Popularity vs Engagement vs Integrity

Catching up with my newsletter subscriptions this morning something from Dennis Shiao’s Content Corner caught my eye, I was going to tweet, but it went a bit long….

I’ve just read Dennis Shiao’s Content Corner newsletter, in which he shares an experience of posting a really popular tweet, that in comparison with his other tweets had gone viral.

Here’s the tweet:

We’ve all had the experience that Dennis mentions and it resonated with a big audience.

But, his analysis found that despite 58,000+ impressions and 450+ engagements, he saw no uptick on the engagement metrics he cares about; followers and subscribers. (He goes on to share some good advice about what to do – worth a read).

It resonated with me this morning, as I had just taken a rare trip through the Google analytics of this blog. The most popular blog post, by a wide margin, is 10 B2B Marketing Influencers You Might Not be Following.

It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to know why.

It’s unsurprisingly popular, as it ticks a lot of the boxes for a popular blog post; it’s a listicle, it mentions lots of popular people who would share it and it’s easily consumed, it’s tightly edited, with short paragraphs and plenty of headings. Of course, the social media around it was also off the scale, in comparison with anything else I have done this year.

And… what happened?

It was a flash in the pan, a brief moment in sun for my blog, it was a moment very similar to what Dennis shared, it led to very little sustained engagement.


It was out of character for my blog, I did nothing to nourish this new community. To be honest, it was a bit of an experiment, I was wondering if this really works: It does, if you want attention.

Is this bad?

It’s easy to get distracted by the sugar rush of vanity metrics, it led me to think about my content. Write popular content, follow what every listicle tells us to write? It works for sure, but do I want to? Is that why I write this blog?

Posting something that was clearly so obviously designed to be popular, and different from normal made me feel a bit fake (or, to be honest, a bit of a cock!).

This is exactly the decision we make as B2B marketers.

Do you chase engagement or vanity metrics? What (or who) is your content for? What will they think? Is it useful for them?

Yes, there are some cheap thrills in popular content, but what do your core tribe, that influence, buy and talk about your product and services think of it? Are you gaining likes and shares from a transient community at the expense of engagement with a smaller group of true fans?

I suggest we focus on metrics that resonate with the C-suite, which I call ART (Awareness, Revenue, and Trust) – but that’s for another post.

In a continuation of the coincidences this morning, reading Dennis’s newsletter, when analyzing my own GA, this great quote popped into my tweet stream – I’ll leave you with this:

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Andy Warhol

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

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