By Callie Oettinger | Published: March 25, 2011
When I was twelve, counting my age in silverware got me to the end of my unloading the dishwasher chore: five forks, five knives, two serving spoons and a butter knife to grow on.
When I was in college, just over a thousand steps, counting every other time my right foot hit the ground, got me from my dorm near the corner of Mass Ave. and Beacon St., to classes closer to Beacon and Berkley.
When I run, 450 steps, counting every fifth time one of my feet hits the ground, gets me to the one mile mark.
These days, counting followers, friends, likes, and visitors is getting me nowhere.
I keep hearing people say they need to increase the numbers. The numbers are being used to gauge worth.
Did you know that Charlie Sheen set a Guinness World Record for “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers” on Twitter? How many of his followers are there for the long-term? And how many are hoping to catch a train wreck?
As I write this, 37,808 people are in line for Scott Forstall’s first tweet. Ad Age‘s article “Your Followers Are No Measure of Your Influence” turned me onto Forstall’s stats: thousands of followers, listed almost 2,000 times, is following one person (Conan O’Brien) and has (drumroll please) ZERO tweets. So people follow him for what he might say on Twitter, based on what he has said/done elsewhere.
More words of wisdom from Ad Age: Your brand’s fans and followers may not only be disengaged, they may be comatose—or literally dead. A little freaky—your followers might be six feet under. . . .
So is there another way to measure Influence?
We can think of many other ways… such as measuring the “personal bonds” between members of a family, team or group of friends, which explains why close ones will always bear more influence than stars and celebrities of any kind… or measuring the “passion” that some individuals may have for an idea, activity or cause – something others will feel and respond to… or the “thought leadership” of those who project authoritative points of views and can ignite ideas or debates with others.
When I was a kid, friendship pins were popular. Almost every girl in my third grade class had five-to-ten bead-decorated safety pins dangling from her shoelaces. Then there was Stacy, who had a gazillion. She was super popular and everyone liked her, but we all wondered how she ended up with so many.
Back then, we whispered a bit, but we all brushed off the numbers thing, and ignored how many she had because we were her friends and that’s what friends do. It’s kind of like what Thomas Moradpour was saying, about personal bonds being important.
But now, when I see all these numbers and I have no personal bond, all the people and the brands look like Stacy’s shoeful of fake friendship pins and those TV gameshow doors, which keep you guessing about the value behind them. The doors look the same, but is there a new car or a pile of crap on the other side?
When I first joined Twitter I focused on getting my numbers up. And then I stopped, realizing that I was doing what Stacy did—upping my numbers to create worth. And in the process, I was creating useless noise. It’s like being in a crowded nightclub, where everyone talks just to talk, because the quiet is too uncomfortable. What if the focus was on content and not numbers? I’m thinking Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman are right: Content Rules! (thank you David Reich for the head’s up on this one).
Am trying to count passion and creativity instead of numbers these days. Counting has moved my life along, as long as the focus is on more than the numbers. Ready to get back there.