The more research I do into the stats provided by the various social media platforms, the more I think it is better to just ignore those numbers. I still think social media is a good way of putting your thoughts, ideas, and work out into the world. But judging its success based on the data the platforms give you is kind of a suckers game, not too different from playing Three Card Monte with a street hustler.
Like the street hustler, the people who set up the social media sites control the game. They decide if you win or lose, how much you win or lose, etc. And like any good hustler, they make it seem like you can win with skill and luck. They give the illusion of chance and a level playing field. It is the story they sell.
And they will let you have some small wins. After all, they want you to keep playing. They don't want you to walk away disgusted. So they give you some wins. Again, though, it is at their discretion.
Some argue that there are formulas for success, that you can win big. Inevitably these formulas involve posting many times throughout the day (which is really just spamming) and appealing to the lowest common denominator. Suddenly you are posting material you would never put on your own website. And you are not really connecting with your followers. You are just trying to make the algorithm happy.
At that point you are just an unwitting accomplice. You are the guy at the card table who is in on the scheme but pretends to be a random bystander that gets lucky. You are there to help create the illusion of legitimacy and keep the crowd gathered around.
Again, there are opportunities within this to make some connections, to get the word out about what you do (somewhat). But you are going to need to come up with your own way of measuring the success of these endeavors. The platform stats don't really tell you anything.
Take the "reach" stat that most offer. Theoretically these are the total number of people who saw your post. First, there is no way of knowing for sure. Second, did these people really see your post or did it just move past their screen for an instant? Facebook counts a video view if it appeared in someone's feed for just 3 seconds with the sound off. By that standard a roadside billboard gets more attention than your average video.
I also keep running into people who admit that they don't click on things. They read posts and watch videos, but even when they like what they see, they don't like, or comment, or share the post. Why? Because they don't have to.
So one of these people could like your post. It might even be what makes her decide to buy your album, widget, whatever. But the social media stats measure this interaction as a failure.
My suggestion is to still participate in social media, but make sure to also maintain your website and blog, a property you control. And the next time the social media platform tries to lure you into playing the "improve your stats" game, just smile and walk away from that hustler.
Facebook killed my lists. I used to have lists on Facebook that neatly organized the pages I followed. I had one for music, one for news, etc. When I clicked on one, it would bring up the posts of just the pages on that list. It would display them in reverse chronological order and no posts would be omitted. As an additional plus, no sponsored posts showed up when I did this.
This functionality was part of Facebook. It did not take a special hack to create this.
Yesterday they all disappeared. Now I am once again at the mercy of the Newsfeed. Yes, I can select "See first" in the follow settings for the pages. I can also turn on notifications so that I am alerted whenever one of these pages puts up a new post. But doing that for every page I follow would make things kind of a mess.
It is disappointing because I am probably going to miss out on some interesting posts, posts I would have seen with my lists.
It is also a reminder that no social media platform belongs to the people who use it. Make sure you maintain a website and blog. You need an online property your followers can count on.
(Hire me to develop your online content. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Social media stats are nice to look at. On rare occasions they are helpful. But if you are basing your worth on those numbers, you should find a good therapist as soon as possible.
There are a number of intelligent, creative people doing interesting work. But when these people get on social media many of them revert back to high school. Suddenly they are just copying the "cool" kids (some of whom are actual kids) in a desperate attempt to be popular.
"I know it doesn't say anything about the technology we are developing, but I was told memes with unicorns are hot right now."
I don't think that is how you find your genuine fans. I think that is how you show the world that, after all these years, you are still trying to be the prom queen.
Admittedly I don't understand the appeal of live video on social media. And it is not just because most live videos are really boring.
I love DVRs and the ability to watch shows when it is convenient for me. I don't want to go backward. I don't want to schedule my day around when someone else is broadcasting. And live video on social media is kind of a step backward.
Right now live videos are being made not because people have something interesting to say or to show but because the various social media algorithms show favoritism to live videos. And people like to see those reach numbers increase.
Thus ever more content is being released that is not intended to engage people but to engage lines of code within a computer somewhere.
Before the Internet, I would dig for interesting reading about musicians in newspapers, magazines, and books. I was curious about the stories behind their songs, what their writing process was like, what they did differently from other musicians, etc. Sometimes it was in a cover story and sometimes you really had to search for cool material.
Now we have the Internet and social media. Each band has its own online magazine.
And I have to work even harder to find interesting reading about musicians.
Because most musicians don't post about their music or what they have learned. Instead they just post about what they are wearing, what they are eating, and photos of highway exit signs.
And the same thing is happening in the business world.
There is a lot of hatred being expressed online. Here in America it has become one of the national pastimes, right up there with baseball and Type 2 Diabetes.
Fear of this hatred seems to keep some bands and businesses from posting anything more in depth than "Sometimes I'm in the mood soup." It is the online equivalent of being simultaneously out in public and in the Witness Protection Program.
Unfortunately this strategy does not do much for building an engaged, interested following. Although it might be of help to the soup industry.
The more I learn about social media stats, the more I think you should not pay attention to them. Yes, I get excited when a post gets a lot of likes, comments, and shares. I'm sure there is a dopamine connection there. But when you make big numbers the primary goal (or tragically the only goal), you become a slave to that platform's algorithm and your post quality takes a nose dive.
Yes, a great post can get great stats. But a great post can also get poor stats. A great post that really resonates with someone and convinces him or her to spend money on you sometimes gets amazingly weak stats. And sometimes a post that gets great numbers does nothing for you.
If you want to post something silly, that's fine. But do it because it reflects who you are or what your business is about. Don't do it to make some algorithm happy.
I know bands comprised of interesting, intelligent people. But they post dumb stuff that has nothing to do with their music or who they are because the dumb stuff gets bigger numbers.
However, if I told them to stop writing their own music and just cover Taylor Swift songs, they would be offended. And yet, if they just care about big numbers, they should just do Taylor Swift songs.