Quantity vs Quality

This will probably not be a very popular post among the avid users of Twitter, FaceBook, FriendConnect and other social networks, but I have to ask: What is best the quantity of followers/friends you have or the quality of these?

I ask because lately it seems that participating in Social Media has become some sort of popularity contest, instead of a platform for socialization and collaboration.

I frequently see how a lot of people celebrate getting thousands of followers or vice versa following a thousand or more people. But come on, can you really read all their tweets and updates? You’d need to dedicate your entire day to it and I’m afraid you would not finish anyway! And please note this comes from a very avid Twitter and FaceBook user.

It’s nothing new when I say that for me, the great relevance of Social Media resides in the huge collaboration network that can be generated among users and the enormous impact it can have on your personal and professional life.

I’ve personally met more people in the last two years than I had in the previous five; and not only have I been able to collaborate with a lot of very cool people recording podcasts, chatting, delivering keynotes or even collaborating with The Age of conversation 2  a global book written by bloggers all around the world, but I’ve also been lucky enough to establish great friendships with people whom I’ve never seen or have seen very few times.

And this is precisely what makes me ask my initial question, because, How can I establish deeper relationships of collaboration if I have to try and pay attention to a thousand people at the same time?

To me, being part of the conversation means actively participating in it by adding value to it and certainly not about seeing how popular I am.

Of course I’d love to reach more people every day, but not in an empty way. I rather add something to their day, just like I’d love for the people I interact with to add value to my life as well. Therefore helping each other, adding value to one another and teaching each other something new; sharing past experiences or an inspiring phrase and an opinion about our content. Entertaining, telling a joke, cheering each other or simply having a good conversation.

And this is precisely the very basic principle behind social networks, is it not? Identifying groups of people who share similar interests and who want to meet more people and share what they know, thus establishing some type of tribe.

And there can be many types of tribes: it can be a tribe of friends like FaceBook where the basic purpose is to connect and reconnect with friends to keep each other up to date; or it can be a professional tribe like the groups in Linkedin or a more specialized tribe depending on hobbies, sports and other interests.

Still,  I am convinced that it does not matter what type of tribe or social network we want to belong to, our success will lie in the few or many interactions we have there and in the value we add to that community.

It’s like Seth Godin says in his last book, precisely called TRIBES: “Showing up isn’t sufficient. Friending ten, twenty or a thousand people in FaceBook might be good for your ego but it has zero to do with any useful measure of success”.

It might be that a commercial brand or a celebrity participating in Social Media is looking to follow thousands of people to increase their reach, but that is just a simpleton and limited vision on how to impose the dying principles of traditional media to the digital space.

It can also be that some professionals are looking to get a lot of followers to, in time, identify those who are more valuable to them. Like a good Twitter friend (who I have just seen one time and for two minutes only) told me when I tweeted this question: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Quantity takes you to quality”. And there might be some truth in his answer, no doubt.

But I rather think that the quality of our network and the quality of our contribution to it, will eventually take us to quantity.

And who knows what quantity is enough to consider yourself successful when using Social Media.

To me, if I am able to help and touch the life of even just one person a day, even if it is just by making them smile through two points and a parenthesis :), I’m as successful as I want.

Note on picture credit: I can't remember where I first got this picture a few months ago, I tried traking it's creator but had no luck, so if you happen to know who created it, please let me know so I can give him or her proper credit.

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The comments, opinions and recommendations posted in this personal blog are my personal thoughts, and doesn't necesarily reflect those of my employer.