Social media reality check (again)

Social media is hot.

It’s also one of the hottest refuges for scammers and BS artists.

I recently made the mistake of doing some pro bono work for a good cause run by amateurs. (Long story and a mistake I will never repeat.)

Throughout the process, I’ve been told I have to meet with this social marketing expert and that one, the implication being they have something of value to bring to the party that’s more important than actually getting the job done. (These folks LOVE meetings. They don’t like work.)

Meanwhile, I patiently try to explain to these wing nuts that the only currency that means anything in Internet marketing is the size of your e-mail list (prospects and customers). Not how many “friends” you have, how many people “follow” you on Twitter, or how much chatter there is about you in the blogosphere.

Hey, I like Twitter and I know people who get some good things from Facebook, but I don’t know anyone who would trade a solid e-mail list to become king of Twitter or Facebook.

Conversely, I know plenty of social media masters who are one step away from living in a “van down by the river.” (Google it. If you don’t know the Saturday Night Live routine that phrase is from, you’re in for some serious laughter.)

Anyway, after listening the the millionth and one social media “genius” I took a look at some of my own social media stats. (My social media weapon of choice being video.)

Here are my numbers:

1. I’ve pushed one video over the 2,800,000 views mark
2. I’ve pushed two over the 1,200,000 views mark
3. I’ve pushed seventeen over the 100,000 view mark (sixteen singehandedly, one in partnership)

Total cash expenditure: zero dollars.

It was all accomplished by viral marketing, also know as “word of mouth” and all these hits were kicked off with mailing to an e-mail list. No Twitter. No Facebook.

I’m sure there are social media “gurus” who could turn these stats into speaking gigs at the latest social media conferences, television appearances, and books on how to “crush it.”


I’m very unimpressed by my own accomplishments.


I’m in SALES.

How many leads did I generate? How many sales did I close? How many people did I induce to come back and buy a second and third and fourth time?

Let’s get real folks.

Social media is gravy.

You better have a meal to put it on.

Focus on what matters.

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

Notes on sleep
Chilling in Sedona

18 Responses to Social media reality check (again)

  1. Ed Osworth - The Joy Professor April 22, 2010 at 4:00 am #

    That’s about the most honest evaluation of social media I have read. I have pushed videos over the 100,000 mark and put countless hours into Facebook and other must do social media.

    Like Ken my conclusion is “Where’s the Beef?”

    On the internet it is WAY too easy to mistake attention for money.

  2. Chuck Haynes April 22, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    Right on. It is about time someone said it. Content, Content, Content not hype is what drives sales.

  3. Larry April 22, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    Dear Ken,
    I too, am sick of hearing about the gold mine hidden in social media websites like FaceBook.

    I’m on several marketing email lists so I see guru after guru recommending all the new Social Media Courses designed to show me how to get rich.

    I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I totally dominate in my niche.

    My page was receiving so many “friend” requests, I had to deactivate my account to shut it down.
    Not to mention all the “friends” who I pissed-off because they felt “neglected” (I didn’t constantly interact with them by writing on their wall etc.)

    What a hassle.

    Here’s the truth about social media websites…



    One day I may experiment by testing some PPC ads on Facebook but in most cases, I feel it’s a waste of time and effort.

    Thanks for your point of view, Ken.

    Take care,

    Larry T.

  4. ed petty April 22, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    Funny and well written. The only thing dilletants crush are beer cans in a van down by the river.

  5. Graham Ross April 22, 2010 at 6:39 am #

    Hi Ken,

    I think your words are very wise.

    The only thing that really matters is providing excellent original content for people in your niche, and then selling them “stuff” that will also give them great value. Both of these things require lots and lots of hard work.


  6. James Martell April 22, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    Hi Ken,

    Yes, right on. I do like Twitter as well, and you make a great point … which I agree to whole heartedly … I would never consider, not even for a second, exchanging Twitter for my email list.

    I love this “Social media is gravy. You better have a meal to put it on.”

    Great stuff!


  7. Peter - Software Marketing Secrets April 22, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    “Social media is gravy. You better have a meal to put it on.”

    Hear hear to that.

    I am twittering this now 😉

  8. Casey Stevens April 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    It’s not a popularity contest, it’s business.

    People should remember that.

  9. mark young April 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    I recently spent time with a major shoe company. They had hired a person to “manage their social media” to the tune of $150,000 a year. When I asked how many leas did they get from it, I got blank stares. I asked did they have a way of contacting any of the people that went to their facebook page..more blank stares. Yet when asked if they would attend a trade shoe where actual buyers were showing up, they responded they didn’t have the money. Great Ideas, but in the wrong direction.

  10. Gogo | Idea Age Business Consulting April 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    And now, Ken…

    Wait for it…

    Wait for it…


    The stones from social media experts when they find out what you just wrote on this blog.
    It’s amazing how much simpler the truth is. It just needs good old fashioned hard work to be effective.

    You better stop telling the truth, like any prophet, you’ll probably get stones.


  11. Paula April 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Well said, Ken! You are so right – I love the gravy and meal analogy. The gravy is such a SMALL part. I’m tweeted this too. 🙂

  12. Jaime April 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Converesley I have done some serious business generated through social networking alone – no email involved. Globally too. Would never have happened with targeted emailing. Email is specific, social media is random. You need a mix. I 100% agree on using email marketing but I think you are missing the point here.

    If you generated that many views on your videos and didn’t monetise then you are doing something wrong…

    Email is great, social networking is great but you are right, if you don’t have a solid product behind it then what’s the point?

  13. Todd Tresidder April 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    Thank goodness for this post… Finally, here is something about social media that matches business common sense.

    I’ve always viewed building my site as creating virtual real estate where you define your own “corner” in the “town” you want to be located in. It never made sense to build someone else’s real estate, and it never made sense to spend my limited time building something that was temporary or ephemeral rather than a real asset (like lists, products, or my own site).

    In a world where time is at a premium value and my own site requires more tasks to complete than I have time, I’m glad to see someone with authority (yes Ken, I view you as having credible authority!) put it all into perspective so succinctly.


  14. Impress Callers April 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    Excellent post. Ken has been preaching “traffic + CONVERSION” for decades. If you have a “Google of Traffic” and no conversions, you are still broke. You cannot multiply ZEROS. Take heed traffic junkies…conversions are what guarantee your future.

    Interestingly enough its the 3rd piece of the puzzle which allows both traffic and conversion to continuously improve. “Measurement & Testing.”


    Garrett Todd
    Custom Messaging and Music When Putting Your Callers On Hold
    Free Custom Quotes in 2 Minutes

  15. Spinelli's Sign Company April 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    It’s good to ‘put yourself out there’ and get personal with the people. but
    social media is mostly for play.
    People aren’t really there to buy anything (no hungry crowd).

  16. Donna Maher April 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    Hi Ken,

    LOVE your sage wisdom and solid advice always. That’s why your list is one of the few that I continue to read, the rest are just empty product-pushers and get deleted.

    In life, people are super-lucky to have five REAL friends. The social media sites are rarely good for anything other than keeping in touch, although sometimes we do get to reconnect with lost friends and relatives, which is a nice benefit.

    Thanks for a great article as always. 🙂


  17. Jason Simpkins April 25, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    I completely agree with your analysis Ken. I use Facebook and Twitter as ways to promote my brand and make people aware of what I have to offer – not directly as a selling tool.

    If they happen to check out my site, then that’s where I offer quality content, products and services. I’m slowly building my list based on your teachings and will continue to focus on “Traffic + Conversions”.

  18. Smart Video SEO June 11, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi Ken,

    Its interesting to hear someone give an alternative view on the current bandwagon that is social media – I think like anything there will be those who succeed and those who don’t – but it certainly is not the “Golden Egg” that it is sometimes made out to be.

    The people who “Crush It” do so because of a lot more than a few timely tweets or a nice page on Facebook – the age old priciples of marketing do not change simply because you can communicate more directly with an audience than ever – but I think they do mean that if you communicate effetively you can potentially gain a lot more than you would have pre- social media.


Leave a Reply