In 2008 I was asked to attend a meeting outside London as a social media consultant to an SEO agency.
Other appointments in London meant I was going to miss the beginning of the meeting, but I was assured that would be just fine and could I still come please.
When I got there, I found a boardroom full of around 20 people. One guy had his shoes off and his feet up on the boardroom table. Despite his relaxed posture he looked agitated.
“You must be Andrew, the social media guy I’ve been hearing about” he said as he stood up. He introduced himself as the CEO of the company.
“What would you say if I told you that our last blog post got 13 views?”
“13 what? 13 hundred? 13 thousand?”
“Thirteen. ONE. THREE. THIRTEEN.”
“Ah, I see. Well, first thing I’d ask is how many staff you have?”
“We have around 50 staff in this office and another 50 or so across our other locations. Why?”
“So, what you’ve just told me is that the equivalent of an eighth of your staff have read your latest blog post. If not even your own staff can be bothered to look at what you’re producing, why on earth would anyone else?”
I didn’t need to see the blog post in question to tell the boardroom that it was rubbish. They didn’t need to see it to know I was right.
This company had been advised by an SEO agency to write a blog. They had commissioned a content agency to write it for them. They wanted me to help them get it read and shared.
“I can’t make something uninteresting popular. But if you want to make something that IS interesting and get it shared, let’s talk.”
I won a client that day.
Their next blog post got over 500 times as many views which was good for “social media” and picked up a good few links which was good for “SEO”.
It saved them 99.6% of the cost for each view, AND the embarrassment of publishing rubbish.
I still use that simple measurement today: “What percentage of your staff can be bothered to read your content?”