Lijit Audience Analytics

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Numbers Game VS. Warm Connections - Which Is Right For You?

A colleague of mine and someone I hope considers me a friend, Stan Faryna, pointed out that my article Tell A Friend: The Magical Power Of Ten came off as a rather bold statement.  It seems that in all my zeal I inadvertently discredited some close friends and colleagues, folks that are true heroes in my book.

Well, for that, I deeply apologize.  Let me reiterate: 
For those of you in my inner circle that have worked hard to develop a powerful personal brand and massive audience, I have no doubt that you worked hard and honestly to do so.
Now that we have cleared the air a bit, I will say that I do stand by my beliefs.  I feel that many so-called "gurus", experts, thought leaders, and influencers are mainly just broadcasting and spamming.  Maybe they got lucky or maybe some folks stood by them in spite of their selfish ways.  Who knows..  We're not here to talk about that.

Here's what I have found: some play the numbers game and others focus on warm connections (a.k.a. engaging, unmarketing, and caring).  While the numbers game is not always about spamming or insincere communications, I feel that it is more of a grind.

If you're into gambling, perhaps comparing this behavior to playing roulette may make more sense... 

[ Source: ]

Let's use a social media example.  If you play the numbers game, you're sending out automated tweets and broadcasting to a large audience.  With all the stuff on Twitter streams, the chances of someone seeing your particular tweet is pretty slim. The average Twitter stream moves at around 30-50 tweets a minute at peak times and it gets crazier once you follow over 1000 people!

That scenario, in my experiences, is certainly more akin to playing roulette.  You keep playing until you "win".  Chances are that, by the time you finally hit, you barely broke even (or are still in the hole).

With that roulette-style of marketing and communication, there are too many variables to know if you just had good timing or amazing content..  Or maybe something else.  With all the tweets going out there, having your stuff noticed, let alone acted upon, is tough. 

Now, if you take the time out to really connect and interact with people in more deep, authentic, and meaningful ways, you may be added to a Twitter list or be set up as an alert/notification.  For most, that takes time and perhaps it's more time than folks are willing to invest but consider how much more you can get out of a relationship where there is more of a give and take.

I don't know about you but, if I'm going to gamble, I want to go with something that has better odds of winning. 

Efficiency And Productivity When Communicating
When I look at the elusive numbers game I look at behaviors and activities that are usually not very efficient or productive.  You can't always measure the value or "ROI" when you are communicating, sharing, storytelling, or networking.  Measuring Social Media ROI is a tricky task (just ask Eugene Farber).

Going deep (SEE the #infodoodle here) has worked for me in my many life pursuits, not just business.  Some have great results going wide so, again, I won't dismiss the value there.  I suppose the real questions here are: 
  • How much time can you invest and what is your time really worth?
  • Are you getting the results you want with that investment?
  • Is your current approach sustainable? 

If you like your answers, stick with what you're doing.  If not, consider focusing on your audience one person at a time because  that may create more avid fans, close friends, and consistent supporters.  The alternative?  Grabbing a megaphone and hoping someone pays attention (here's the issue there: others are doing the same so all the messages become noise).

What Is The Right Way To Engage?
Engagement means something different to everyone but, for me, I look at the spirit of servitude and going the "extra mile" for people.  It's about remembering the little things, even when our schedules may be a bit too hectic to afford that extra time.  When you show you care, others care.  It's about being remarkable and memorable.

The path you take is up to you.  You can certainly play the numbers and still engage people in big ways.  Dave Gallant has some good thoughts on this that I think you should check out.  The conversation there may be more helpful than my ramblings here.  Ha!

Moving on... 

It may be worth noting that I was able to pull my score on my recent contest efforts over at in the last few days by using the 'ol going deep approach.  In fact, I saw better results from that than broadcasting and leveraging big players in social media.

By asking a few friends to share a simple call to action with their friends, I went from fifth place to third place almost overnight.  I could have gone further had I not been diverted by the daily hustle-and-bustle of work-life stuffs..  but that's pretty compelling, if you ask me!

I've included some extra reading material to give you a more balanced view of the issues at hand.  The decision here is a tough one.  I'll leave you with this: don't be quick to be impressed by folks that have huge followings, tons of comments, and other big numbers - that does not necessarily mean they are influential or even significant!

I say that because I know it can be overwhelming to feel like you're a little fish in a huge lake.  The reality is you may be a big fish in a small pond or a medium-sized fish in a medium-sized lake..  Well, you get the idea.

Whatever you do, don't let the numbers rule your behaviors.  Let your principles guide you, my friends!

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2 comments: said...

"Don't be quick to be impressed by folks that have huge followings, tons of comments, and other big numbers - that does not necessarily mean they are influential or even significant!"

I hope that you do know that I agree with you- especially about numbers of followers, comments, and ranking. [grin]

Check out what I had to say to Saul on the issue:

Maybe you feel the same way. I think you do, Yomar. The original vision of Triberr is beautiful, good, and true in a manner of speaking. Dino and Dan's interest in building a platform for community that allowed us to engage with people and effect new connections with the world as opposed to being herded through the noise to fewer destinations, less people, and less think. said...

In my previous comment, "ranking" should have been "visits".

Anyway, the air conditioning died this afternoon and I'm out of cigarettes. I'm a little grumpy, tonight.

I hope that you know that I wasn't offended by your post about the power of ten. I was more worried about the problematic that online influence is unpredictable and ambiguous.

"Online influence" as a term, like every other internet buzzword, tries to cover as much ground as it can cover by implication and suggestion. [grin] The concept of the "influencer", however, had humble expectations in the pre-Twitter conversation. Influencers, for example, were once defined as online agents who shared their views with 10 or more online agents. There was no strong expectation the sharing led to further sharing (geometric amplification) or action.

Klout and the gentleman from Osaka, however, strongly suggest that influencers are more relevant than they are. But just put a big shot influencer in a popularity contest up against a mommy blogger with 10k readers/month, for example, and the mommy blogger will bring home the bacon (popularity votes) almost every time.

Warm connections often out perform celebrity.

One of my concerns is related very much to community. Relevant communities will exercise their will by execution of sheer numbers to effect outcomes, to make opinion, and shake a stick. Maybe, we have to think about how to structure the power of ten (or twelve) into the cornerstone of online community.

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