When False Metrics Distract You From Success

I’ve been thinking of this post for a while, each time I see someone using Twitter beg for followers, or obsess over making a “monumental” post for their random tweet milestone (500th tweet! 10,000th tweet! 1000th follower! and so on). Each time I see this, I want to point out that perhaps this is the wrong metric to be looking at on Twitter.

What I mean by that is that aside from the annoyance factor of watching normally sane people grow ever more wacky about pseudo “milestones” on Twitter; there is the fact that by focusing on these false metrics, people are missing the chance to connect, to listen, to have fun, to learn. While tweeting about “what should I do for my 500th follower?”, “what should I say for my 10,000th tweet?” or “I am only 2 followers away from 200!! Help me out?” people are missing real conversations.

The only numbers that matter on Twitter (and on other social networks where you have followers and friends you connect with) are the number of good, worthy conversations you are having. These translate into real, valid metrics – conversions to sales, referrals from clients, better customer service ratings, better overall blog readership and more. Your number of followers does not matter in the big picture, not really!

It’s true that the larger your network grows, the more eyeballs you are potentially reaching. Here I stress “potentially”. If all you are talking about is your own links, or these fake milestones, or the latest bitchmeme, your network is tuning you out. I promise. It gets awfully old to follow someone who never says anything more substantial than what their latest tweet count or follower numbers are. Your network may not be unfollowing you in droves out of politeness, or in the hope that you may one day have value for them again. Eventually, they will tune you out to the point that you may as well be back at the beginning, with two followers, hoping someone would talk to you.

The flip side of that coin is that your time is valuable! @Replies may drive some people who have not figured out that Twitter is a la carte and personal crazy, but at least they signify involvement in a two way conversation. Whether you want to connect over something personal or something professional, you joined Twitter to connect, not to waste time taking into thin air. If all you spend your time on Twitter doing is counting tweets, watching fake stats and begging for followers to reach some imaginary milestone, I’d say that was time wasted, wouldn’t you?

If you never looked at your follower count or your number of tweets, how would that open your conversational possibilities? Would it challenge you to pay more attention? Would you listen more to the quieter voices in your stream to see if they had something to say? Would it make you think more about participating and being genuine? What do you think about these false metrics? I’m interested in your opinions on this theory of mine.

  • Interested in your thoughts on my theory of false metrics http://tinyurl.com/9gsh55

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  • Great post. This is something that always bothers me. I don’t care if your next tweet is your 10,000th, nor do I give a crap if you are 1 follower from 1,000.

    I was happy to see my follower count growing because it was a direct result of me actually having conversations. The fact that more people were following me told me that I was having interesting conversations and talking about things they wanted to hear.

    This was after hating on Twitter for quite a while and being pretty much absent from the community there.

    Rahsheens last blog post..Twitter Users Cling to It Like a Safety Blanket

  • Great post. This is something that always bothers me. I don’t care if your next tweet is your 10,000th, nor do I give a crap if you are 1 follower from 1,000.

    I was happy to see my follower count growing because it was a direct result of me actually having conversations. The fact that more people were following me told me that I was having interesting conversations and talking about things they wanted to hear.

    This was after hating on Twitter for quite a while and being pretty much absent from the community there.

    Rahsheens last blog post..Twitter Users Cling to It Like a Safety Blanket

  • I remember how happy I was to see you, Mona N, Pea and others over on Twitter. I don’t hate on FriendFeed, but it’s nice to have a way to find you all in both places. And what I notice are your names and what you are saying to each other and to me, not the numbers. I’m just as happy to find value from someone who’s “Twitter ratio” is 2/2 or 2/1 as I am someone who is at Scoble or Brogan levels. More importantly, I’m MORE likely to GIVE value if I talk to people, not look to the side and count.

  • I remember how happy I was to see you, Mona N, Pea and others over on Twitter. I don’t hate on FriendFeed, but it’s nice to have a way to find you all in both places. And what I notice are your names and what you are saying to each other and to me, not the numbers. I’m just as happy to find value from someone who’s “Twitter ratio” is 2/2 or 2/1 as I am someone who is at Scoble or Brogan levels. More importantly, I’m MORE likely to GIVE value if I talk to people, not look to the side and count.

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