Part 5: Remedial Math for Internet Haters

Nothing makes us titter like people getting mad that they didn’t get enough likes on something. What will make us howl even quicker is people who think getting a lotta likes on something means anything either, or as a measure of their popularity! Then when we want uncontrollable belly laughter that might make us wet our pants we watch the big internet companies report on their “user” numbers.

Cover_Everything you need to know about publishing-alt crop

What you’ll learn in this installment:
  • Vanity metrics hurt & often kill dreams
  • Your paying attention to all the wrong things
  • Use this simple trick to see clearly
  • We all hate math, hence the dashboard
  • What they can’t or won’t tell you
  • Why all analysts are liars

Stop counting [on] likes & views

This goes for retweets, reblogs, impressions, reach, or any of the other names these easy to access numbers provide. They very literally mean nothing. Reminder, you can be internet famous & get spotted slinging hash at the local diner, with no money in your bank account. All the while getting tons of likes & views on your latest Instagram post.

When you see an article quoting someone’s overall followers, know they are completely full of crap. You know who has a huge following? God. Yep the Twitter joke account. But better than him, is an account which just says the most inane things, perfectly timed, often a simulation of some other joke with just a slight twist. A million followers and growing, thousands of interactions within minutes of being posted. The joke is that they often seem funny just coming from someone in the avi.

No visible means of monetizing it, just someone recycling jokes to millions of interactions, for no other reason. That is the standard held up, oft quoted, and one people can never attain. Until of course they do. Whoever runs either of these accounts, does no obvious sponsorships, but can somehow continue to exist and be viewed (in screenshots) on all the other platforms.

Why throw pearls before swine?

Conditioning of social media has created this very strange economy of attentions. To  “play the game” you have to give away some bits or pieces, and get people to like it. That seems a bit bizarre when considered outside these platforms. It feels repugnant to artists and creatives like ourselves. So often we are asked to do free work for exposure or on a consignment basis. As such, naturally this approach makes everyone rather wary. If you do use social media for promotions, it is to affect one of two positions: HEY LOOK AT MY STUFF! or a reflexive nonchalance that always seems like they can’t be bothered.

Both are terribly ineffective. Even as you could fill up the comment section below with people who seem to be doing well with just those approaches. They can get tons of likes, lots of share, and still not sell a single thing.

However the only thing that matters is the engagement. This can be comments, that express interest, could lead to a sale or connection. It can be in a piece that gets someone to contact you directly for commissioned work, or other opportunities. These are your goals. Nothing else matters.

Why that number doesn’t matter

Take the number of likes, then divide by the number of followers. Number of video views on Facebook also by the total likes. Each of these simple things will show you what relative weakness they each bear. So 1.5 million followers and only has 2k in likes or RTs = 0.002% of the people thought this worthy of ‘engaging’ with (some of those possibly doing both). Yet neither that like or share equals a sale. It just in some way tells you that they like on some level what you are posting. Not what you are doing, because those retweets, or shares might be to make fun of it, critique it or further calls-to-action.

a recycled joke_pakalu papito (comp)

this tweet had 0.0126% engagement at best

When you process social selling data you realize that a 1% engagement rate is incredible. That conversions and funnels and all these other things regular people don’t think about are other considerations. Manage your internal expectations, while also setting expectations for those you are sharing with. A nod at the screen doesn’t register, or a view alone.

Yet here we all are, listening to the media when they make narratives around the hottest thing because they got the attention of the ‘entire’ internet. Usually the result of our ability to gawk at kittens, silly & superfluous junk. It is filled with tons of recycled jokes, bon mots, or streams of thought.

Which leads the average onlooker to think that they are indeed in fear of missing out. That they aren’t doing it right. The above referenced tweet is just one of many, and all getting huge engagements for absolutely no reason. That percentage would be even more diluted if we cancelled out the people who both retweeted & liked it at the same time.

You can’t drive 55!?! Are your blinkers on?!?

Every one of these social media platforms comes with a dashboard, and the number of third party ones grows everyday. Each of them measures using a wholly different measuring system, weights certain things in favor of others, but still basically performs the same thing the Nielsen ratings do.

You as a viewer care very little for how many people in today’s landscape are watching what you are. It matters if you want to talk about how much you like it, or how excited it makes you. Otherwise the ‘ratings’ are there so networks & platforms know how much to charge their advertisers to deliver in the 18-49 age range. They use it completely to target.

Likewise, you need to think very clearly about who you are targeting, which channel or platform to use, and then how that message you prepare fits into the scheme of what happens there naturally. You don’t when deciding whether to buy x over y, think about if everyone else is watching or liking it either. That may be a part of the conversion process, but usually a very small one.

Reminder of what is real in all this irreality

Think of how many TV commercials you have seen. Quantify it if you dare. From a time when you could scarcely even realize it to now. Then think of how many “ads” you’ve seen online. That is impossible. Yet we’ve a little tool that tells us how many of the most obvious we have avoided. As power-users of the internet this number is over a half a million in the past four years. Or on average 159,000 per year. 435 a day have been blocked, and we are thankful for Ad-Block, each and every single moment.

Now a few years back, it was all the rage to create plug-ins that change baby pictures in your Facebook feed to kitten ones, or to block mentions of the Kardashians with something inane. We do this because, and oft in direct response to, how much of what we see is worthless? A great deal.

Cutting through the noise to connect

Be yourself they say. Post on [these] days for best success. Make sure you are always doing __________. Try this new hip app, platform, etc… it worked for us.

There is only three things you must attain: Consistency, Clarity, and know thyself and thy audience. With the latter being the major key. Knowing who will buy and support you and crafting a consistently clear message to them is your only priority. You can post brain-farts, silly pictures, and all that other stuff as well, but it is all for naught if you aren’t also plainly & clearly targeting the people you need to.

Don’t be yourself, be better. Know more about who you want to purchase your work or hire you for that next gig. What any social media expert can tell you is limited to their area of expertise. Which since there really isn’t a school they all go to, an accreditation, or indicator of some foundational school of thought to benchmark it against, it is easy to say they are all making it up.

Some better than others, most barely trying. What works today will not work tomorrow, as it changes entirely too fast for their to be any real rules.  So what there are in place of those are some best practices, ones that take into account the area of that walled garden that you are posting on now may not be found by search engines, and that you are best having a plan that isn’t specific to one platform. The goal is accessible to all.

Your art, content, and brand depend upon you taking all that into account. That your target isn’t on one site, versus another, is key to considering where to put your energies. If you don’t at least ‘squat’ on the others you can be blindsided by someone faking your persona and capturing all the wrong attention. Even ruining your hard work by diluting the brand. These sites do not care if they are impersonating you either and clearing things up requires energy you alone do not have.

When found, does your product, art, or brand  translate to their needs and target? Found you on Twitter, but I’m really a Facebook type. Let me see what’s over there. Think like this, it is the only way.

Your art is shared all over Tumblr without attribution, what do you do? Someone clickjacked your hashtag, and you can’t do anything about it? Why not? If you’d thought of these possibilities in advance then you’d already have a plan, and support in your followers to level the playing field.

Not that, focus on this!

Yesterday a former client was discussing looking at their “Analytics” ~ Google’s confused them so they opted for a third-party easy to read dashboard. Letting them talk about what insights they gathered, and how it was all pretty useless was informative. Then when directed to the obvious flaws existed, what they as a layman might have no clue about, because assuming like everyone else that it was there to show you what mattered was crucial.

You as a small blog, writer, creative, should never worry about your page views. There are three reasons: robots, bounce rates, and not knowing why they are there. So you want to know what they want? Well this client said looking at the “Google Search Terms” depressed them for valid reasons, but it was easy to explain to them that really didn’t matter, and hasn’t for years. The privacy act in Europe, Incognito browsing, and such make that only relevant if you are curious about capturing SEO and are advertising. Which makes all of these “tools” useless on some level because you aren’t probably advertising.

You are hoping for “free advertising” that is why you are looking. So you must look at very different things. With Part 6, and the next week of posts will focus solely on are looking for KPIs, in web marketing lingo that is ‘Key Performance Indicators’ the intelligence you are looking for is there, not in these marketing tools for advertisers.

Part Six→

PS: Sorry for the delay in this portion, the rest are outlined and mostly written so the next several days will feature a post everyday and finishing with approximately 25 for the month. Thanks for reading! Leave comments below↓
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