It was a question someone asked me quite some time back. The immediate answer that jumped to mind was the obvious choice. The number of people following me. It seems to have become the most important, talked about, single measurement of social media success. I once heard a radio interviewer talking to a phone-in listener commenting on how successful they looked on Twitter based on how many people were following them. The numbers of favourites (now likes) and retweets I also considered as measures that I knew some people used.
It wasn’t till a few days later when I thought more about this. I questioned what it was all about anyway. It’s not about numbers and large followings or fan-bases for me. Nice if it happens in a humble way, but not something personally I chase. Instead, my social media purpose is about conversations, connections, networking, learning and sharing. Those things aren’t measured well by quantity. It takes a quality measure. I reminded myself that I already measured quality in a particular way. I’ll come on to explain that in a short while.
But let me first frame the problem I had with my thinking back then. The problem for me is that my mind had immediately jumped to the quantative measures that we use when gauging our social media success. Then only later, had I considered quality as a second thought. Completely the wrong way around I think. For some, I guess not, but for me it just didn’t and still doesn’t make sense. Quality has to come first. That is if it really is about connection, value, dialogue and relationships rather than crowd-sourcing, audience building and climbing the leaderboards of popularity based on measures of how many people follow us and how many people we follow back.
What I think now, is that if I’m only going to pick one measure, quality or quantity, quality has to be the one I choose. I could do both. But if I’ve only got space to really focus on just one, quality has to be that one.
So how do you measure social media quality and therefore if that’s important to you, your social media success? There’s a couple of ways I do this. Firstly, my gut feeling and own anecdotal experience together with feedback from trusted contacts on how I’m engaging on social media are useful measures in their own rights. But there are also numerical social media engagement scores available to help. For a couple of years, I have used a free scoring system called Klout. If you’ve not come across this, it’s basically a score between 1 and 100 that represents your influence across several social media platforms. In my case, I contribute 70% of my Klout score from what I do on Twitter and around 15% from You Tube and Linked In. The more influential you are, the higher your score. Influence when it comes to social media according to Klout is, ‘…the ability to drive action’. They go on to say that when you ‘Share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence.’ Klout and similar measures look at the conversations you have and with who and therefore the quality of your interactions, rather than the number of people that follow you and who you follow back. Much more of a quality measure I think.
Now, I’m not always about the influencing. If I can influence and for the good, then that’s great. But I’m very much happy spending the lion’s share of time being influenced by others and the great work they do. I learn lots here by listening to the lists I follow and joining in the discussions that take place. I dare say my own engagement contributes to helping the quality influence scores of others too.
But what is really interesting is that since I’ve shifted the way I use Twitter my Klout score has climbed. Not only do I feel more engaged and have the feedback of others to say that’s the case, the numbers seem to point that way too. This is shifting the quantity ‘timeline’ focus to #0following with lists focussed on connecting with individuals, groups and communities for quality conversations.
Whether it is quality, quantity or both you’re looking for, let me know if I can help you too.