Commas Over Comments

Most people preach that likes and comments are a great sign of engagement. I say something different.

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Most people preach that likes and comments are a great sign of engagement. I say something different.

Although I’ve had some posts go viral, I strongly believe that there’s a factor more important than likes and comments that people need to measure.

I’ll tell you what that is if you read till the end.

What I’ve noticed is that over 80% of people on social media are silent.

They don’t post, they don’t comment, they don’t cause trouble. 

They just sit there and read. Worried that if they stir something up, someone’s gonna knock on their door or complain to the social media police. 

I think it’s important to note that even though these silent users don’t talk, it doesn’t mean they’re not thinking and engaging with what they’re reading.

In fact, it might be your dream readers that aren’t speaking up. 

The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle, named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto, is the idea that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. 

I think this principle applies to social media as well. Hear me out:

First, there’s the 20%. These folks are the movers and shakers: responding in comments, messaging me ideas, and promoting my work to others. The 20% give my ideas momentum. 

The other 80% of my followers and readers are passive. They follow me and then rarely, if ever, engage.

Example: I’ve definitely only seen a comment or message from the top 20% readers of this newsletter. I know this for a fact, because if everyone that reads this article sent me a message, I wouldn’t be able to go to work. But people don’t, so it gets me curious... 

And what I’ve come to realize is that just because the 80% is often silent, it doesn’t mean that they’re not reading and waiting to take action. 

In fact, I’ve had business leaders (from big companies with big salaires) reach out for speaking and consulting because they pre-validated me by my content, but they have not been publicly visible engaging with that content.

This is a silver lining rule, because it means that even in the silence you’re making a difference.

Building Mindshare

There’s so much controversy going on in the world right now. Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask. Speaking up about mental health or not. 

And I think this has instilled a fear in people. I’ll bet that most people have opinions on lots of important topics, but they’re afraid to say what they think for fear of being ostracised or disagreed with, even if they believe in the status quo. 

But they’re always watching, reading, learning, and thinking. 

When you share your voice, you’re building mindshare into someone else’s life.

Mindshare = market share for mindsets and ideas.

Investors are focused on building market share. Writers should be focused on building mindshare.

It’s pretty cool to understand that whether someone leaves a nice comment or not, people are listening and following your work. 

For example, a lot of my inbound opportunities tend to be people that are curious and future-focused.

They’re usually well known in real life (high level decision makers, CEOs/executives, and board members) and when they have questions, they like to ask someone who they recognize and trust by pre-validating their content or background. 

And even though most high level leaders don’t have time to comment or like 24/7, they’re following along and brainstorming where there might be a valuable partnership down the road.

This is an example of one of the opportunities that has originated from the newsletter:

People are always learning and reading whether they’re making a ruckus or not.

You just have to be brave enough to get your voice out there.

No Feedback ≠ No Value

  1. No comment doesn’t mean no one’s thinking about what you said

  2. No like doesn’t mean your post didn’t resonate

  3. No immediate results doesn’t mean no long term results. 

  4. No viral posts doesn’t mean not a helpful idea to share

If you love the process, you should be able to wait long enough for true feedback from your true fans.

Put In The Time

Don’t lose heart if you’re not getting virality or impressions with your messaging. What you are doing is building mindshare and opportunities over time. 

You have to wait 6-12 months to analyze whether a daily habit is garnering results. Anything before that is too soon to tell the true impact of your actions. 

If you’ve been doing something consistently for 12 months and nothing’s come from it (no likes, shares, comments, ideas) then it’s probably time to change direction. But if it’s only been a month or two, that’s not a good enough reason to give up.

It takes seven times to remember an ad and to act on it. I think it takes 10+ times to see someone’s posts or headshot and think about them as a trustable resource.

Keep at it.

Signal Over Noise

On any given day I would rather have 5 business inquiries over email/messenger than a hundred likes on a post.

Yes, use impressions to validate your content, but listen primarily to things that align you with the right business opportunities.

I’ve heard Tiffani Bova share the idea that you should learn in public with an audience but validate with whispers from your trusted community. 

As soon as I landed a few clients and got my plate full of contract work, likes and comments took a backseat. 

Now I use them as a form of feedback for iterating on my ideas.

While I do pay attention to readers, commenters, and messages, I listen most to those that are paying with my client bill: those who are voting with their dollars instead of voting with their social media comments. 

People can say whatever they want about an idea or topic, but you should pay the most attention to those who align the most with your business intentions.


  • Are you leaning into your 20% and listening to them? What habits do you have that help you get a clear signal?

  • How is your content moving you towards your business goals?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


For anyone who enjoys Twitter and wants to create stronger signals for content, check out this Tweet curation guide. And you can also check out this Tweet thread on how to do an advanced search on Twitter:

Thanks for reading! I try hard to make it a newsletter you look forward to each week, so if you have any suggestions about content you’d like to see or ideas that sparked, let me know.

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Stay outta’ trouble and catch you next week. 

✌🏻 Joel

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