If Content Is King What Role Does Social Media Play?

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In a previous post, I wrote about “How To Get 55 Comments And 98 Likes On Your First Article Using Social Media“. In the article, I spelled out the process I used to gain traction to a blog post I wrote on a brand new blog, using Facebook as the only source of traffic. This article sparked a very interesting discussion, with 61 comments to date.

It also started a debate on whether Social Media is even worth the time invested. My buddy Mitch, who started Blog Mastermind at the same time I did, was a very active part of the discussion. Mitch is someone I respect, and I admire him for the passion he puts into his online business. If it were someone else, I MIGHT not have taken him as seriously, but it’s Mitch, so how can I not take him seriously?

I think Mitch’s perspective can be summarized by one statement that he made (and he can correct me if I’m wrong):

Any time spent getting followers on a Facebook page or Twitter is wasted time you could be producing content that is going to get real followers to your blog.

This sparked an interesting debate on the topic of whether social media platforms contribute any value to the growth of online business. In light of such a strong response, I’ve decided to write this follow-up blog post to shed some additional light on what I believe is the way social media sites like (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc.) can be effectively used to help grow an online business.

In The World Of Google, Content Is King

Mitch’s statement alluded to the fact that Content is what really matters. This is the great part about what he had to say. Let’s take what he has done as an example. On the day he wrote that comment, he had 9,782 unique visitors to his website that day alone (and it was only noon). On his site, there were 27 new articles scheduled to be released that day. That’s a butt-load of articles, but it’s obviously paying off.

“In the world of Google, Content is king”. I can’t take credit for that statement, and I don’t know where I heard it from, but it’s such a true statement. When it comes to internet marketing, your content is your currency. When a site is just getting started, one of the best ways to get your site noticed by Google is to produce high quality content on a regular basis. Yes, there are other ways to succeed without being a prolific content producer. However, each article you put out there is another entry point for traffic.

Time for a simple math lesson (since I also teach math):

Let’s say you have 10 articles on your website, and each article gets an average of 10 hits via the search engine on a daily basis. Simple math tells us that you can expect to see 100 hits every day (10 x 10). Not bad. 100 visits to your website when you are just starting isn’t a super huge deal, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Now let’s say that you are a beast like Mitch (and I mean that in the best way possible) and you just become a content generating maniac. However, let’s tone down the beastliness and say that after a few months you have 1000 articles on your blog, assuming that each brings an average of 10 visits to your website. What does that mean? 10,000 hits every single day (1,000 x 10).

It’s easy to see that more content is more beneficial. So Mitch is definitely right there.

Quality Matters

Many people take this content thing the wrong way. They think that as long as they have a lot of content, they are good to go. However, it’s not just the quantity that matters, it’s also the Quality, even more-so than the amount. The goal of your content should be to not only bring traffic, but to entice your website visitors to become frequent visitors to your site, and where that’s concerned, quality trumps quantity.

A well-written article (or a great audio/video post) that helps your audience solve a pressing problem will do much more than 50 poorly written articles that benefit no one.

The Role Of Social Media

When I did my little social media experiment, my goal was just to see how quickly I could get an active discussion going at a brand new blog – in part to be able to write about it and share what I learned. I knew that I couldn’t rely on SEO to drive a good amount of traffic to the blog overnight. SEO is a long term strategy and in my mind, social media was the only way to do something like that so quickly. It worked, because I ended up with 55 comments and 98 likes over the span of a few days. That’s pretty good for a brand new site.

Think about it – news spreads so quickly these days with sites like Twitter and Facebook playing such a big part of life as we know it today. One tweet can cause such a rapid cycle that things happening on the other side of the world can spread within seconds and reach you almost instantaneously. I don’t even watch the news anymore, because it’s much more efficient for me to get my news on Twitter :)

Let’s briefly touch upon some of the benefits of using social media sites:

  1. It’s Free. There is no cost associated with tweeting or updating your Facebook status.
  2. It can yield quick results, as can be seen with the experiment I conducted.
  3. It gives you additional platforms to communicate with your subscribers.
  4. People spend LOTS of time on these social media sites. It’s good for your business to be where the people are.

So Is Social Media Everything In Today’s World?

Absolutely not. It’s definitely NOT a substitute for generating high quality content on a regular basis. You can spend LOTS of time on these social networking sites and not accomplish anything – especially if you are not over delivering on your content. Just like with any other traffic generating system, your traffic doesn’t matter if it doesn’t convert. Facebook might be able to send you traffic, but it’s up to you to know what to do with it.

As Mitch put it, you’re time is better spent producing quality content that is going to get you REAL followers to your blog.

How To Effectively Use Social Media

People tend to listen to the hype of so many gurus out there claiming that social media is the key to success. The part they somehow don’t realize is that whether you use social media or not, building a solid online business is a massive undertaking. Make no mistake. However, if you do plan on using social media to help you grow your business, here are some tips:

  1. Social Networking is not about selling your product. It’s about nurturing relationships with your followers. It’s about gaining trust. Once you have established yourself as a trustworthy, credible source, you are more likely to gain loyal followers that are more likely to purchase your product/service. When I did my experiment, I already had a relationship with my Facebook friends. That’s what Made it so effective.
  2. Be personable. People go to Facebook to connect with other People. For the most part, they aren’t looking for sales pitches. Be a real person, and you will get real people to follow you. Don’t be all business, be all YOU!
  3. Don’t build a business solely on Social Media. Yes, a social media campaign can be effective. However, you must recognize that you don’t own your Facebook or Twitter account. Facebook and Twitter own your accounts. That being said, always have a solid funnel where you are driving people back to your blog/website to deliver the bulk of the value there and getting them onto YOUR list.
  4. Be goal-oriented and get in and out Quickly. I don’t know how many people intend to get on Facebook to check something really quick, and find themselves attached to it 5 hours later. It can be addictive. So, you need to make sure to have a specific goal, and spend a specified amount of time on those sites, if you decide to make it a part of your business.
  5. Don’t stop producing AWESOME CONTENT. Your content is your business – NOT your Facebook or Twitter account.

Whether or not you choose to use social media in your online business, or any other strategy for generating traffic and communicating with your followers, keep your priorities in check. Content is King, and there is no substitute.

So what do you think? What’s the role of social media? Does it ROCK? Does it SUCK? Join in on the discussion below.

Yours Socially!

Btw, you can always connect with me on Twitter and Facebook ;)

About Leslie Samuel

Leslie Samuel is a blogger who believes that the internet can change the world. He runs an Interactive Biology website that Makes Biology Fun and teaches people how to grow their online business in his Learning With Leslie podcast. He also runs a Become A Blogger - A blog dedicated to helping people Change The World with their blogs. Follow Leslie Samuel on Twitter.

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32 Comments

  • Its been a while since I comment anythin here. Yes I very much agree with the points here.

    I think there must be a balance of socialising and promoting. You can’t say you can’t promote cos if you are doing business you have to, otherwise you’ll just be wasting time talking to people.

    So the answer is actually balance. 20:80 rule and it depends on the condition of the audience. Why do people follow your or want to be friends with you on facebook.

    That’s all from me.

    Fadzuli
    From Singapore.

  • Thanks for the followup article. You are right social media is not the only one that can bring online success. One needs to provide valuable content, connect with their audience and implement systems to get their target audience to take action.

    We need to implement multiple marketing pillars to get good result. If not, if that avenue dies we will loss our source of traffic.

    There are tools out there that can help us shoot out our content to multiple avenues at the same time. These tools can help us shoot out content to Squidoo, Digg, Technorati, Stumbleupon, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc. These are other ways to get our articles to spread over the internet, and if it’s an interesting article and it in trend, we are definitely going to get comments.

    Thanks for clarifying the fact that Facebook is not the only way but one of the ways.

  • If Content is King. Social Media Plays as Traffic Role.

  • A thought just hit me:

    Content is king, quality is queen and social media is the court jester!

    Thanks Les, you just gave me an idea for a killer title :-)

  • Thanks for the read. The thing that totally amazes me is how many people are concerned with social media , keyword ranking in google, and what their banner looks like on their site yet write an article a week or less and wonder why they don’t get any traffic. There really sin’t any easy way that I know of. While I knwo there are easier Niche’s and niche’s where content has a longer shelf life than mine, I think the less work in a lot of those instances means less money. While I know there are a lot of exceptions, I will continue to spend 99% of my time on content generation..

  • Fantastic article. I feel like some of these points are what I preach on a daily bases. Every entrepreneur should read this post. Content is king and social media should not be a sales pitch. Thanks for reiterating these important tips to the world.

  • I think it’s all about marketing, if you have a good content, but you don’t know how to promote it, your content is useless.

  • I’m glad to see that Content is still King. People can use social media sites to gather new traffic sources. However with a finite amount of time, is Twitter worth an hour?,when that hour could be spent writing a quality post?

    John
    Just wondering in Leamington Spa, England

  • I highly disagree that social media is free. There is opportunity cost associated with any action that you take.

    Think of it this way – if I want to make $50k in a year, and work 3 hours per day, then I have (3 * 5 * 52) = 780 hours per year to spend. $50k / 780 hours = $64.10 per hour. That means that if an action that takes an hour doesn’t make me $64.10, then I shouldn’t do it.

    Likewise, if it takes 10 minutes to update Facebook and Twitter, then those actions should generate $10.68 in profit.

  • Awesome post Leslie, well I think social media has a role to play in your online business and what matters most is how you tend to use it. Quality content matters most. If you are posting just because you want to please google, then I think you should re-think. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Leslie, I agree with your article.
    I have to say though, that if you compare [content production] with [using social media] it is like comparing apples to pears.
    As a (online) entrepreneur you have to deal with different sides of your business, like content production, marketing and traffic generation.

    If one states that it is a waste of time to spend on social media, than that person is clearly stuck some years ago! Social media is a way to connect with your visitors/consumers, which clearly should be part of your marketing strategy.

    On another note, you use the terms [hits] and [visitors] in your article, but both are clearly something else.

  • Really interesting post. What are the best social startups for small businesses to use?

    • Jeff, I would say it all depends on what kind of business you have. If your business can meet the demand/answer the users Twitter is definitely a great place to establish your business. Especially if alot of users are asking questions on twitter, you can come in and give them the answer and grow your business on it.

      -Jean

  • Great article. I post my articles on social media as well as on my site, mainly to build a Relationship. I’ve just met my first JV partner with a list of 20,000 through FB:

    1. Networking on SM
    2. Broadcasting regularly with posts on SM
    3. Never selling, just endlessly giving.
    4. Being myself although don’t be fooled this is strategic of course, so no time is wasted.
    5. Being the Leader – really you start to get followers through FB who really listen to YOU…then you see them drop into your site and straight in to sign up for your newsletter – that’s powerful….!

    I also use forum marketing, commentating, guest blogging as well as post to Ezines, answer all my comments across my site, and just keep giving value.

    So YES, SM is the way forward, the big way forward so far for me…

    MARKETING and LEADERSHIP….win!

    Great post Leslie!!

  • To date, I have never gotten involved in any of the social media platforms. But a new business venture I am starting up requires that type of interaction.

    Content may be king, but that’s assuming a traditional website structure. It may be easier to write “content” in that kind of structure. But what about when visitors come to your site for extensive media? Something that can’t be whipped out in an hour but rather takes months of production work? Visitors will not stay on this site reading articles but rather looking for more media.

    But apparently the new DIY distribution methods strongly require social media not only to bring traffic but to gain a fan base.

    So, this article couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

    • By social media, I don’t necessarily mean media-rich content. I’m actually referring moreso to the social networking aspect, where you can connect with your target audience.

      Once you’ve connected with them, the next step is to convert them to subscribers. Once you can accomplish that consistently, you are using social media/networking effectively.

  • Great Post!!!

    Social media is a very nice way to get traffic but it´s not easy… This article will help me to get this! Thanks so much!

  • IMO, social media is ACE now because recently Google took action against content farms. Social media can drive traffic to your blog, but we cannot neglect quality content. Nice post

  • Social networking is really tough for me! I am slowly catching on and you’re post gave me some much needed guidance. :)

  • I personally think that social media is a driver to get traffic for a website. A simple link posting over Facebook and Twitter with a very catchy title can mean a lot to a website. Content is the King and Social Media is your push to see the King. :)

  • social media is amazing i get more sales and promotion from twitter and facebook than anything else.

  • i really think social media will transform into a consumer demand race where users wants and desire will become more readily available than they even are now

  • Leslie you hit it spot on, you need the content above all else. I know with a Sports Site that I have, I constantly deliver quality content, and the website just keeps growing and growing. I don’t have that good of a social presence, but the Google presence is there. The hardest part I find is whenever dealing with social media, is getting the users away from the social sites and to your website. For example, most of the time if you are using twitter or facebook, for the most part those users tend to stay there, the most difficult part I’ve found is to convert those users to your site instead of the facebook/twitter pages.

    -Jean

  • I think that social media is beneficial to those who present themselves well on facebook or twitter, or are lucky! There are many people nowadays that do not accept random friend requests or accept posts from non-friends. I’ve had a facebook page for about 4 years now, but recently just started posting on there due to the start of my business and blogs. Twitter is very new to me and it seems that it only works if you know people who are already on Twitter and you send them a request to follow you. If you don’t, then it is difficult to get followers. The social media avenue requires a strategic approach, which I am still trying to figure out. Hopefully more articles like these will help.

    Thanks!

  • Rob

    Leslie,

    There are plenty of folks that have made it with and w/out social media.
    Although, social media is probably the quickest path to see the King.
    That being said (written), it may not be the social media you use but someone
    else’s (shout out about you) that makes it go viral. This brings us back to quality content. Anyone can increase the amount of visitors they get. Who keeps them?

    Live it LOUD!

  • I think Social media a way to expand your reach not attain it.

  • [...] Networking March 14, 2011 By siteadmin Leave a Comment Many social media marketers claim that content is king and should be the focus of every social media strategy. However, which content should be placed on [...]

  • if content is king, social media is a queen.

  • There is a big difference between Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. Youtube is essentially a search engine that can expose your product or website to all kinds of new people. Facebook and Twitter are tons of small communities or cliques that take some time to build up a following. With YouTube you can have a video go viral or upload a consistent amount of videos to build loyal subscribers.

    I see Twitter and Facebook more as tools to build a loyal following and have influence in your market, but it will take time. Definitely worth the consistent effort.

    - Andrew

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