There are many ways companies talk about their customers online: users, followers and page views are three that come to mind. Sure, these phrases are convenient sometimes, but when considering your online strategy, they can be dangerous terms.
Social media is about quality, not quantity. And yet, when we move our businesses online via blogging, social media, video, etc – people often default to the most basic ways of measuring their success. It’s all about the numbers, and more is better.
And that’s just silly.
If you are a niche publication, do you want 20,000 people delivering 30,000 page views to your website, or just the 1,000 who care passionately about your industry, and spend their budgets with the brands that you cover? You know, the people who will actually sign up for your newsletter, comment on your articles, email you with follow up questions, attend events that you do, and are shaping the industry that you love.
Sometimes, to feel professional and like adults, we talk about those who read our stuff as “users” or “page views.”
But do you have an amazing conversation with a “user,” a “page view,” or a “follower?” No, you don’t. Is this how a business is built? Is this how a community is created? One ‘user’ at a time? Nope. That’s how FAILING businesses are created. There is a difference between a group of people standing around next to each other, and a community.
When building your brand online, consider ways to segment your audience. Who are your tightest connections – reaching out to you again and again, engaging with you, sharing what you do?
What segment of your ‘traffic’ is a mistake – people who came to your website via Google by accident and left after 3 seconds? They aren’t a part of your community. Those page views don’t count.
This is how web stats lie – not because of the numbers themselves, but in how we use them. Web analytics can be powerful tools, if used properly – but often not by focusing on basic metrics about quantity.
Twitter follower counts are misleading. Do you know how many of your followers are spammers, people who follow 40,000 other people or who haven’t logged on in more than a year?
Do you know who are your most valuable Twitter followers? Do you know why?
The goal is not to view web stats to increase the quantity, but rather, decrease it. Find ways to segment and segment until you are left with a core group of people who care desperately about the things you do. This applies to your Twitter followers, to web analytics, to the many ways you measure performance online.
Then, focus intently on those PEOPLE. Engage with them – the targeted few, not the masses who never really cared about you and what you represent. Consider how even if you identify 300 core people who follow you on Twitter and love what you do – that even they might break out into 6 distinct communities, and that you may serve each one differently.
When you walk into a restaurant, do you want to be treated like a ‘user.’ Or do you want to be treated like a valuable customer – someone who wants to have a great connection with what is being offered. Do you want to be just another number on their daily ledger, or do you want to be Norm from Cheers – where everybody knows your name?