Twitter recently cleaned up its database, removing a large number of spam accounts. Good. Down with spam, most of us would agree.
But many Twitter accounts lost some percentage of their followers as a result of the change. A hue and cry has sounded from some Twitter users who "lost" some of their social media street cred as their scorecard has been diminished.
But do you really need a scorecard to participate in a conversation or multiple conversations? For what? Personal glory? For bragging rights? You only need a scorecard if this is a competition.
Legitimate business goals may include accumulating fans, friends, or followers, but the impact of those followers is the true goal, making the followers a means to an end -- not the end itself. Social media seems to have descended into a personal popularity contest with thousands of self-proclaimed social media gurus all vying for our attention to their every thought and insight. Does it seem a little desperate to anyone else?
The real gurus don't exude this desperation. Even if they post every hour or even more often, they provide valuable content or comment thoughtfully on someone else's thread or tweet. That's true of both their personal musings as well as their professional insights. It's just who they are.
In what other digital arena do we measure ourselves by our ability or proclivity to attract attention rather than produce solid results? Does anyone ever really use those measures except for ego gratification? Would you choose your business or media consultant or search or e-mail or creative partners because they had the most followers or pushed out messaging of questionable or irregular quality on a regular basis?
For that matter, would you choose your doctor, accountant, lawyer, or banker because they proved capable of accumulating the attention of strangers? It seems like a misguided and immature game some play with the end game being the scorecard, not the contribution. So how do you tell the difference between a passionate practitioner and an ego-driven pretender?
This isn't to taint those who have legitimately accumulated large followings. It happens. Good for them.
But what are they going to do for you? Buyer beware. The self-proclaimed social media guru may have impressive stats, but those stats won't bring you results.
So what happens when the channel becomes too focused on personal gratification and quantity over quality? We get digitally unhealthy. We need to focus on quality conversations through appropriate channels.
In the same way consumers have tuned out ad clutter, have we created a false benefit for those who contribute to conversation clutter? Or are they really only talking to themselves? How can we possibly sustain quality conversations with thousands of people across millions of blogs or microblogs?
There is no one right way to participate in the social Web and I don't claim to have all the answers myself or for the industry. Quality conversations can be defined in many ways and can include what you ate for breakfast or where you found those cute shoes just as legitimately as anything else -- depending on your audience's expectations.
If this comes uncomfortably close to your behavior online, please evaluate your approach to social media. If it isn't producing something of value beyond a scorecard, know that the scorecard is worthless and we all know it.
Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.
Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.
June 20, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT