Metrics matter. As Peter Drucker said, “What’s measured improves.” But when we’re measuring, we need to remember that value has multiple definitions. Per Merriam-Webster, value can be both the amount and the usefulness of something: quantity and quality. This is certainly true in the world of social media. Yet two stories we read today infer many digital citizens seem to have forgotten the second half of the value equation.
Mediabistro posted an article about the practice of faking a large Twitter following. It includes an infographic from Who Is Hosting This that outlines who is likely to purchase followers (celebrities, startups, bloggers and job seekers), how much it costs to buy followers (.01 cent per follower), and the risk of getting caught (breached trust, banishment from social platforms).
Alex Beam has a column in The Boston Globe about the practice of buying Facebook friends – even the State Department has been accused. Of course, some fake followers aren’t bought, they’re made. Beam references a statistic from web consulting firm Incapsula that 61 percent of web traffic is generated by non-human entities known as bots.
Likes and clicks and followers and friends are only half of the equation. If the people behind those numbers aren’t engaging with you and your content, your social media efforts will add up to nothing. So take a deep breath, calm down about your RTs and likes, focus on compelling content and then share this post with all of your followers. Just kidding! As Beam writes in the Globe, “It’s unlikely that the digital dead have much interest in what I’m up to.”