. People that are signed up to recieve your Newsletter already have an element of trust and expect to see your regular email so are more likely to be engaged in the content and click thorugh.

    2. You have a lot more room in an email to make a compelling argument about a product or service than you do in one tweet.

    I would say that social media is one component of a marketing mix, but completely agree that email and other digital media can be equally or more effective, and that it is different for every business. I just don’t think it’s fair to compare one tweet to an email – you should be tweeting, posting on Facebook, etc multiple times a day, whereas your emails are likely to be much less regular.

    Anyway just food for thought :)

    I’d be interested to see the email you sent to compare to your tweet.

  11. Kati Reply

    I do some t-shirt design and selling online. I am constantly surprised at other people’s taste in tees – the designs I think are really nice and should sell, tend not to. The ones I thin are horrid, ugly waste of space seem to sell. I have now resigned and now started designing shirts that I would not wear. Ever.

  12. Gail Gates Reply

    The last time I was pleasantly surprised? When the host of a B & B found out I was unhappy about a meal (My issue not theirs), she called me, profusely apologized, and said the next time we visit (Nice, positive assumption, right?) she’d give us a bottle of her special stash wine. You can’t get much better customer service than that, and I was profoundly happy. Surprised. Happy.

  13. Ralph Reply

    Well, I’m not surprised about Twitter. I get bogged down reading all those fucking tweets. I can’t keep up.

  14. Annya Reply

    I was going to post that I am surprised when I read an article on the internet and there isn’t a tweet this or FB this button on it these days. Then I realised that I don’t have a ‘Tweet this’ button on my own website! Doh!!

  15. Jamie Lake Reply

    I agree. I get better results with email but social media is a great way to find your audience, break the ice and initiate the relationship. At least for my readers. If I were approaching a younger audience after breaking the ice, maybe forums or text messages might be great. I can’t remember the last time I was shocked by social media but I love Appsumo, Seth Godin & Gary Vaynerchuk.

  16. Perry Paolini Reply

    I’d like to think that I’m a fairly logical person, someone who isn’t easily tricked into marketing plans, etc… I hired a marketing firm to runs our google Adwords efforts. I was told I could expect roughly 40 calls per month from spending $1000. I got 7 calls, and swiftly requested my money back. I was fortunate enough to get the money back and attempted AdWords on my own, and was surprised by how little our returns were. We still ended up with a positive ROI, but for us and our industry it seems like AdWords doesn’t like up to it’s hype.

    I just read your retargeting article and I’m looking forward to trying it out!!

    Thanks for all the great info Noah. Can’t thank you enough.

  17. Michael Reply

    Noah, I am surprised right now. See, I am listening to you on Pat Flynn’S Podcast http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/spi-071 while doing some research on business ideas I got just by listeing to it. You really get me going with the stuff you put out. Just wish my learning ability wasn’t that slow.

    Normally I should be depressed right now. I just found out that I will go bankrupt and have about 500k in debt to dig out of. And by depressed I am a real depression with which I dealt the last 2 years. So I am surprised again that I seem to be going though I don’t have any money to spend if actually hit a valid business idea.

    And then I think I will go back to your archive and dig deep until I find the answer.

    Thanks for putting out so much value for free. I surely would be in the monthly1k if only I could afford it. And yes, I cannot spent 60 bucks of extra expenses right now.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Michael

  18. Rex Ellacott Reply

    Interesting story and one that I am telling our clients all the time, different strokes for different folks. Last May we drove a campaign whereby we trained women in Kickboxing, for an event towards charity. Each video got over 800 likes in average, 120,000 people engaged, and roughly 10,000 downloads via youtube, with a sell out to 900 capacity. Biut what works in one part of a city wont work in another. Now in another part, totally the opposite. :)

  19. Neal Taparia Reply

    One of our properties gets more than 40 million unique visitors a year. When we introduced a Facebook like button, likes increased at a significant rate, probably to the tune of 70,000 – 10,000 a year. Over the last year, however, we’ve only received 20,000 more likes despite the larger traffic to our site. Additionally, we’ve noticed that we were getting less engagement with our posts.

    Just as we’ve developed banner blindness to standard ad units, I think the same is happening to likes. We’ve also deemphasized our like button because of the declining engagement we were seeing on Facebook. Facebook needs to answer to shareholders (yea!), so we’re more likely to see more and more sponsored posts.

    An engaged email base in the way to go!

  20. Laurent Reply

    Hi Noah,
    Had the same insight on some of the accounts I’m managing… Strange (and deceiving!).
    Wondering what tool you use for your twitter tracking and stats ?
    Thanks!
    Laurent

  21. Louis Pionessa Reply

    You bring up a lot of good points, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Twitter, for the most part seems like everyone SHOUTING at each other. But if you’re the one person not doing that – you will be successful, because you’re “different”.

    Here’s how you can be different:

    On Twitter especially, it’s not about getting people to click on links that you tweet. That’s usually only a small percentage of traffic.

    The majority comes when you interact and reply to people with helpful or funny things. You don’t tweet a link and hope for high CTR. I think of it more like a really tiny email to one person, that everyone can read.

    Just try to get people to interact with you. Then if they’re interested in what you have to say…. they become curious. Hmmmm… Which means they click the link to your PROFILE and READ YOUR BIO.

    If they read some more stuff and like it – what’s the next obvious step? Clicking on the website link in your Twitter bio. Then they see your website and…. if you’re good at what you do – the rest should be a piece of cake.

    It’s the same on any social networking site. The goal (for me) is not to get people to click links and buy stuff from me. The goal is to get them to like me by helping them out. Then they get curious and…. go to my website.

    Works every time! Maybe…. It’s human nature. I think…

    Let me know if you disagree – and keep up the amazing posts, Noah! You definitely inspire me to keep at it.

    Thanks!
    Louis

  22. Albert Reply

    You know why I love your newsletter? Because you back-up EVERYTHING with real numbers. You don’t just SAY, “oh it’s this and it’s that.” You actually test it and then you let me in on the big secret! Thanks for that :)

  23. Keith James Reply

    Hi Noah,

    I can’t (and won’t) disagree that email has by far greater visibility than social. What if you posted a similar tweet (or recycled the same one) numerous times on Twitter?

    What is great about Twitter is that you can continue to use the same offer repeatedly. If you post 10 times a day and include the same tweet once every 20 posts, you will see much different results.

    Your 14k potential is just that, potential. How many really saw your tweet? No one really knows. Of course when you email your list you get fantastic stats. You know bounce, open rate, when it was opened etc. You don’t know this with social.

    Social is used for growing your list. It’s a great way to gain exposure and send traffic to your site. It is the very top of your sales/marketing funnel. By the time someone is on your list, they are usually at least a third of the way through your funnel.

    Either way, your blog is one of my favorite resources. Even posts that are over a year old are valuable.

  24. Carsten Ulendorf Reply

    Hi Noah,
    The net is so Big and the opporunities so many, that most of us tend to listen to the ‘Big guys’ in the business. And that’s a good way to start. After a while however, the posts of others should be reduced to mere inspiration, and you should begin to set up a frame for your own business.
    Not all the Big guys are gurus, and only few businesses are the same.

  25. Caren Glasser Reply

    This is great information. Thank you for sharing. I have said for a while that there is no one thing that will work for marketing in all businesses. I believe social media has it’s place as an additional way to create relationships with your network. But for most it’s a lot of noise. Thanks for the reminder!

  26. Ian Robinson Reply

    Twitter and e-mail comparisons are apples and oranges though, right? I mean, we have to expect that almost all tweets go no where unless you directly engage with someone or a specific topic (via @tags or #tags.)

    E-mail is a different beast. It’s not crazy to expect a response to an e-mail. When tweeting to others, you’d be silly to expect a response. E-mail a much more controlled, thoughtful space. Twitter is noise making like speaking loudly to a crowd and another.

    Great post Noah. It’s quality the way you do simple tests that describe things so clearly with data.

    With appreciation,

  27. Matt Cumming Reply

    Noah! Great post and reminder about making list-building a primary goal — but building a list of quality, engaged followers and to keep giving them value, not just building a list of random people who signed up for one thing but then switched off because your emails were full of sh*t — bad sh*t. I love your sh*t, but it’s great sh*t! Keep it coming man.

  28. laurabrowntexas@gmail.com Reply

    Funny, I remember seeing your post on twitter, and I thought it was a scam or that your account was hacked. I scrolled right on past it.

  29. Jason Reply

    I don’t claim to be a social media expert, but I’ve found one of the biggest keys is to be hashtagging right and using pictures.

    Try using #howto and #business and see what results you get.

  30. carys Reply

    Noah – I love a contrarian, I love the numbers, a great post.
    I continue to tweet -mostly blog links – as it’s low effort: after a couple of years I’ve had an occasional re-tweet that’s got me new contacts in a suprising way, but there’s still a ‘lottery’ feel to it for me.

  31. Adam Connell Reply

    A while back I published a blog post where I told people to sack off the social media widgets. They’re pointless and they need to build their list instead.

    To my amazement, some people didn’t “get it”.

    “social media consultants” mostly didn’t like the idea. I guess that’s to be expected but people need to get a grip.

    You can still be a social media consultant and not have a lame Twitter widget in your sidebar.

    In terms of the channels that generate the best results for me, email is top dog. Sure it’s harder to get people to subscribe in some cases but that just means we gotta get creative.

    Find what gets results and do more of it.

  32. Chad Rucker Reply

    Love your insight and support. Two marketing surprises:

    1. The Newcastle account (Droga5) continues to own Twitter. It’s fresh, smart and disarming. The “disarming” part is unique in the industry. They let the consumer know that they get how intrusive advertising really is. It’s refreshing and smart.
    2. Google recently targeted me with a Hep C campaign. I don’t have Hep C. Which proves that Google has a ways to go. Contrary to popular opinion, they ain’t perfect.

    Keep up the great work,

    Chad

  33. Paul Buijs Reply

    I spent $12000 and over two years to get my facebook “fan base” to 74000 likes. In less than three weeks I doubled that amount for free. Never paying for facebook advertising again. Noah is right. Email is where it is at. Thank you SumoMe for the cool apps!

    Here’s my Facebook secret:
    How to blow your Facebook marketing budget on a wild night in Vegas and still have better results…
    https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140717160814-14606284-how-to-blow-your-facebook-marketing-budget-on-a-wild-night-in-vegas-and-still-have-better-results?trk=prof-post

  34. Jay Tova Reply

    My son just turned 5 & remembered that we ate apples & honey for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) the year before. That’s the 1st time he remembered something that far back. Best surprise ever!

  35. Joe Putnam Reply

    I’m also not a big social media fan and have found very similar results. Example: I ran a campaign where we messaged 135,000 FB fans about a new offer and emailed 10,000. The result? FB generated 100 or so orders while email generated 2500. I’m not even a math guy and I can tell you those results are way better for email than FB. The problem is that most people don’t pay attention to these kinds of numbers and here all kinds of hype around the web from people that aren’t actually running campaigns and getting results.

    With that said, I’ve gotten good results from Facebook newstream ads that outperformed Google ads quite significantly. I’m not anti social media marketing, but I am anti spewing marketing advice (you’ve got to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ or your business will die!!!!!) that’s not based on results.

  36. Dan Linstroth Reply

    I am constantly surprised at how difficult it is to stay focused. My bike, the fridge, music, a random youtube video, Outside Magazine. They all always kill my concentration, yet it still surprises me.

  37. Christen da Costa Reply

    This is good to hear, despite the fact that my email following is terrible. Something I’m confident we can grow, though, with the right approach. That said, Tim Ferris said the same thing, albeit differently, in his second (or 3rd) last podcast.

    Facebook is a blackhole, unless you pay. And even then people aren’t clicking on much there – too much noise. Twitter is just that, noise. Unless you have a billion followers, your message disappears into the Ether. Google+ is interesting, but a complete F*ck up by Google. YouTube has super engaged folks, but getting them to subscribe is like pulling teeth (no one wants to do it until they feel they have to).

    Rant out.

  38. Paul Burt Reply

    In the land of authors and book promotion, I would guess book sales average about one copy per few hours invested in social-turned-promotional media. Authors making more than $1 an hour are doing well. So many options, so little return, such a waste of time. Bring on the commerce media!

  39. Mridu Khullar Relph Reply

    Oh boy. I’m active in the journalism/authorship community and I can’t tell you how many times authors are told to market their books on Twitter. Not only is it highly annoying, but it’s a complete waste of resources. Most of these authors think they’re doing something wrong or that their books suck and give up completely, when the truth is that they’re actually just using an insanely ineffective medium for promotion. Thanks for pointing it out!

  40. Justin Reply

    It’s not really comparing like to like though is it?

    140 characters in a Tweet compared to a highly effective email written to a list.

    Also of your 13,000 followers I suspect that if you only tweeted it once which is what you implied not that many would actually have seen it.

    The other thing about Twitter is that if it get’s engagement and retweeted you are reaching a brand new audience that you would never have received at all.

    It strikes me that the time spent to schedule a couple of tweets is time extremely well spent. 109 clicks depending on whether they converted at all or not is not really that bad a return on a bit of content repurposing.

  41. Corinna Reply

    Today because two of my friends send me CDs with harp music, one classical and the other celtic. It felt like having birthday :)
    For marketing, I start loathing email marketing and have unsubscribed from plenty of lists. Maybe it is do to my resolution to have a silent and calm autumn/winter time. Seems like that does mean silence in my inbox too.