The results of a recent tweet:
Crickets. No clicks, no engagement, nothing. Did anyone even see the tweet? Twitter’s analytics dashboard tells me some of my tweets receive less than 100 impressions. Given that I have close to 7,000 followers, that’s discouraging.
Given results like this, it’s easy to get discouraged. Here’s why.
My day job as a marketer makes me data-driven and results-driven. Looking at my personal Twitter account with a Marketing lens, I think about where I can optimize. If optimizing doesn’t move the needle, then I ask whether to focus my time on other things.
Lack of Progress is Discouraging
Occasionally, I’ll hit it out of the park with a tweet. But for the most part, I’m hitting weak grounders to shortstop. Making an out.
At the plate, professional baseball players fail most of the time. But they accept that. On social media, we’re less patient. While we want to continually drive in runs, the reality is that most of us hit below .200.
Is Anybody Out There?
If a tweet falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, was it a waste of time? I tweet to provide interesting content to others. If there was no one on the receiving end, then it wouldn’t be worth sharing.
That’s why metrics (like those shown above) are discouraging. I found an interesting article, I tweeted it and 44 people saw the tweet. But no one clicked or engaged with it. Was it worth my time? Read on to find out why those 44 impressions may mean all the difference in the world.
It’s Important to Keep Trying
“Dark social” is a term coined by Alexis Madrigal to reference hidden measures of social sharing. It’s sharing whose data is not captured and tracked. If you tweet an article and I share the link via email or IM, then that share is not captured by Twitter’s analytics.
My Term: Dark Impact
What I’ve come to discover is this:
Dark social also encompasses the hidden impact of your content. I call it Dark Impact.
Your content can have an impact on people, whether they share it or not. Some personal examples follow.
Recently, I saw a close family friend whom I haven’t spoken to in 10 years. Her first comment was, “I see your posts on LinkedIn. I can almost hear your voice in your posts. I learned a lot about what you’ve been up to.”
Via LinkedIn, she was able to learn about my job changes, as well as understand my current interests.
My friend never once interacted with my LinkedIn posts. I had forgotten we were even connected!
But there sure was an impact to my shares.
LinkedIn, Part 2
At a neighborhood block party, I chatted with neighbors who happen to be retirees. I’m connected with them on LinkedIn. At the block party, they told me they enjoy the content I share on LinkedIn.
One neighbor commented to another, “You should connect with Dennis on LinkedIn for the posts that he shares.”
Another neighbor sees the content I publish via LinkedIn Publisher. “I read your post on LinkedIn. I can’t believe your’s was right next to one by Arianna Huffington,” the neighbor said.
Without speaking to my neighbors, I would not have known the impact my LinkedIn activities made with them.
I had no idea they read my LinkedIn Publisher posts.
Twitter and Blogging
At meetups and events, I’ll meet someone who says, “I think I recognize you from Twitter.” They had seen content that I shared, or saw retweets from users with large followings. Once, I met someone at an event who said, “Aren’t you the person who blogs about virtual events?”
Remember the 44 impressions I mentioned earlier? NONE of the people behind those impressions engaged or interacted with my tweet. But SOME remember me simply for the fact that I tweeted.
The tweet may have been meaningful, it may have been irrelevant. But I tweeted. And as a result, I was remembered for it.
My Twitter and blog metrics may show low clicks and minimal engagement.
But it’s making a difference with someone, somewhere.
What to Do?
Keep trying. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Share useful information. Whether you realize it or not, you’ll make an impact.
Next, leave home and get out of the office. Meet new people and network. That’ll help connect your social media activities with the people you’re impacting. It’ll shed a light on the dark impact.