Essential Things Your 'Social Media Expert' Won't Tell You About Growth

Brad Smith Partner, Codeless Interactive, LLC

Posted on August 6th 2012

Essential Things Your 'Social Media Expert' Won't Tell You About Growth

Every "social media expert" will tell you that your business needs to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. etc. etc.

But that's not how you grow or get more traffic. 

For example, diversifying your investments is a sound personal finance theory. It helps you to minimize risk in any one asset class.

But the problem is that you're also minimizing your possible returns. By definition, your diversification is averaging all the returns.

The key to real growth is by investing in less. You want to focus your time, money, and energy in as few things as possible, giving yourself more leverage in those activities.

The ultimate goal of using social media for your business is to grow. You want to bring in new customers, and keep your existing ones around longer. Otherwise, why else do it?

But while "social media experts" may be great at engagement, they don't understand how to grow.

Here are 3 social marketing tips they won't tell you.

The Social Media Guru Cartoon Comic Image courtesy of seanrnicholson


1. Be Lazy

"Social media experts" want you to "go out and engage in the conversation". Connecting one-to-one is great. But it doesn't scale.

Instead, you should be lazy and make people come to you. There are generally three ways you can do that:

  1. Create Content: You can create content for other websites, or speak for different organizations.
  2. Provide Expertise: Assist a nonprofit in your area of expertise, or reach out and help bloggers with an obvious problem you see.
  3. Use Money: Create a marketing asset like a free tool or plugin to give away, or offer to sponsor a promotion so other bloggers will talk about you.

In each case, you're putting yourself in front of communities of people. And you're giving them the chance to come find you.


2. Do Less

There's too much going on in social media today.

Twitter updates are endless, Facebook rolls out new features everyday, and there's a new trend each week that everyone has to know about.

But spreading yourself too thin will give you average results. You need to focus on one or two marketing assets that will appreciate over time, and help you fuel social media.

What am I talking about? Let's use content marketing as an example.

Every aspect of internet marketing begins with content. That Facebook status update? Content. The advertising headline? Content.

This isn't new. Look at Coca-Cola or Proctor and Gamble. They've been doing it for years.

If you want to grow, then get good at creating content (or hire someone to do it). Then contribute articles to top media properties in your industry, or speak in front of organizations (for free!).

You'll get real business leads (first), and build a social media following (second). All with one investment of your time and money. Exactly the way it should be.


3. Ignore Trends

Trends are like waves in the ocean, they come and they go.

Early adopters love them, and journalists jump on the latest hot bandwagon. My favorite trend of the moment? Pinterest. For most businesses, it's a waste of time. Here's why:

  1. Wrong kind of traffic:"Viral" traffic usually has a high bounce rate. This traffic isn't going to buy from you.
  2. Not enough users:Pinterest only has roughly 10 - 15 millions users. But Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+ all over over 90+ million.
  3. Demographic mismatch: The user base is predominately women.

Now for some specific businesses, Pinterest might be great. And of course, it could grow to be a major social network with time.

But for most companies (with limited time, money, and energy), it's not what you should be paying attention to.

A recent study by online market research firm MarketingSherpa reported that over half of companies don't have a way to quantify email marketing. Even though it has an average ROI of 256% — pulling in $2.56 for every $1 invested!

The point is that while your "social media expert" is off chasing the latest trend, they're neglecting basic marketing fundamentals that will actually grow your business.


Brad Smith

Partner, Codeless Interactive, LLC

Brad Smith is a Partner at Codeless Interactive, LLC, which specializes in custom web development and customer acquisition services.

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Posted on August 6th 2012 at 11:22AM

Resourceful document Smith.This tips greatly apply to doctors that use social media in marketing of their services.Doctors need to observe and follow them keenly.


Erick Kinuthia


Posted on August 6th 2012 at 11:46AM

Good post. I really like the emphasis on how important content creation and content marketing are to a social media strategy. However I have to take a wee bit of issue with the "Be Lazy" subhead. Content creation is not a lazy man's sport. One of my longheld career frustrations is how few people understand the amount of thought, time and effort that goes into content strategy and creation. Producing quality content is not for the feint of heart. 

Christine Herbert
Senior Director, Social Media

Posted on August 6th 2012 at 12:38PM

Hi Christine, thanks for your comment. I agree with you - and didn't mean to say content creation is "lazy". It's extremely difficult!   I simply meant that you should focus/invest in things that make other people come find you (so you don't have to go to the effort of reaching out one-on-one).  Thanks again!

Posted on August 6th 2012 at 12:29PM

Excellent article.  There is way too much frenetic frenzy by businesses regarding social media without strategic and tactical focus.  I find that most clients require a mix of traditional and digital media.  The whole purpose of an integrated marcom program is to develop a plan that provides verifiable, quantifiable ROI for the business.  One small business I know receives clients from the Yellow Pages - hard to believe in this day and age, but again, assumptions that "one size fits all" just because of hype and hysteria will soon put a business out of business!

Christina Trapolino
Posted on August 6th 2012 at 12:38PM

I don't disagree with everything in this post, but I do dislike the lack of balance in its approach.  Talking up the importance of inbound marketing is one thing, but framing it as "be lazy" seems like pretty poor advice (and at worst, potentially just link bait).

There is a lot of context missing, here.  I see a wistful yearning for traditional marketing practices, yet no focus on aligning results to goals.  Not all social media initiatives exist to grow fan bases or even to generate leads.  Some of them exist for brand actionable purposes only -- for pure PR, for building authority, or for rebranding.  Some social media initiatives are just about polling customers on behalf of the R&D department.  It's not just about "growth" of the fan base.  If you want to increase your reach, you should know why -- isn't that a traditional marketing tactic?

Why do we "social media experts" talk about the power of engagement?  Because we know the social channels are new ways for our customers to talk to us and we don't believe in squandering that opportunity.  We believe that there is a significant amount of potential in listening earnestly to what customers want -- and if you don't believe engagement can be scaled, you may not have been exposed to enough excellent community managers or smart brands.  :)

Posted on August 6th 2012 at 1:00PM

Hi Christina thanks for your comment. I agree with your points as well. I tried to make the distinction in the title about "growth" - so I left out the branding aspect as you've said. 

And my use of "be lazy" meant that you should focus/invest in things that make other people come find you (so you don't have to go to the effort of reaching out one-on-one).  I didn't really mean to be lazy...

And yes - some of this post was meant to be link bait...  can you blame me? :)

Thanks again for your comment and well thought-out argument though! I'm completely with you on the importance of engagement and community management.

Christina Trapolino
Posted on August 6th 2012 at 1:18PM

I will indeed blame you for link bait!  That IS being "lazy!"  lol 

In all seriousness, thank you for taking the time to respond thoughtfully -- especially to criticism.  Says a lot about your character (and all good things). 

What if we compromise?  4 Things your 'Social Media Expert' Won't Tell You About Growth:

#4 - Growth ain't the only (or even most important) thing to focus on!



Posted on August 6th 2012 at 1:41PM

I really like the addition of #4 - but I'm not sure if it fits in with my link bait angle... :)


Thanks again!

Posted on August 6th 2012 at 3:03PM

Some interesting stuff in here. I would recommend fixing the incorrect percentage of ROI that was picked up from the MarketingSherpa report. $256 for every $1 invested is a 25,600% ROI, not 256%. 

Posted on August 6th 2012 at 4:15PM

I love the cartoon, that is truly what a lot of small businesses get when they ask about a strategy. And also spot on about not jumping on every single new platform just because everybody else did.

BUT, let's talk about how much time it takes to get those speaking gigs and create the content that is broadcasted to a larger audience. And what do you do once you connect with them? Isn't use of an appropriate social media channel an inportant part of that marketing plan?

The bottom line is, there needs to be a strategy to every marketing plan, including which of the social networks fits for you, the time and resources available and whether there is a good fit from one network to the next. Yes, that strategy should be finely tuned to the needs of the business, not hitting 20 different netwiorks., but there is nothing lazy about marketing any company. It's hard work!

Kent Ong
Posted on August 6th 2012 at 10:30PM

Hi Brad, the conclusion is - AIM RIGHT so that we don't have to waste our time to do the wrong things.

Posted on August 7th 2012 at 5:24AM

Thanks Brad its really excellent article,  the points and tips you noted is very much useful for any socialmdia marketer instead of investing less and engaging with them  we must do innovative promotion that should loved by everyone is give a long run to your company.

Posted on August 7th 2012 at 12:14PM

Indeed! Content is still king!

Btw, I read the larger version of this article. There's 22 hard truths that your social media expert don't tell you. Of course, Brad wrote it.



Daniel Moura da Silva
Posted on August 7th 2012 at 3:44PM

A few months ago, I applied to a digital marketing company for a content creation job for Facebook/Twitter. They asked:

- Would you prefer sending 30 posts every week or 6 every day for the client?

- Well, for that kind of thing, maybe daily posts are better, but... depends a lot of each client, and I think you should worry a little more about your content quality.

They didn't test me. They actually specified about needing content creators to provide 30 posts for Facebook every day. This was probably one of the major "faults" I had on this interview, since they never called back.

I'm not a social media expert myself, and the job didn't require a large experiencee, but this quantity thing made me wonder about they handled with content quality. This article and the small discussion the comments didn't make me wonder anymore.

I'm still unsure if they really believe that working with quantity in such way is the right thing to do or if they were afraid about dealing with their clients about why their Facebook pages aren't overflowing with content - relevant or not because, for some clients, 2 posts are better than 1 because it's more.

Posted on August 8th 2012 at 12:30PM

Brad, I'm sorry. I have to disagree. At least for the most part. I understand your point. I do see many companies trying to maintain a presense in too many places and having very little impact anywhere. However, I think this article reads like a blanket statement and I think it can be damaging for those folks out there looking to create a social media strategy by doing their own research. An inexperienced social strategist (not an expert, but let's say the Communications Director at a non-profit with a staff on one) could read this, take it to heart, create a strategy for a FB page and a Twitter account and be done, never really taking a deeper look at what his or her specific organizational goals may be. 

I have recently worked with a large non-profit organization that had so many limbs and branches that to have simply created a social media strategy with only the major platforms would have been a serious injustice to their reaching their goals. Each department needed lifting up. There were niche communities needing to be served around every corner and their overarching goal was to reach out to thier 'neighbors' across the globe. For an organization such as this one, settling for FB, Twitter and YouTube would just not have cut the mustard. 

I am not disagreeing with your basic premise. If you have one thing to sell, perhaps Facebook and Twitter will do it for you. But I think every organization, large, small, new or old, needs a strategy - whether they create it themselves or whether they hire an expert to create it. SOMEONE needs to be thinking strategically about what an organizaiton's goals are and how to use social media to help attain them.

I am not a proponent of more users equals more engagement, but reaching a wider audience gives you the OPPORTUNITY to engage with them. The organizaiton has to make use of every opportunity to engage with their constituents! You discount Pinterest as having almost no value for businesses at all, but what about the millions of eyes on Pinterest that could potentially be drawn to a beautiful photo you've posted and click it, discovering your organizaiton and what you do. This could lead to action. An action that might never have happened had your organization not been on Pinterest. i am not naieve. I realize the number of people who might actually be called to action by a Pinterest pin is probably very small. But I believe that every constituent, is valuable. And even more valuable, every POTENTIAL constituent. 

You do make some good points - email marketing remains quite effective and content shall forever be king. But, as my mama always said, don't through out the baby with the bathwater. 

I enjoyed reading your post and appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts. 


Posted on August 9th 2012 at 9:22AM

Hi - thanks for your comment. I mostly agree with your comments. And I totally agree with your point about needing someone to think strategically, and your work with the nonprofit is a great example of that. 

I guess there are two bias on my part in this article. The first is to focus on using social media to grow, and not necessarily community management. The second is that I feel most (SMB) companies don't have enough time, staff, energy, money, etc. to do a good enough job on several different platforms, So in that case, they should focus on the one or two or three and really give it their all.

The same idea is why I'm putting down Pinterest. It might be great for some businesses and works really well for them. But on average, comapnies would get a better ROI on their limited time, energy, money, etc. by focusing on platforms they own (like their blog content and email marketing), instead of trying to create a presence from scratch on a new platform (which is extremely difficult and resource-intensive - unless you're Starbucks, Coca-Cola, etc.).  

As a side note, I think everyone can agree that most company's blog content - even big companies - is awful. So that's why I'm proposing that people should make that their #1 priority, and then SM fans & followers will find them because of their work.

I hope that explains the thought-process behind this post a little more. 

Thanks again for your comment and well-thought out arguments! I appreciate criticism when it's constructive. :)


Posted on August 9th 2012 at 12:13PM

And I certainly appreciate your explanation, and do agree with your general thoughts. I just felt I needed to offer the other side of the coin, if you will. I can completely relate to the lack of time and resources at some organizations, and in those instances your post is spot on. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Can't wait to read your next post. 


Posted on August 9th 2012 at 4:30PM

Thanks - appreciate it! 

Posted on August 8th 2012 at 8:34PM

Demographic mismatch: The user base is predominately women.

??? Um... you are aware that most purchases and purchase decisions are made by women?

And that women are also more engaged in social media.

Although the above comment about demographic mismatch was directed specifically at Pinterest, used with a little flair and imagination, I can see Pinterest being an extremely powerful marketing tool for retailers in particular. You just need to be smart about how you promote your presence on this platform (or any other, for that matter), and understand who your target audience is and how to cut through the clutter.

Posted on August 9th 2012 at 9:28AM

Hi - thanks for your comment. I do understand the power and importance of women in the buying process - my wife can answer that one :)

And I completely agree that it can be used effectively for a lot of businesses - and like you said with some imagination can be extremely effective for retailers.

I'm just saying that not all companies target demo is predominately women. And I'm using it as an example of a hot trend that's not really a necessity at this time  - and that companies should focus on improving other parts of their online marketing first. 

Thanks again for your comment and points!