You are only as good as the capabilities you remember

How many marketing tools, tactics, and strategies do you know?

If you stopped to think about it just now, chances are you’d struggle to remember more than a few. You probably remembered ones you’ve used most recently, or ones that are part of a project you’re working on now.

However, your potential is much greater. You’ve got a lot of knowledge locked away that you haven’t brought forward and you don’t keep loaded in your head.

As a result, whenever you have to brainstorm, chances are your brainstorms are lackluster. You probably come up with the same 5 ideas over and over again.

How do you defeat this cycle of mediocrity?

The answer is to map out your capabilities, your potential. Map out what you can do, what you know how to do, so that when you face new problems, you’ve got as big a picture of your solutions as possible.

For example, this is a hilariously large mind map from a couple years ago about how to market a podcast:


(for a version you can actually read, click here for the PDF)

When faced with a question about marketing a podcast, instead of trying to wrack my brain for what I know, I can refer to a map I’ve made of what I know how to do. The map refreshes my memory and brings forward the full set of capabilities I can bring to bear.

Make your own mind maps of solutions you have to common marketing problems. When you face problems of a similar nature, you’ll know what you can do and be far more effective in choosing your strategy.

Remember: you are only as good as the capabilities you remember you can do.

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What’s your actual social media reach?

One of the key metrics to pay attention to at the very top of the funnel is reach. How many people are you getting in front of on a regular basis?

Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections are all great and important as a very first step towards growing your presence. That said, how much of the audience you’ve accrued actually sees your stuff?

Here’s an example. In Twitter’s Analytics, this is the information we see by default:


So far, so good. Over 86 days, I accrued 1.2 million impressions. With 80,000+ followers, that works out to 14,000 impressions a day, or about 17.5% reach in aggregate.

But there are details and nuances. Above, I’ve highlighted how a recent tweet has performed. It’s accrued only 1,100 impressions. What if this is the more common scenario? How would we find out?

I downloaded my stats from Twitter (just push the Export CSV button) and plotted average impressions out on a line chart:


It looks like the median reach of my tweets on a daily basis is actually about 2,150 impressions. This tells a very different story: my actual reach for any given tweet is 2.69% of my audience size.

Imagine, if you’re trying to benchmark yourself against competitors, and you see a particularly fearsome competitor with a million followers, how much less fearsome they appear if only reach 26,900 of them?

What’s the antidote to this lack of reach? We of course know what the various social networks would like us to believe the antidote is:

Slackershot: Money

Beyond that, what else can you do? The simplest thing is to cross-pollinate; by sharing the same content on multiple networks, you can reach potentially different audiences. For example, if we examine my Google Analytics traffic, we see that Twitter generates slightly more than 2/3 of my social visits:


If I focused only on Twitter, I’d be missing 30%+ of my traffic from other networks. That’s why I typically will post the same content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. I also use email marketing to reinforce what I share socially, to ensure that content gets seen by as many people as possible.

If your social media program isn’t performing as well as you expect it to, take a look at your actual reach metrics. Find out just how many people are truly seeing your content, then test alternate methods and schedules to find what generates the best results for you.

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How does social media sharing impact the sharer?

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post over on the SHIFT blog about whether social media sharing matters. Jason Falls asked the following question in return:


I’m glad you asked! Logically, if you’re sharing someone else’s content, one would expect that you should see a greater lift in your engagement rates, in things like retweets and favorites, likes, comments, etc. Let’s see if that holds true.

I’ll start by downloading publicly available data about Jason’s Twitter usage, since Twitter’s data is the most accessible. From that data, I want to differentiate what’s owned media – his own content, going to or mentioning his Twitter account – and what’s not. This is a relatively straightforward Excel formula; if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter’s Premium Content, you’ll learn how in this Sunday’s issue.


This is a good start. We want to trim out any @replies that Jason has made and remove any Tweets that don’t contain any URLs, since the topic of discussion is the sharing of content, owned or otherwise.

When we condense all that data down and summarize it, does sharing other people’s content net you less engagement or more? Below is a chart of engagement (favorites and retweets) by owned media content (promoting your own stuff, in red) and shared content (in green):


For Jason, the answer is less; his own posts get more favorites and more retweets on average than posts he shares of other peoples’ stuff. This makes some amount of logical sense; after all, if people follow you for who you are, then they might engage more with your content.

Now, that might be just a case of a personal account. What about a brand? Let’s take the poster child of social media engagement, Oreo. What can we see in their public data about owned vs. shared content?

Oreo Engagement.jpg

Interesting that the difference is even more pronounced. Despite the constant mantra in social media marketing to share, share, share, we see that owned media content has performed better for driving engagement in two prominent examples.

As always, I’d urge you to examine your own metrics and data. Look how sharing impacts your social media engagement, then consider what and how you share to either improve shared media numbers, or double down on your owned media creation and sharing.

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