A Lot Of Numbers – Little Context

The whole social media spectrum is rampant with analytics. No matter what Social Media outlet you are utilizing you will find metrics around every corner screaming in your ear to get your attention. For example…

  • How many Twitter Followers do you have?
  • How many Facebook Friends?
  • How many times are you circled on Google+
  • What is your Klout Score?
  • How many times has your Page been “Liked?”
  • How many Blog Subscribers do you have?

Sadly the above serve as just a few examples. I could actually go on and on with the inordinate number of data points that exist in the social space. However I’m pretty sure that has been written about a few thousand times so I’m going to move in another direction.

Data + Context = Information

In the world of marketing and media metrics matter. It is the best way to measure ROI and therefore it is important that we know how many eyeballs are seeing our work.

The problem is the data in itself is often raw.

For instance, you are brand “X” and you pay 3 million dollars for a Super Bowl ad and you have 5 million people watch the commercial, how many dollars in revenue did you just create?

Answer: You and (they) really have no idea.

Further, even if someone sees the Doritos commercial and then goes out and purchases a bag of Doritos what is to say that wouldn’t have happened anyway?

Reality: There are simply too many variables.

Let’s Take A Step Back: Brand Y-O-U

Major brands have purpose beyond just creating revenue by doing commercials and other media campaigns. They are attempting to stay front of mind and in front of the consumer. In many ways they are building relationships and this is entirely possible when you have massive budgets for air time.

However, most of us in the Social Media realm are not major brands. We do not have endless budgets and the brand that we are most appropriately representing is ourselves.

If this is the case then the measurements we use need to be different. However, based on my observation this isn’t the case.

How Many Followers Do You Have?

It is sort of funny when I talk to someone that isn’t a big Social Media user. They ask about follower counts and when I say I have six thousand or so they are blown away. If you ask a Twitter veteran the same question they would say that is nothing.

At this point I know dozens of people with north of 100k followers. While those are huge numbers, what does that mean?

Given the fact that followers can be easily purchased for about a penny a piece, as can likes and most other Social Metrics, I’m beginning to think that the numbers in themselves don’t mean all that much.

Further followers can be gained through follow-back tools and metrics can be gamified through “Like This” tactics where someone has to like a page in order to gain access to other content in which they actually sought out.

Perhaps that sheds some light on how someone with 100, 200, or even 500k followers may share something of yours and it doesn’t receive a single RT? (This definitely happens)

None of this is to say that great metrics don’t mean great things, it is really more to say that the numbers by themselves require context to be given meaning and great numbers only mean great results if numbers are all that are being sought.

Which for most of us isn’t the case.

Why I am Here

The other day someone asked me what all the Tweeting had translated to in terms of business success. It was a great question that stopped me in my tracks.

I hadn’t joined Twitter to close business or really to sell anything; Except for myself that is. It was my desire to connect with people, information, and ideas that would foster continued growth for me as an individual.

I had always thought that perhaps some day it would amount to something tangible, but I have never directly sought that.

Perhaps I am naive, but I’m here to build relationships.

For me though it isn’t a volume game, it is a qualitative effort that cannot be measured by followers, friends, klout, pins, +1’s, or any other quantifiable metric.

I believe the value that can come out of just a few really meaningful relationships will greatly supersede the value of a massive following that is mostly disconnected.

Test This Theory: What percentage of your Followers do you speak to regularly (More than 1x a week or month for that matter)

Why Are You Here?

Social Media is different for everyone. Everyone has a purpose, even if that is no purpose.

Nevertheless, if your purpose is just adding numbers than you can count on just average results.

I liken the accumulation of large metrics with buying nice things to impress your neighbors. AKA -> “Keeping Up With the Joneses”

When I grew up my father used to say this to me about that very subject…

“People buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people that don’t care.”

In Social Media I re-purpose this to say

“People collect followers they don’t need, to accumulate numbers that mean nothing, so they can impress people they don’t know”

Greatness is built in both the width and the depth of the connections we have.

So why are you here?