Social media comes with the endless debate about numbers, which matter and which don’t. It does not matter how many people follow/friend you or subscribe to your feed, it does not matter how many visit your site, what matters is what they do. Who cares you have 30,000 followers if only 2 ever retweeted your stuff? Numbers can be bought, they hold no value.

You’ve heard all this before. But apart from the obvious, in-your-face truth – 5000 followers that RT you constantly and answer your questions, ask for your help, turn into leads and buy your products are certainly more valuable than 10,000 passive ones – when did these statements become about envy? When did the sour grapes replace thorough analysis and measurement?

Let’s face it people, to some extent, numbers do matter. If  you’re Vodafone Romania, have millions of subscribers and in a year and a half of Twitter presence (with a social media dedicated team, albeit small) you only have 3000 followers, that’s an almost OK result of sorts, but not something a senior marketer should brag about!

If you are happy with the about 1000 followers you as an individual or company have, with the few hundred likes on Facebook and the few dozens of circle inclusions on Google+ (hey, it’s new, ok?), that’s fine! But don’t go boosting a better than though attitude to those who think a 5,000 limitation is too low!

If you’ve been in the online communities for a while, you might have an idea who Chris Brogan is. I absolutely admire him and what he does and he always amazes me with his social skills and apparent ability not to sleep at all. He’s got a problem with both Facebook and Google+ because they have a not surprisingly similar limit of 5000 contacts per account. He fixed it on Facebook with a page, which as he pointed out, might seem a bit impersonal, and he is looking for a Google+ solution. Although he has quite an impressive following on any networks he sets up shop on, no one occasionally interacting with him would ever dare say he only cares about the numbers and not the value and the relationships.

So imagine my surprise when I noticed some comments stating it’s good numbers are limited, people will finally focus on value!!! Are you for real?

The harsh reality is every marketer out there, every PR person or social media guru or however you want to call someone handling social media for a company wants the big numbers. I wouldn’t mind having 1 million likes on my company’s Facebook page or on that of my travel site! I don’t invest much time in any of them because I care more about client work, but I would love it! Maybe I am just looking for attention, or maybe I am smart enough to know that big numbers are not without value. Sure, it takes a larger team to interact with people and create valuable relationships with them, but having more connections does not turn you into CNN’s twitter stream that just posts news and speaks to no one!

Moreover, people use social media for different reasons. Some just want fresh content, news and events and are not there for the interaction. If you tell them the people or companies they keep an eye on are bad at social media and do a bad job with what they post, what do you think you’re saying about the their followers who find their social messages useful? Aren’t you alienating them?

In social media measurement, a lot of numbers matter. It matters how many people want to see what you have to say, it matters how many think what you say is worth sharing with others, it matters how many buy what you’re selling. Some numbers matter more than others, in certain circumstances. Beyond that, it’s all relative. And like it or not, some people have enough capital when it comes to their online brand to just show up, act like a diva and still get millions to love their every word! That’s just life and it should not turn into sour grapes. It should turn into inspiration, lessons and better strategy for the rest of us!

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