Self gratification from strangers will always be an empty pursuit. Building an audience you care about is where the reward sits.
There is a fascination with size in every corner of society. The visibility of social media means that we are continually looking to prove that we are worthy and proof that other people take us seriously.
The lure is on every corner, where chasing followers is seen as valid measurement tool.
You can download vector images thanking you for size…
You can record a video telling everyone how popular you are…
You can even publish an ebook on the lessons learned from mass acceptance….
You can tell everyone how speechless, humbled, thrilled and that the world is a better place because strangers are in it.
Where It All Starts…& Then Continues
It all goes back to being at school. Scientists have identified two types of popularity. In childhood, our popularity is defined by how much we are liked by others. The popular kids at school are those who help others and cooperate. In adolescence, popularity reflects our ‘status’ more than our ‘likability.’ Accord to psychologist Mitch Prinstein, “The markers of status—visibility, influence, dominance and power—all activate the social reward centres in our brain and change our relationship with popularity forever.”
Today we can easily achieve status such as more followers than someone else and the desire for other people to recognise this.
Amanda Smith, or rather @wanderingggirl, and her travels to stunning locations across the globe, attracted 31.4k followers and she followed only a handful of people from Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Michelle Obama. The thing is she never really existed. However, deals were offered within a matter of weeks.
Marketing firm Mediakix highlighted in August the ability to set up two false Instagram accounts (one of those Amanda Smith), pay for followers, likes and comments and made a profit. All for the investment of a couple of hundred of dollars and a good resource of photos. The first post was 3rd May and the final post was on the 10th August.
The point I am trying to make is whilst marketers are heavily spending on Instagram influencer ($570 million on Instagram in Dec 2016, according to eMarketer), the gluttony that is derived from volume is more present than ever.
It’s Like Roundabout Advertising
Thanking people for volume in spaces that are not theirs, to people they don’t know, is the free version of advertising on roundabouts. It was done for the indulgence of someone else (someone who was willing to waste the money), when everyone else is watching the road and the 16 point font size website address isn’t the most important thing when looking to move from first to second gear and whether it is safe to move forward.
People like to keep score in public. So much, so they are ‘humbled’ when they reach milestones. However, one thing that you never see mentioned are people shouting about the number of email subscribers they have. These are normally under lock and key of the Mailchimp ‘list’ and away from a social profile page. Either these are a fraction of what their social profile proudly declares to be, or even non-existent. As long as Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, can continuously feed the ego and present more numbers, it becomes an addiction to a lifelong membership to a dick waving competition.
Just because someone else has volume on their side, doesn’t fix a bad product or service that aligns itself to nobody. However, we now live in a world where a few Twitter followers, a grey icon where picture should go and a handful of tweets that link back to a company homepage, has a detrimental effect on how a company is viewed.
To many businesses, they look to a quantifiable goal, this always points to something that is measurable. 100 more followers next month is seen as a result of something working, rather than the interaction and the growth of an audience.
This is also seen in the annual B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report where website traffic (another quantifiable goal) is recognised as the main metric for success.
What About You?
Being popular and thinking that successful measurement is determined by size in a space that you have no control within (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc), is a dangerous place to be.
The opposite side of the coin, is to be encouraged, enthused and thankful, when you have volume within a space that you have 100% control of, namely someone giving permission for you to maintain a dialogue when you are always in the driving seat. By this I mean permission in the shape an email address.
It is healthier to switch the dogged pursuit of people from someone else’s space to your own.
- Just because you have 3,000 LinkedIn followers, does not mean that 3,000 LinkedIn followers are going to see your post at the same time. For instance, I know five people I was connected to on LinkedIn who have died since January 2016. Just because you posted, doesn’t mean that everyone is else is logged on at the same time to see your post, or as active as they once were.
Alternatively, if you can control the dialogue and maintain the conversation on email with those who are tuned in, it creates a much richer experience. My day to reach out to everyone at the same time happens to be 7am (GMT) on a Thursday morning.
- Organic reach is continually spiralling, even Facebook said this back in 2012 that around 16% of the people who follow you will see your posts. It makes complete sense, in order to play by someone else’s rules you have to abide by their rules or go and find somewhere else. They are not bothered about your business.
You have to accept the law according to someone else, or you can adapt. If you can build your own audience then your website becomes the living heart beat to your ongoing look on the world and the role you play for others. It doesn’t have to be restricted to the font size that someone else dictates.
- Volume should not be the measurement, it is how we make others feel and then how they act. When you send a post on a channel that is not yours, you are fighting to be heard with everyone else that is calling it home. Whilst it cannot be questioned that it helps us with reach, the depth has to be the interaction with someone else who steps forward.
If you can document and express yourself within your website, you have freedom. If you have have curated an audience who visit, interact and share, then you are in a strong place. In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, the pursuit of numbers, “only matter if the audience actually cares and actively consumes your content.”
Size Doesn’t Matter When You Have Nothing To Say
Stating to others that you are ‘thrilled to reach xxxx connections,’ does not mean anything if you have nothing to say or meander from one topic to the other.
You need to deliver, not sit back and bask in your self made glory. You can’t think of people as numbers or in the B2B world ‘contacts,’ but by being bothered about the people who you connect with and identify ways to bring things to a more personal level. In my case, it is the You Are The Media | Lunch Club and the You Are The Media | Conference, in 2018. To a company such as Bare Collective, it is bringing people together to go for a walk on a Friday afternoon.
Rather than putting the megaphone out and telling everyone about size, sometimes we need to turn the megaphone round the other way and care about the people who are in your network.
A sense of achievement and telling others how popular you are, is like that warm sense of accomplishment when reaching 10,000 steps on a Fitbit. In reality this was based on just one study of Japanese men from 1960. Research last year by the University of Pittsburgh concluded that people who used a wearable device lost less weight than those undertaking standard weight loss techniques. However, seeing the ‘you did 10,000 steps today’ is intended to give a sense of self satisfaction, when in fact all it represents is an empty acknowledgement.
The answer has to be a shift in mindset from mass acceptance to one that can lead and empower others, centred on trust, with the intention to create profitable action.
Lets Round Up
The pursuit of popularity represents us all living in a world of ‘radical loneliness,’ in the words of Pope Francis.
If you can switch the focus from collection on someone else’s turf to one where you can nurture and build your own community helps create stronger companies.
This can lead to a much more engaged audience, where you can direct the flow, value and interaction. It’s you at the front of the orchestra, rather than having a go with a baton for two hours.
Connecting with the right people is vital if you are intending to make a longer term dent in your marketplace. The social media presence that you create is intended to represent your brand and to also stir a discussion and a dialogue.
Success has to be when you move away from status and align your message with the role that you provide others and highlight the bottlenecks that happen within your world.