Lab Report: Social Media

We’re using our educational website as an SEO lab, using one technique each week to see what effects we get. Overall, we’re seeing success; we launched on April 18th, and now have 300+ visitors a day.

Last month we added social media. First we added a Facebook page. We post a link to the day’s post every day. We often do this for our clients.

As you can see, we’re not making much progress here. We have five fans, where other pages we set up for clients at the same time have a couple hundred. Of the 5,436 visits we’ve had in the past 30 days, only six have been from Facebook.

We also set up a Twitter account a couple of weeks ago. Again, we did it as we do for our clients: a custom background, automatic push of the blog to Twitter, and a few  friendly comments a day.


Twitter had sent us 27 of the last 5,436 visits we’ve had, and we have thirteen followers. So Twitter is doing less dismally for us than Facebook, but still not exactly driving traffic.

Here’s the question: when your social media doesn’t seem to be working well, what should you do?

Here are some things to think about:

  • What’s the cost? Marketing is always about ROI (return on investment). If we were putting larger amounts of time and money into social media, we might back off. Lots of our clients would make that decision at this point. For us, it’s not a big deal. We can do it fast in house. We could decide to put more effort into it and probably get better results, but for right now, we can afford to spend a few minutes a day on this.
  • Social media isn’t fast. By now, we have plenty of evidence that you can fake networking in social media and get fake results — thousands of followers who are trying to sell you stuff, for example — and that a quick rise in numbers doesn’t generally lead to an equally quick rise in sales. Actual results in social media, just as in real-world networking, take time.
  • Marketing isn’t fast. Online marketing can get faster results than traditional marketing methods, but the old rule of thumb says that you shouldn’t expect any results for five months. Anything you get in the way of extra sales before you’ve done a consistent marketing effort for five months should be considered gravy. I think this is still true. Some of our clients (and we) get lots more gravy now than people did in the past, but those of our clients who give up after a couple of months don’t see the results of those who stick it out for five months.

So when we see clients getting lots of bang for their buck in social media, we usually step it up for them. When they’re getting just a little response, we continue doing just a little and put most of our efforts into the things that are already doing more.

Slow, natural growth can do a lot over time with social media. It’s not wasted effort. But we recommend trimming your sails to suit the prevailing winds. Put the most investment into what’s giving you the most return. Trying to do a little of everything is very likely to cause you to end up with nothing much in the way of returns.

Or, if you like farming metaphors better than sailing ones, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but there’s no point in standing in the middle of the room tossing eggs into baskets all over the place and letting most of them get broken.

Our lab suggests that for this particular website, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t the best place to put our efforts. We’ll keep you posted.






Leave a Reply