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Social Media Bottlenecks: 54% of Professionals Experience Communication Breakdowns Between Businesses and Agencies



social media bottlenecks

There is no secret that working in the social media field is not a child’s play. The demanding clients, frequent algorithm changes and the daily struggle to keep engagement rates high can really place a high tool of even the most experienced social media manager. 

This is especially true in uncertain times like these when all brands need to worry about crisis management. Most people working in social media agencies will have to face certain bottlenecks and overcome them as fast as possible if they want to succeed as social media specialists.

In order to pinpoint these social media bottlenecks that usually happen between businesses and agencies, the team at Socialinsider has conducted a thorough social media survey, with over 320 professionals pitching in. 

This data can be used by agencies to automate key processes, discover the industry benchmarks and find innovative ways to better manage their resources and time.

Whether you are working in social media for an agency or you are employed by a corporation, the information presented below is detrimental to your success in 2020 and beyond.

social media bottlenecks
Main Social Media Bottlenecks

The Challenges of Generating Sales

Probably one of the biggest challenges social media agencies face is to translate their social media efforts into actual sales and return on investment (ROI). The client’s focus will also be on sales and ROI. 

On the other hand, the agency needs to take into account several factors.

This bottleneck is quite common nowadays, with over 35% social media managers who responded to the Socialinsider survey claiming that they have a hard time delivering on sales. While views and conversions may be instant, conversions take much longer. This usually happens because social media is a medium perfect for boosting brand awareness and interacting with the target audience, instead of conversion. 

Granted, social media interactions should play a key part in the conversion funnel and are usually rewarded in a linear attribution model. However, companies have to understand that they should perceive social media campaigns as a long-term investment in their brand and not as immediate means of getting conversions. 

During a crisis, time is of the essence. However, communication with customers is more important than ever, despite the fact that results might not be immediate.

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In order to overcome this bottleneck, social media professionals have to make their clients understand that they need to consider potential leads as anyone who engages with their posts. For example, if certain users keep leaving comments or liking posts, the company should either contact them privately or simply create dedicated lead ads for them.

Of course, while providing tangible ROI can be quite a difficult task, professionals should create bespoke performance reports that are tied to the client’s KPIs and goals. Each goal should be personalized to the unique needs of the customers. 

When customers understand their goals and can see an estimate of how the agency can achieve these goals, they become easier to manage and begin to realize how things work in the social media world.

Communication is a Big Problem

Over 54% of respondents to the study, which is more than half, struggle to make their clients understand the true value of their investment. Communication is a huge problem especially when it comes to setting a budget.

Bluntly speaking, social media managers have a hard time convincing their partners that they need to invest more money in social media if they want to expect good results. 

If the results are lower than desired, it might mean that businesses have to invest more money, use advanced automation tools, create a strong business strategy, have in place a customer care plan, and also focus on audience and retargeting campaigns.

Additionally, another major issue is setting up a proper customer care strategy. Without it, most of their social media leads could go away, or go cold. To make it easier to convert, positive reviews online and promptly responding to prospects’ questions and queries can make a difference.

Businesses and Agencies Perceive Social Media Metrics Differently

Some metrics are more important than others. However, many clients fail to understand which metrics are truly important in social media. This is how the next bottleneck starts to reveal itself. There is a global misunderstanding that happens when businesses fail to grasp the importance of metrics that are valued by SMMs from the agency. This bottleneck is directly diet to the two bottlenecks presented above, such as communication and the need to generate sales.

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For social media professionals, the most important social media metrics are engagement rate per post, followed by comments & likes per post. The third spot is total reach, while the fourth one fans or page growth. On the other hand, clients and businesses have a totally different opinion on the importance of goals.

Social Media Metrics for Professionals
Social Media Metrics for Professionals

First, they are impressed most by page growth or the number of fan growth, they by comments & likes, followed by engagement rate per post. The bottleneck that SMMs have to overcome at this point is clearly explaining to business owners that the average engagement rate per post is considered to be more important than the number of new fans or page growth. 

social media metrics for clients
Social Media Metrics for Clients

A complete monthly social media report should include growth, average engagement and reach, together with information about the audience, clicks, number of comments and of course conversions. Side by side comparisons are mandatory, especially when these show constant growth in key areas.

Spending too Much Time on Monthly Reports

Over 51% of respondents to the study by Social Insider declared that they create monthly reports for their clients. However, over 55% said that they take around 4 hours to create a full report. 

While the importance of monthly reports cannot be minimized, spending too much time is not a good practice. Far from it, it represents a bottleneck that affects a growing number of social media agencies. 

time spent on reports
Spend Up to 4 Hours on Reporting

What’s even worse is that around 31% spend between 4 and 10 hours on the report, while 14% spend a whopping 16+ hours. This is a huge bottleneck that is affecting the performance of social media agencies and is taking a lot of precious time. The best way to overcome this bottleneck is to leverage the power of automation wherever you can: analytic tools, publishing tools, reporting tools. etc.

Investing Resources in the Right Platforms

Lastly, social media experts are facing an interesting bottleneck, by not knowing on which platform they should advertise their clients’ businesses. Normally, the client asks for recommendations from the agency when it comes to advertising mediums, so the agency needs to be prepared with a complete list.

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You need to be able to identify the right social media platform that you want to use for each customer. To overcome this bottleneck, you need to start by understanding the pros and cons of each social media platform. 

 For instance, Twitter might work better for companies in the US & UK, so you should probably not use it for a Russia-based company. On the other hand, you should advertise Russian companies on VK and other local platforms. 

For B2B sellers, LinkedIn and Quora work best, while B2C retailers can make the most out of paid ads by using Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

According to the survey, over 320 social media managers, specialists, and directors have chosen Instagram and Facebook as their main platforms, but the efforts and resources allocated for promotion on these two platforms are being reduced in 2020.

For instance, Instagram, a platform used by 71.5% as primary in 2019, has gone down to 68.6% in 2020. Obviously, due to numerous scandals and a lack of profitability, Facebook also decreased in the preferences from 66.4% in 2019 to under 49.6% in 2020. 

Social Media Platforms
Interest in Social Media Platforms

While Facebook and Instagram are the only two losers on this equation, the other top social media platforms seem to be doing just great. LinkedIn grew in interest from 27% to 37.2%, YouTube from 14.6% to 30.7%, Pinterest from 8% to 18.2%, and even Twitter enjoyed a small growth from 17.5% to 22.6%. The big surprise comes from TikTok and Whatsapp, two new players that will grow from 4.4% to over 18%, respectively 2.2% to 10.9%.


Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”


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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

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Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.


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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

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Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is




MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

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Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

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The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s John Mueller was asked if “brand mentions” helped with SEO and rankings. John Mueller explained, in detail, how brand mentions are not anything used at Google.

What’s A Brand Mention?

A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.

Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.

There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.

John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?

The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.


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The person asked the question:

“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”

Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions

Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.

Mueller explained:

“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.

And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”

That part about it being tricky is interesting.

He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.

Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness

Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.

Mueller continued:

“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.

And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”


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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic

Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.

The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”

Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.

John Mueller explained:

“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.

Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?

Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?

And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…

All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.

…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”

Where “Brand Mentions” Come From

The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.

There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.

However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.

There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.

There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.

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The patent itself is about ranking web pages.

The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.

The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:

“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”


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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.

Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).

In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”

The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.

So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.

In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.

What Is A Reference Query?

A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.

The patent states:

“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”


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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:

“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.

…search queries including the term “” can be classified as referring to that home page.”

The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.

“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”

The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.

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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.

The patent states:

“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”

It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.

Idea of Brand Mentions Is False

The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.

But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.

Plus John Mueller confirmed it.

“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.


Ranking Search Results Patent

Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark

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