My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 2/18/11


It was only a matter of time.

A new social media marketing survey making headlines indicates that the non-stop onslaught of messages from companies and professional firms large and small is causing the general public to “break up” with them — unsubscribe, unfriend, unfollow.

Citing unsettling findings in the new “Social Break-Up” research from ExactTarget and CoTweet, Jay Baer observed that “Regardless of platform, receiving too many messages from too many marketers is a very likely cause of subsequent break-ups, throwing dead weight over the side of the social and email ship until it floats again.”

A Social Media Today post split the blame between extensive messaging and little relevancy as the major reasons why consumers leave Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, or unsubscribe to email lists.

The survey authors asked 1,561 U.S. online users ages 15 and older why they’ve stopped engaging with companies through e-mail and social media:

– 54% messages sent too frequently
– 49% content repetitive and boring
– 47% too many emails sent by brand
– 25% messages were irrelevant from start
– 22% subscribed for a one-time offer

– 44% company authored too many posts
– 43% wall became glutted with marketing
– 38% messages repetitive and boring
– 24% posts were overly promotional
– 19% content was irrelevant from start

– 52% messages repetitive and boring
– 41% stream became inundated with marketing
– 39% company tweeted too frequently
– 21% tweets were overly promotional
– 15% content was irrelevant from start

This survey reminded me of a recent post of Adrian Dayton’s that addressed the same phenomenon in an overused and therefore frequently ignored form of social messaging specific to legal marketing: the client alert.

So the phenomenon is real, big and pervasive. Yet there’s not much we can do about it. All direct response marketing is a matter of optimizing the probability that an item will be 1) opened/read and 2) acted upon.

The effectiveness of content marketing campaigns is a function of interactions among many factors, including:

* Frequency of distribution
* Form factor (i.e. design, formatting, length)
* Content quality & relevance
* Competing messages
* List quality

Until bigger and better minds than mine come up with a brilliant cap-and-trade solution, our best remedy is to focus on 1) useful content that grabs attention and 2) campaign design, planning and rigor.

The error is not in “spraying and praying” — because you don’t know what works until you try — but rather in not tracking, measuring and refining your content marketing strategy and tactics.


  1. In my couple of weeks on Twitter I’ve already decided to take a few that I was following and switch them to lists because all it was they were sending was tweet after tweet of the same random stuff and it was either that or abandon Twitter all together. I’d say, from my very limited experience, this is right on the money!

    • shatterboxvox says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! You’re smart to start curating your Twitter feed with lists from the outset. It will really help you as you add followers.

  2. Great post! (And not only because of the classic Nilsson video!)

    The survey results provide evidence of what many of us have long been saying: Spam kills many marketing campaigns, and if all you’re doing is talking about you and your company, that’s spam.

    • shatterboxvox says:

      Thanks for making time to comment. Gratified that you liked the post.

      Even if every message is finely tuned and useful, the sheer volume is overwhelming.

  3. Good point, Jay. The issue of quantity can be even more difficult than the issue of quality.

    While most of us can agree upon what constitutes spam, the preferred frequency of messages is all over the place. How often is too often is quite subjective.

    One solution: Survey your followers, friends and subscribers.

    • shatterboxvox says:

      In addition to issues of frequency, surveys can be very useful in confirming how customers like to receive information. You can then refine your distribution list by distribution channel. You can also use that information to refine your content distribution strategy. For example, if you’re currently sending the same content out through multiple channels (e.g. blog, Facebook and e-mail), consider limiting the most useful/popular types to a specific channel.

      It’s important to remember, too, that as long as your contacts stay engaged with you on at least one of those platforms, you’re in good standing.

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