Analyzing The Wrong Social Media Numbers

by Jay Deragon on 03/17/2011

Business managers focus on things they can measure. Income, expenses, worker productivity and process variation consume peoples attention. Everyone seems to be consumed with numbers. Many people fail to consider some of the most important issues that truly drive a business besides the numbers.

Now the “numbers” are attracting attention to social media. Subsequently everyone wants BIG numbers. Followers, tweets, retweets, blog post, rankings, Google juice, traffic and the obsession for numbers continues. While numbers are important they do not always reveal the true value being created or destroyed. All the major industries have seen their numbers go down consistently for years. Did the numbers lead them to change their course? No, it only reflected to the effect of a cause they failed to recognize.

The most important things in business are those things you can’t measure, you can’t see but such things can make or break your business.  What are such things which you cannot measure? How do you measure the value of relationships, conversations and the intangible benefit such things produce? It is the intangible things that create success but management wants to focus on results at the cost of the intangible things. Doing so destroys relationships, manipulates conversations and encourages the production of false results because that is what management wants, results even when they are false

What we learn from conversations, relationships and the intangible value we all gain from being connected with people is the perplexing paradox that many business leaders simply don’t get. The related activities of a networked world are driven by communications and influenced by information. The “result” are what we the people do with the information to benefit ourselves our businesses and our relations.

So What Really Matters?

Our new networked world has everyone chasing results, numbers. Everyone appears to be rushing to engage their markets using social technology. Advertising dollars are moving from print to digital. Attention is rapidly moving to the intangibles and engagement is free but the cost of trying to force results can be very high. Consider what results and the subsequent cost are to these actions.

  1. You can use automated technology to gain followers on Twitter. What results do you get? The need to spend more time “vetting through the useless chatter”.
  2. You can push the wrong message out to large audiences. What results do you get? A rejection by the audience.
  3. You can “play” with conversations and try and trick the market. What results do you get? Your brand equity destroyed
  4. You can push out a lot of messages. What results do you get? Labeled as a spammer.
  5. You push out fake message. What results to you get? Fake relations.
  6. You chase BIG numbers. What do you get? A lack of understanding the root cause of what will improve the numbers

Business leaders, marketers and advertisers, must learn how to enhance the relationship with their markets rather than trying to produce results through numbers. The goal is a conversation which begets a relationship that can produce results. However, focusing on the results does not produce relationships. Numbers do matter but what causes the numbers to produce the right results matters most. Don’t be misled by the wrong numbers.


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Dragos Ilinca March 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You raise fair points but I think the problem is one of education. If the person doing social media does not have the right type of buy-in at the top, they need to be chasing these big numbers.

When your boss does not understand what you can use social media for, they default to what they know best: PPC, email marketing, advertising, etc.

“Why are we spending time and money in social media when it could be spent doing advertising? We’re only going to spend that time if we get better results” they might say.

Until the high level people in the company understand what social media is for and support that, we’re going to run into these problems over and over again.

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