Today’s social media focused world is really cut up into two sides. One side is where much of the hard work, tough questions, and moving of needles reside. Those people who are looking to help further the industry, build strong communities, help innovate, and are genuine in their actions. While on the flip side, you have the people looking for shortcuts, the easy road to infamy and a legion of thousands that they probably don’t even know. The people who think it’s a numbers game.
But before we go on, take a quick look at this video of Seth Godin:
That 1-minute video sums up a lot on what people have mistaken in this hyper-connected online world. The need to increase the number of friends, followers, and fans you have. Even #FollowFriday, which started off as a great community-driven meme that allowed us to recommend and follow new and interesting folks on Twitter, has declined as there seems to be less and less relevance to the recommendations and has become a free-for-all to nominate/follow people, without the explanation as to why.
I know we’ve had similar talks before but what struck a chord with me was when Mashable reported that Facebook Fan Page URLs would be available to those with at least 100 fans. Since many pages hadn’t hit that number yet, Mashable decided to help out by letting the community post their Fan Pages so people can check them out and become ‘fans’ to help those pages get to that 100 fan mark. What I found disconcerting about this was the way people were building their communities, just to reach a superficial goal – a vanity URL. Are we helping people out? Perhaps. But not to their goal of building a thriving community page, instead, to reach a goal on the number of fans they have. I understand that people have a choice with which Fan Pages they join but 480+ links later, it’s become a link-whoring post more than anything.
Personally, I see nothing genuine in building your community by participating in a link-a-thon, which unfortunately furthers the assumption, that social media is about the numbers and is what drives success. Sorry, but it is and will always be about the relationships and subsequent conversations that go on with yourself and those community members. And what determines the success of your community is not the number of fans or followers you have, but the specific measurables you can pull from your communities, showing that it has made a difference for your customer service, business development, etc.
You’re not doing it for the punch line, you’re doing it cause the act of doing it is so beneficial.
Seth goes on to say that the superficial side of social networking is a waste of time – and he is completely right. Vanity URLs aren’t going to benefit you and neither are those fans that you obtained without putting in the hard work and dedication towards your community.
So, tell me this. What are you doing to activate and build your community? Are you focused on the tiny details of vanity URLs and increasing the number of people in your community at the snap of your finger? Or are you more intrigued to move that needle, shift communication upwards, where people not only benefit from the platform you’ve built, but find value with other members who are there to help you reach your goals?