Monday, April 28, 2008

Social Media Has To Be About More Than Just The "Stats"

Jonathan Fields has a post called "Prove It or Lose It" on his Awake @ The Wheel Blog. In it he discusses how many people in the online world call themselves "experts" without the ability to back it up. His points are good, but I think he leaves out the middle ground which is where most people reside in the emerging social online media culture.

There is a line between someone being an “online rock-star A-lister”, “a quality resource without a big following” and “a poser fake”.

One might get the impression from his post that you need to start at the top with a huge platform or grow there quickly...less you are going to be labeled a fraud. I am not sure those are the only two options for those who blog, twit, or otherwise participate in online communities.

I don’t claim to be a social media expert, but I am learning a lot about the subject by participating in several communities. I might never be as big an online celebrity as Penelope Trunk, Steve Rubel, Hugh MacLeod or others, but does that make me irrelevant? God I hope not.

The great part about social online media is it allows everyone to have their voice. Some are listened to more often, but anyone who wants to play gets to play. By the nature of life itself, not everyone gets to be on the top of the “stats”, but if "stats" are the only sign of success then we are breeding a lot of failure into the system (think local cable access!).

I believe the advice here is not to “lie” in positioning yourself online, as you will get found out in a transparent digital world. We all learned not to lie in kindergarten (well…many of us did), and I think that using these new tools to be part of an honest conversation is always a victory….even if you do not become one of the famous ones in the social online media world.

In the end, traffic and stats are important, but just be genuine and you will do just fine. I have spent little time focusing on how to deal with growing my stats, but I do get attention for my books, speaking engagements and other accolades from my online presence. I try to deliver value and just share my points of view. My participation online is an extention of myself.

I think that many people are being scared away from social media as they think they missed the boat at being an “A-lister” with blogs, twitter, and other tools. this is too bad because these tools are there just to be a not a race to the top of the charts. The potential for everyone to succeed in their own way exists on the internet....that is what makes this medium different than traditional media. If we get focused on ratings and reach, then it is just another old media tool.

Have A Great Day.



John Johansen said...

This is a great post. I completely agree with you, just because a blogger isn't popular, doesn't mean that their insight is less valuable.

While I know that my own blog doesn't get much traffic, I still think it's valuable to help me clarify my own thoughts on the topics that I address.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of a time I was at a large gathering of new moms and their babes. I observed many of the mothers predetermining their children as brilliant and destined for greatness simply based on who walked when and how soon a baby could trade diapers for a "potty". It seemed a little premature to be ordering class rings from Harvard.

I believe the same is true for stats and online presence. My stats don't define my quality or my potential. I am new to this arena now, but not for long and I should be able to cultivate my presence without making it mean anything that I'm not an "A-lister" right out of the gate. It's not always about where you are today, but rather where you are heading.

Anonymous said...

I intend to follow up with this in a post. There's much to expand upon when considering the value of social media which optimizes that credibility we are in need of. The dawning of social media, has also created a need for a different set of guidelines in analytics. A human side.

Anonymous said...

Just in case you were interested, I wrote that follow up on his article. Hope you like. ;-)

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Couldn't agree more with this post! As someone new in the blogging world, my goal was to share my viewpoint and expertise. I wasn't wrapped up in the stats or traffic of online communities. The resistence I met by employees (and avid bloggers) was staggering. I don't twitter or Facebook or Myspace, but I still think my blog is relevant and helpful to readers. For the time being, I am going with the adage - quality over quantity!