Why Numbers Alone Don’t Matter

Everyone is caught up in numbers and metrics. Some metrics are dead on and others wecan do without. Two such metrics people tend to get caught up in revolve around thenumber of friends/followers and the number of tweets.

Why are these numbers not as relevant as you may think them to be?

 

Don't Cross the Streams!

 

Number of Facebook Friends or Twitter Followers

Having a large following is a nice topic to throw around in a conversation, but does itreally help you? Many celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, industry experts, authors, and manyothers have a pretty strong follower count which helps from a message push or listeningperspective. Now, look at how many people they follow and see if you are valued in theirnetwork.

Probably not.

It is great for them to push out their information and hope you will share with yournetwork as well. Good for them. Not so great for you.

This is in no means a recommendation to follow everyone who follows you. But withall the “social media experts” talking about engagement, do they really engage or justengage when spoken to? Think about the last time someone with a high friend/followercount interacted with you off of one of your messages without you mentioning orreferencing that person.

 

Number of Tweets

The number of times you tweet should not mean a thing? Why you are probably asking.

Well, as Twitter is an unbelievable tool for conversations, learning, listening, sharing andnetworking, it also is a great tool for connecting with apparently every other social mediatool created.

You may connect Twitter with LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare (and other location-basedservices), Tumblr, MySpace, blogs, etc. etc. etc.

The more networks you are connected to, the more potential of redundant message beingposted, of locations being shared, of somewhat meaningless data.

Should I be able to read all of your tweets on LinkedIn or Facebook? You could argue oneither side of this and make effective cases. What I am saying is that it is some of thesemessages are redundant, auto generated and used to somewhat spam all of your socialnetworking channels.

When I view my Twitter stream, I don’t care to see all of the Foursquare check-in’s. Iknow I am not alone here but I also realize plenty of others share the opposite feeling.

But in strictly looking at Foursquare and Twitter, it is conceivable that half of your tweetsare Foursquare check-ins. That alone artificially inflates your tweets to show how active aTwitter user you are.

Other people/accounts use messageing services that auto tweet for them and possiblyrepost the same message multiple times per day (full disclosure: yes, I sometimes do thisfor my blog posts… but not every day and for everything I read).

 

In closing, numbers really don’t mean everything if value isn’t there. Isnt’ that why ROIis always an interesting discussion point!

Reality of Influence

Influence appears to be one of the topics of 2011. As Klout secures an additional $8.5 million in funding means that enhanced metrics are sure to follow. But what does influence really mean?

Klout provides a fairly detailed overview of how they measure influence which is a starting block for this new metric. While measuring influence is still in its infancy, but rapidly developing, what does this mean for you?

When you login to Klout for the first time, connect all of your social networks and click the “measure” button you wait eagerly for the results. Logically, it will lead to three emotional reactions:

-1-     Happiness

-2-     Disappointment

-3-     Who Cares

 

Happiness

“Yes, my score puts me as one of the most influential people in the online social webs!”

This might be the reaction of someone seeing a top score return. This is a metric you would expect to see from a Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Godin or another of the like. This will be someone who has 5-figures of followers and is viewed as a leader in their space.

Others will get to this status as well depending on their personal or business niche. Is it possible to get to this level without thousands of followers? Sure. But it helps to be followed by people with thousands of followers too.

 

Disappointment

“I really thought I would score better than a 36.”

What if you have 300 followers on Twitter that you are really active connecting? This score may return lower than someone who has thousands of followers and but is re-messaged less than you. You could argue over more influence but you network numbers may not compete.

An interesting question may arise, would a negative or lower-than-expected score impact how you use social media going forward?

 

Interesting

“But what does it really mean.”

Brian Solis wrote an interesting piece last year regarding the Influence Project put on by Fast Company. The post basically said influence is not popularity… which ironically was the name of the article.

This group might find the results interesting either way but not put much stock in the numbers, it’s too early to truly tell what this means.

Personally, I find myself in the “Interesting” group. I believe Klout – or similar metrics – are on the right path but not to a particular accepted standard. I am skeptical over influence. Damien Basile wrote an excellent guest post on the subject on not confusing influence and popularity.

What if a friend/follower reads something I post and does not repost, comment or retweet? I may have influenced someone but because it was not shared further it hurts my number? Also, if I do not connect all of my networks it will impact my overall score. There are still too many variables to consider for this to be a truly accurate measuring tool.

Influencing metrics is currently subjective, no matter what science and math you wish to put behind it. In time it will become more accurate and grow into something robust but it still needs time and adjusting.

I do use Klout but as a snapshot in time for me. Using it fairly regularly it could provide trends and analysis to my network and how I connect with my friends/followers. But I do not put more recognition into this tool than that.

Please share your feelings on Klout or other metrics tools, I am very interested in hearing your impressions on the metrics of social influence.

 

 

Photo credit to BplusD and Servant of Chaos.