And it doesn’t work a whole lot better than the ones we already have.

While doing some research for a client project, I came across this great post from Chad Warren on the Adobe Digital Marketing blog. In it, Chad discusses (in an admittedly creative mixed metaphor) the “seri­ous dose of real­ity [dropped] on everybody’s golden goose” by some new research from Forrester, which indicates that only 15% of consumers trust content posted by companies on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

I found that fascinating, and started doing some more digging into the state of trust online. This spring, Nielsen released a report that shows fewer than 45% of people trusted most forms of digital advertising “completely or somewhat”, and the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that the three most-trusted sources of company information are academics or experts (68%), company technical expert (66%), a person like yourself (65%) and regular employees (50%). Soooo… in summary, it would appear that we trust company technical experts the most and digital platforms in the middle. However, by some magic formula, we trust the combination of the two least of all. Even though that content is very often posted by our most trusted sources on channels that allow us to question it.


Now, of course I am using these dueling (and probably incomparable) stats to make a couple of smartass points, first: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” and secondly (and most importantly; you really ought to know that first one by now): I believe there actually is a pretty big problem with how many organizations are using social media, and it’s making those channels perform poorly. Just as poorly as the interrupt-and-repeat approach brands and agencies are still so hooked on.

I’m going to state the obvious: if you produce content that no one cares about, they’re going to ignore it. It doesn’t matter how you distribute it. We saw this firsthand when we worked with some of the pioneering platforms in the content marketing/paid social space, years ago: we were able to generate CTRs that were 4-6x (and sometimes up to 10 or 15x) what you’d see from display advertising. This was because we were thoughtful about both the content and the presentation of that content to the audience we were trying to reach. We then watched our media agency brethren eagerly jump on many of these sites/tools and fail spectacularly, delivering CTRs in the 1% range. Why? Because they were using marketing content, ads. And. No. One. Cared

If you find that your social accounts are waning in effectiveness or not delivering the results you’d expected, you have a content problem, not a channel problem. Basically: you’re doing it wrong.

The funny thing is, I (along with many of my esteemed colleagues in this space) have been saying this since the middle of the last decade. Hopefully smart brands are finally getting ready to listen and become the rule, rather than the exception.


  1. We’ve been struggling with ideas to create value in social media for our site. What would you recommend a b2b company do with social media?

  2. That’s a big question, Raymond, and usually one we charge our clients to answer 🙂

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