Inbound Marketers: Stop Watching Your Daily Social Metrics. It’s A Distraction.

If you’re playing a long game, you should consider not obsessing over short term needle shifts

As those who have been following my Medium profile know by now, inbound marketing has been the not-so-secret ingredient that I’m like … really excited about (as in really).

In the space of about a year (since beginning to take it seriously), it’s completely changed how I find clients for my business. Turned my process upside-down.

Two years ago, I relied on a mixture of cold (outbound) contact methods and networking / word-of-mouth to keep my freelance writing business running smoothly.

These days, I’m creating business content and thinking about funnels and how best to target prospective buyers of writing services at each stage of that process.

My volume — I should point out — isn’t huge. But at my minuscule level of scale (I’m a one man writing shop) it also doesn’t need to be.

This week, for instance, I received three inbound leads. But as a solo writing business there’s a very low bar for how many leads I can properly handle and three is already approaching it.

For me, even 4 inbound leads a month — one of which converts into a client — is enough to replace client churn and keep my book of business as busy as it should be. If I were able to double that volume this year, I’d be delighted.

But — as I continue through the journey — I’ve developed one behavior that I realize is totally self-defeating. I’m working on undoing it. And that’s keeping too close an eye on social metrics.

Why do we humans fret about things like Facebook likes and comments?

On the one hand, I think social networks have succeeded in hijacking our reward pathways. We’re addicts.

The other reason, I believe, is force of habit. Because when you’re outbound marketing, monitoring things like email open rates and website bounce rates is pretty essential.

You don’t want to throw effort into a sink-hole and these days — in marketing — we’re all about measurement.

But here’s the message of this post: I want to propose that if we’re going to be engaging in a long-term strategy — like content marketing — that we need to shift our horizons slightly wider.

Which is why I think that keeping an eye on the important metrics (inbound lead generation volume) and doing so only periodically (let’s say monthly) makes a lot more sense than checking any of the following every day:

  • Podcasts listens
  • YouTube subscribers
  • Medium followers
  • Facebook likes

If you’re obsessing over any of the above, then you’re pushing your noise:signal ratio way in the direction of noise.

Which — to state the obvious — then makes it harder for you to pick up on the truly significant trends that might be shaping the effectiveness of your efforts.

Checking in with the important stats — again, I suggest lead volume as the key one to care about for many businesses — means that you are measuring and also gives you an opportunity to course-correct if something’s not working.

But it can free up enormous mental space for creating content that would otherwise be sidelined, unproductively, into following what I term ‘vanity metrics’.

Content marketing and inbound are long term business development strategies. I’ve called them the ultimate long games. And that’s the kind of mindset that they ask for.

And the phrase ‘the watched kettle never boils’ applies well in this context.

The kettle is the product of your engagement —the stuff that will really matter to your business — namely lead generation.

And the unproductive watching keeping it from boiling is you obsessing over social engagement metrics that just reflect unnoteworthy day to day shifts in your engagement. In most instances, this is information that you don’t need to know about.

By foregoing the small dopamine hits you might be getting when your post gets a like or comment you can focus on the big stuff that actually might make a difference. Stop worrying about picking up one or two followers. Worrying if you’re up or down by thousands. And how busy your pipeline is looking.

By all means measure the success of your content marketing and re-evaluate when something’s not working. Just shift the timeframe of your measurement and focus it on the long term. Shift your horizon of focus a bit wider than day-to-day.

When your first compelling piece of content is hitting the social feeds it’s time to start planning the new one — and not obsessing over views and likes.

Marketing communications consultant interested in tech, Linux, ADHD, beer, async, and remote work (in no particular order).