Maturation of Social Understanding

Just a drop

In the early stages of experimentation with Social Media, either for business or personal use, there is often an overemphasis on the most visible metrics associated with activity on a certain network or platform. This might be friends or likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, visitors to a blog, or connections on LinkedIn. While not entirely unimportant (potential audience is certainly a key component of some very essential and actionable metrics) – these numbers by themselves are not particularly useful. No two followers or friends or connections are created equal. The upside of this type of attention or activity, is that people in this stage are beginning to consider that which can be measured… which in time leads to the more pertinent question – what should be measured.

“Not everything that can be measured, matters and not everything that matters can be measured.” ~Albert Einstein
Once this early fascination with somewhat trivial metrics passes, the next stage is often a relational stage. At this point, the transition is from how many total connections are made to the specific types of connections. In its simplest form, this equates to either “meaningful connections” (i.e. two way relationships) or “meaningless connections” (all the others). While still incredibly crude, this is a step in the right direction. The acknowledgment is made that relationships have different attributes – characteristics that make them either more or less salient for a given objective or investigation.
An unfortunate mistake is often made at this point regarding further measurement and analysis as it pertains to Social Media. Many people stop here and begin to regard only the intangible and less measurable characteristics as important – transparency, purpose, and authenticity for example. Now let me make it clear – these are fantastic goals – and not to be dismissed lightly. But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because there are things that are difficult to measure in Social Media, does not mean that one should give up the pursuit altogether.
Beneath the surface of Social interaction (be it digital or physical) – there are a host of incredibly interesting and useful metrics – all very measurable and actionable. However, if we stop at the intangibles, we miss the value (business, social, etc.) that can be derived from them. So, my deep urging, is that instead of “moving past” metrics, we instead evolve with our deeper knowledge of Social Technology. If you’re interested in the challenge, welcome aboard! This world – of deeper and more interesting data analytics applied to Social, is the exact playground of Ressive Networks.
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  • Adrian Swinscoe

    Hi Matt,
    You have written an intriguing post that alludes to the deeper metrics that we can measure and how that can give us insight and understanding of the networks around us. I am now intrigued and look forward to your developing thoughts on this.


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