The Often Misleading Path of Numbers in Social Media

The ongoing joke within my circles is that I seem to tweet all night. There is some truth to that. However, I’m not always up tweeting on my own timeline. The fact is that I have a secret life that I rarely, if ever, discuss as a social media manager for a few “high profile” accounts.

For over two years, I’ve posted tweets, blogs, responded to fans and even purchased followers. Yes, this practice most certainly does happen. I even have a weekly report that I submit to their managers that itemizes “the data”. They want to know about crowd interaction, search terms, time spent on pages, retweets, favorites, follows and unfollows. I also have to be mindful of the “heartbeat” of their brand…what twitter thinks.

Why is this important?

In the popularity-driven culture of entertainment, their livelihood and commercial earning power largely depends on it. The numbers are so important that their entire “message” shifts at times to cater to them…numbers.

This is why I know for a fact that following numbers can present a false reality. It’s the part of my “hobby” that I dislike most.

Numbers and EDU

When I talk to people about twitter, I always stress the unimportance of numbers. You don’t focus on followers. You focus on the conversation and your own professional growth. Be intentionally wise with your words and share yourself while expecting nothing in return.  This is the same advice given to my non-edu clients, however something always changes that. It’s that same something that changes teachers from being focused on what matters to being focused on “being flown to the next event.”

When the conversation shifts from discussing matters of student learning or policy to who is the “most connected”, I no longer want to share those conversations. When the tweets of fabulous educators shift from being about the wonderful ideas from their classrooms into an influx of “in your face” tweets of self-promotion, it kills me a bit inside.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully acknowledge the doors that have been opened for some because of their social sharing…myself included.  However, I have more respect for doors that led to a platform for change over those that led to the “numbers focused” change in the educator.

The moment that we started qualifying ourselves based on quantitative data like the number of followers, subscribers, readers or even podcast listeners is the moment that we decided that not every voice mattered…not unless “data” supported it.

I tend to lean towards leaving the “numbers talk” to those guys who worry more about the human capital that they “collect” versus the humans that they inspire.

I’d rather that did not become the existence of social media EDU.

I would love to hear your thoughts.



Comments 2

  1. I will admit that I have been guilty of this – focusing on the numbers and not on the people. I was overly eager to become connected, to be a part of the “in crowd” that has seemed to crop up around what is now come to be known as “twilebrities”. But then something happened… In fact, it was a discussion with you at ISTE before I was supposed to give my Ignite: “It’s about the people and the conversation you have with them.” I knew then that you were speaking about more than just the 5 minutes I would be up on stage.

    With that in mind, I reevaluated my place in EDU-Social Media. It was a much needed step back. That’s when I realized that it’s not about how many chats I participate in, how many followers I get, and how many people tweet a #FF mention with @MsRossEnglish in it. What matters is my personal and professional growth and what I DO with the learning I gain from the fabulously brilliant minds of my PLN.

    At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many times someone tells you how “amazing and awesome” you are. What matters is what you do with your brilliance. Do you spend it frivolously on gaining Twitter followers and trumping up your “twilebrity” status? Or, do you spend it richly on positively changing education and the people that matter most: other teachers, parents, and, most importantly, students.

    Thank you Rafranz for putting to words what has been tearing at my heart as well. And also, for putting it more eloquently than I did above.

    1. That was the post eloquent comment that should have been a post in and of itself….that I’ve EVER read!!

      I wasn’t always wired this way! I think that we all have had our moments of “caring about numbers”. Amidst NDA forms, insane conversations and my “Are you kidding me?” moments of my “secret life”, I’m pretty stoked that the frivolity of those moments really did prepare me for my own connected life. You know me Carrie. I’m all about being authentically true to one’s self. Be the best of who you are. Learn. Grow. Take it back and share with someone else.

      Most of us are doing this with fidelity. That’s the good thing!

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