Social Media Continues to Miss the Mark: The Overemphasis on Popularity
It’s been years now since I first became frustrated with people working in the social media / blogging world who put an overemphasis on popularity as though they were snotty little schoolgirls. Back then it was more about all the blog “influence” lists or rankings based on faulty metrics (like the Power150 or Edelman’s social media index). Things aren’t any better today I’m sorry to say. In fact, they’re worse.
I came across an article this morning on Twitter that discussed how companies are overvaluing Facebook “likes.” And I agree with that completely. In the end a “like” doesn’t equal a customer. It doesn’t even mean you have a lead. Hell, I could “like” a $40 million dollar mansion or a $10,000 designer dress or the new 2011 Porsche 911. It doesn’t mean I’m in the market for it. I could “like” a website after reading one good article, and not give two shits about ever going back there. In the end, a “like” means very little.
Actually, a “like” is just another way of whipping out your trusty litter ruler to see who’s bigger than who. It’s not new. It’s the same thing we see with Twitter spammers — the type who follow tens of thousands of people they know they can’t realistically follow because they’re hoping to either get or keep followers of their own. It’s all about who appears to have more friends, fans, followers, or whatever you want to call them today — who has the biggest list. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter.
Large generic groups of people “liking” you or “following” you aren’t nearly as valuable as a smaller group of people with a genuine and regular interest in what you have to say, sell, or do. But somewhere in this social media mix we lost the concept of targeting. And over the years we’ve failed to get it back.
At this point I’m little more than embarrassed for the “social media professionals” that participate in these popularity contests or convince their clients that they should care about them. It’s no wonder social media’s taking so long to be adopted fully as a normal part of business. They’re still missing the mark. And who’s actually benefiting from the hype around these popularity-based lists, “likes,” and such? The social media sites that came up with (or stumbled into) friggin’ amazing linkbait tactics to drive their own traffic.