Cultivate Community, Not Likes

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You see, I’m learning, very (too) slowly at times, that my very best and most important work is not related to how many people I can impact through social media but rather my investments and commitments to the few people in my life that I can impact with maximal effect; those that I have direct and relationally-bound influence.

I read the above quote by John Saddington, a web developer on Pugly Pixel's blog in January (the original blog post no longer exists) and it really struck me.

Funnily enough this quote comes from a piece about quitting social media. Obviously, I'm not promoting quitting social media. That's not something I would ever promote (I don't think.) mainly because social media has changed my life so much. No, I share this quote because it outlines something that I have thought a lot about this year: focusing on one's current community and letting go of unrealistic expectations around social media numbers.

As we get deeper into the social media age we seem to have these impractical expectations about social media numbers that concern failure and success. Letting likes, shares, retweets, favorites, etc define our worth, and in turn causing real anxiety that in some ways can hurt our output for our business. But when often in reality having X amount of likes doesn't actually translate into anything other than likes. Only sales translate into something: dollars.

Cultivate Community, not likes

Social media is about business. It's about driving sales. It's about brand reach. These are all important and necessary goals. But when we start to focus on arbitrary numbers of how many likes or shares we get we lose sight of what's important and we start to share in a noisy, chaotic way.

So, I ask this of you: focus on the community you have at hand. Take time to engage with those people. Create meaningful content and conversation that resonates with you and those that follow and actually engage with you. They are your champions. They are your evangelists. Then focus on the numbers behind those posts - your website stats, sales, and actual engagement with real life customers. These are the variables that matter, not a like from someone who might never buy your product.

P.S. Anil Dash wrote an excellent piece on why having over 550k followers isn't actually all that, and discusses a lot of what I touch on above. Recommended.