November 17, 2015 2:21 pm | Thought provoking blogs |

Human team pyramid on blue background

Seasoned sales people will often tell you that selling is ‘a numbers game’. As a seasoned PR person, I’m often to be found on my soap box, waxing lyrical about how sales and PR are not the same. And this is a case in point: social media is not about numbers; it’s about engagement.

The topic raised its head in the office again today following Andrew Smith’s excellent article in The Guardian, in which he discusses why social media and Twitter “has become a social pyramid scheme whose enormous strengths are undermined by its own – our own – market-derived metrics, which tell us nothing about the quality of the experience.”

In a nutshell, Mr Smith’s article is all about how many people measure the success of their activity on social media numerically because that’s how we are used to measuring success (or failure!). And where that’s the case, he rightly points out, we become the victims of our own success because true engagement – the real value of social media in my humble opinion – becomes unmanageable.

At this point it might be helpful for context if I hold my hands up and admit to being somewhat of a late bloomer where social media is concerned. I was cynical about a platform that seemed to me to be more about sharing trivia with complete strangers that nurturing meaningful stakeholder engagement.

My opinion has changed but with one small yet significant caveat: the focus should never be on the volume of content posted or the number of followers/connections/likes secured; it should always be about developing conversations with the right people by sharing and generating content that is relevant and interesting.

Not rocket science you might think. And you’d be right! So why are so many people still getting it wrong?

The problem is that even those who understand the importance of prioritising qualitative measures over number crunching metrics still get sucked into the culture of biggest is best.

My advice is don’t worry about how many followers/connections/likes you have; instead look upon social media as a giant networking event where you research which delegates might be of interest and spend time seeking them out and developing a conversation with them.

You wouldn’t go to a networking event and measure its success simply on the number of business cards you brought home would you? So why do that online?

For me, the Eureka moment with social media happened when I began to see Twitter more like the real world. When I recognised that relationships nurtured online have value and involve real communication.

As a specialist construction PR agency, Clare PR has always kept our client base selective so that we can maintain consistently high service levels – if your time investment in social media is going to generate commercial benefits for your business you need to apply the same thinking online.

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