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The Great Debate

August 19, 2010

Quality v. Quantity. The great debate.

More often that not, we in the social media world are being told that it’s the Quality and not the Quantity of our followers and fan base that matters. When you focus on quality it’s about finding and engaging the right individual or community.  It’s about doing your homework and listening. Listening to what individuals and communities are talking, complaining, rejoicing about and then stepping into those conversations naturally. Force your way in and you’ll get shut out and shunned before you’ve typed your next word or posted your next picture.

Picture this: You’re standing in a large room, conversations are going on all around you and then out of no where someone stands in the middle of the room and proceeds to shout out their thoughts, beliefs, opinions and messages. You’d tune that person out right? I’m sure some would do more than just tune them out.

The same goes for social media.

When you choose to focus on quality, you’re not focusing your efforts on numbers. Instead, you’re doing everything you can to communicate the right message to the right person or people. You’re doing this because you know that communicating the right message to the right person is better, well almost better, than winning the lottery. Why? Because you’ve taken the time to listen to what they need, what their interests are, what they’re concerned about and then delivered to them information that is actually useful. Do this and you’ll have a friend, a follower and a fan for life.

That’s the quality over quantity viewpoint and for the most part that is the viewpoint that I stand behind.

But there are times that I waiver and wonder if that statement always holds true. In fact, I’ve had several compelling conversations with quantity over quality people recently who’ve made compelling arguments about why it should be quantity over quality. It would be ignorant to ignore the fact that at the end of the day, numbers do and will always matter. They’re one way, an extremely important way, to measure value, importance and influence.

Picture this: You’re in the same room and you’re shouting out your message…only this time you look around and notice that you’re shouting it to the windows and the walls.

It takes numbers to make a message grow.

Today, I found myself on the quantity over quality side of the debate. Not because I wanted or needed more numbers but because I lost all of my numbers. When I checked my personal twitter account, I was confronted with something awful…0 followers and 0 following. I’ll openly admit that when I saw those dreaded double digits my skin prickled and the little hairs on my arm raised ever so slightly. While I don’t make it my sole mission to score hundreds of followers each day, I’ve worked hard, done my homework, and tweeted my little heart out to get to where I am today. When you lose that (even if you know it’s the fail whale’s fault) you realize how important and valuable numbers truly are.

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