Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quantification within the Social Media; isn't that against the Point?

Earlier this week I was reading about a chap called Matt Bacak. The article in question chronicles Bacak's 'stratospheric' rise to the status of social media elite; a 'feat' achieved in only a matter of months. Whilst I personally do not follow Matt, I am always sceptical of those that achieve such extraordinarily high numbers of followers in such a ridiculously short timescale. Whilst there may be legitimate grounds for the creation of a follower base of the scale seen here, I remain dubious of the value achieved by either party. Whilst Bacak claims that this is evidence of his ability to 'walk the talk' these figures prove very little to me. After all, when was the social media overly concerned with quantifiable data...?

The truth is, the social media has never been about quantification; the purpose of engaging the customer through the social media is to develop qualitative relationships which add value to the various parties concerned. Whilst traditional professionals are likely to continue to base their organisational decision making efforts on facts and figures similar to those provided by Bacak, this quantifiable data offers little actual insight into online brand perceptions. The quality of 'followers' is of far greater organisational value than the 'quantity' thereof; or at least it should be... Unfortunately, as Bacak's article highlights, this is not always the case.

As previously discussed, I have no idea what value Bacak offers his readers, yet the proclaimed 'stratospheric' rise in the number of followers within such a short timescale leads me to conclude that the majority of these were simply 'auto-following'. If that is the case, then the value added to an organisation employing his services are likely to be incredibly low. The meaningless value of huge 'friend' lists was recently discussed in an article by Beth Harte. Followers that auto-follow are unlikely to represent qualified leads. As such, their interest in a given organisation or industry may be none. Whilst this reach may be an opportunity for an organisation to engage in brand visibility building, it is unlikely that such a strategy will assist in the development of a strong, successful brand.

At the end of the day, it is the value brought to the community that will define your social media success. I hope for Matt Bacak's sake that he offers value to the conversation...

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