Quantity versus Quality in monitoring social media

That question  is  a recurring theme and a critical question in social media.

As an introduction,  here are the key expressions (*) mentioned in the Social Marketing Community when talking about “quantity and quality” (**):

It’s interesting to see that:

  • time & work are high up in the list.
  • many expressions are around seo, link building but also content.
  • twitter and  facebook are frequently mentioned, and so are followers … but not friends.
  • a significant number of expressions around business, strategy and influence.

The consensus is really that it depends on your business objective.

In listening for example, we tend to learn more by focusing on a few people, influencers in your community, and going deep; sometimes by listening to millions of people.

Something subtle though … (that is linked to the Dunbar number).

When you see two individuals, and increase the group  to four or ten over a period of time, you will still be able to identify the two individuals.  There is a threshold however, where you no longer see individuals but a crowd of anonymous voices and a river of noise.

You may spot a few conversations that are really loud and negative. But you wont see how close these detractors are one to the other, whether they are scattered among the community, whether they are surrounded by many others.

You will fail to notice that these conversations come from people who have been strangely silent for a while, or were interestingly talking together prior to starting shouting.

You will not see that these detractors belong to a specific market segment, or worse that they are users of your products & services 🙂

I find it amazing that marketers engage in large listening efforts without differentiating users and non users, or buyers and non buyers.

Listening is only valuable when it provides insights at the individual/target group level else this is just noise.

Otherwise, it’s as useful as to predict the popularity of the Giants based on the number of people wearing orange shirts on the planet.

(*) I removed quality, quantity and social media to increase legibility

(**) using Conversation(tm).

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