Social Media & Business: Don’t believe the hype

March 21, 2013 - Get free updates of new posts here
39 Flares 39 Flares ×

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?



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?


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Your email address will not be published.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 *

23 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:

    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 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,

  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 ?

  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.


  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 :)