The Stupidly Obvious Secret Ingredient to Social Media Success

Your success in social media is determined by this highly scientific equation:

Effort + How Funny You Are + (Luck/100000) = Social Media Success

You can’t control luck. You definitely can’t control how funny you are. So what do you need improve to find success with social media?


Photo cred: Ferdinando del Drago

The more effort you put into blog posts, into helping customers, into building relationships with bloggers, into participating in conversations etc…the more you’ll start to see returns.

No one said it was going to be easy.  Setting up a twitter account, a facebook page and a blog doesn’t take much effort.  Keeping these things updated and getting returns will take a great deal of effort.

Get your hands dirty, go above and beyond for your community, struggle for the of benefit others, and rack your brain for new ways to help people.

And yes, as hard as you work, you’ll still have to be patient.  It will take time and you will make some mistakes… but if you’re willing to contribute a great deal of effort into social media, then you will see returns over time. I guarantee you will.

The tools, the tricks, the tips…that’s all easy to pick up with a little practice.

Effort won’t always work in other areas of business.  Certainly, you can put a great deal of effort into marketing, and still see no results.  Same with advertising and traditional PR.

The good part?  Once you start to see returns, it gets much easier.  It starts to flow.

Take a look at some of the most “successful” people and companies in social media.  Look at Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, Gary V, Scott Stratten, Scott Monty and the list goes on.  They’re bringing success to themselves and their brands because they’re hustling their asses off day in and day out.

So, stop acting confused when your blog post that you threw together in 10 minutes didn’t go viral.

Stop questioning the value of social media when you can’t get any twitter followers in the first few months.

Stop dipping your toes in, and wondering why the rivers of cash haven’t started flowing.

It’s frustrating.  It takes time, it takes practice…it takes serious effort.

But trust me…it’s worth it.

Social Media is NOT an End

BB1162-002 How many followers do you have? How many facebook fans did your page bring in? How many RTs did you get on your last link?


It’s not that these numbers don’t matter, but these questions are irrelevant if they’re not tied to an end.

Social media isn’t an end. Being successful in social media isn’t necessarily success.  It doesn’t matter how well you do in terms of “social media numbers”.

What matters is what you turn those numbers into. The end is the bottom line, it’s leads, it’s customers, it’s money.

Stop treating social media like an end…it’s just another means to an end.

Thanks to Geoff Livingston for inspiring this post with his presentation at the Social Good conference.

Will Google Continue to Be Successful?

google1Since it’s birth in 1998, Google has continued to increase in size and revenues, but has recently faced difficulties maintaining such numbers. Today Google announced it’s first quarter 2009 results, with a 3% decrease in revenues from the fourth quarter of 2008.

“Google had a good quarter given the depth of the recession–while revenues were down quarter over quarter, they grew 6% year over year, thanks to continued strong query growth. These results underline both the resilience of our business model and the ongoing potential of the web as users and advertisers shift online. Going forward, our priority remains investing for the long term to drive future growth in our core and emerging businesses.” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

Lately, there have been questions about whether Google can continue to be successful. We are currently in a time of great change in the social web. Google will face some of the biggest challenges it has ever seen over the next couple years. Let’s look at some of Google’s  resources and some of the challenges they’ll have to overcome.

Google Resources

  • Innovative Culture. Everything from the organizational structure to the hiring process to the office environment at Google is built for innovation and creativity.  Google maintains a “small business” feel to increase personal interaction amongst employees and promote team building.  Google is also known as one of the best companies to work for as they provide a great deal of “perks” to make sure its employees are happy and comfortable.
    • Counter: Google’s “laid back” organizational structure will cause them to decrease in efficiency, and it’s small business structure causes a decrease in productivity as it stimulates competition amongst employee teams.
  • Cash. Googles sitting on a huge pile of cash ($17.8 billion as of March 31, 2009) that it can, and has used to purchase new innovative start-ups that show a lot of potential.  This will ensure that even if they don’t create the “next big thing”, they can buy it from the people that do.
    • Counter: Google may have a lot of cash, but Microsoft has more.
  • Brand Name. Everyone knows the name Google.  I’m pretty sure it’s actually in the dictionary now.  You no longer search for something online…you Google it. Google has a great deal of brand loyalty and sits up high at at the top of the search market.
    • Counter: Being so large and well known is a liability for Google.  Any wrong step will need a great deal of crisis management.  As Google continues to grow, it will find it harder and harder to keep to it’s philosophy of “do no evil”.
  • Range of Applications. Google provides an array of free applications.  You can create a google account and gain access to google docs, calendar, talk, maps, earth and lots more.  While its main competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo!, offer a lot of their own applications, none are quite as extensive as that of Google’s.
    • Counter: Google is losing focus on its main service, its search.  Aside from its search, youtube and a few other apps, most of their services don’t hold very much market share. While the power of Google’s brand name will retain search users for now, if it loses focus it may lose its momentum as well.

Other Challenges

  • Issues with Privacy. There are a number of issues with privacy when looking at Google.  Two major issues have been with the scanning of gmail messages and the street-view on Google Maps.  The question is, are people willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience?  In step with the growth of the web, the answer has been increasingly yes as people are sharing more and more of their personal lives online…but to what extent?
  • Increased Focus on Conversation. Twitter search is quickly becoming a leading tool for searching the web.  Where google ranks pages using the algorithm that they’ve worked so hard to develop, Twitter has been able to provide people with fast information that is user recommended and almost always relevant.  We’ve heard talks of Google wanting to buy Twitter, which may be their best bet.  Either way, Google has to find a way to incorporate such conversation into their search engine, or be left behind with nothing more than a useless Jaiku.

I’ve barely scraped the surface of the great amount of factors that affect Google.  There are so many things to consider when looking at a company of such magnitude, that is involved in so many markets.  I think that Google will continue to grow, but not at the rapid pace that they have enjoyed in the past.  Many of the issues they face today are issues that they have faced for years and have still been successful.  With their focus on innovation, Google should be able to stay ahead of the curve, or at least keep up in this rapidly changing social environment.

What do you think? Will we still be “Googling” for years to come?  Will Google continue to be successful?


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Social Media is Fast, Engaging it Isn’t

Are you shooting for fast numbers or meaningful numbers?hare-tortoise

Sites like twitter are allowing us to share information faster than ever before. Yesterday, twitter users like @justinlevy and myself found out about Steve Jobs’ leave of absence an hour before any news station reported it on television. Many businesses have seen this fast flow of information and think that they can find fast success on these platforms.  They’re wrong.

It’s not the goal that matters but how you get there. So much focus is put on the numbers whether it be number of followers on Twitter, number of readers on your blog, or any other stat on which companies base ROI.  When asked, many “social media consultants” advise you to focus on relationships and condemn the notion of “numbers = success”.  Others care more about reaching as many people as possible than who they’re reaching.  Both are missing the point which is this…

Once you build strong relationships, the numbers will follow. If you build relationships with people in your community, they will be loyal to your company like they would a friend, trust your message, and be willing to share it with their connections.  Show that you care about who you’re reaching out to, not just how many, and they’ll care back.

It’s not such a bad thing to shoot for high numbers, but how you go about it will determine your success.  If you take the time to build meaningful relationships, you will enjoy the benefits of social media’s rapid viral opportunities in the longer run.

Would really like to hear what you think.  Comments? Criticism?

On a completely unrelated note, I will be at the Mashable NYC event today, tweeting away… so if you see me or want to meet, feel free to say hello or slap me for quoting “Field of Dreams” in a post about social media.  Either way I’d love to meet up!

Edit: Removed inapplicable “Field of Dreams” quote thanks to reader feedback (=