Social Media Stats are Useless

I do social media all day.

Which means that all of the myriad social networking support groups and blogs and websites and feeds that I follow each come out with their annual statistics on the size and scope of social media and what trends are coming and who’s swinging the most wood after raising Series C funds. And there’s usually a drop-shadow-less infographic that tells me some tip about how to make my pins more pin-tastic and that 65.4% of all B2B partnerships thrive due solely to LinkedIn conversations.

And I read them all. Because it’s my job.

And I’ve yet to glean ANYTHING useful out of them.

1,440,000,000 people on Facebook. 77,600,000 Instagram users in the US. 4,000,000,000+ views on YouTube every day.

Lovely. Wonderful. But what does that do for my organization? Nothing.

The problem comes down to the maturation of social media. When the field was young and needed to prove itself, it sold eyeballs. How many people can see your posts!? Follower counts were like gold. Every time the “Facebook nation” rose up the ranking list of most populous countries, we forwarded those stats to our executives and pleaded to stop being kept from the promised land.

But now, when I post to Facebook, when I want to talk to the 3,876 people who have taken a half a second to click that happy thumbs up icon on our Page, when I have something that could potentially save their lives, their health, their humor, and/or their sanity, I’m lucky if 387 people ever see that post.

Sad Clown Mark Holthusen Photography. Photography by Mark Holthusen

Maybe I’m not as funny as I think I am. Maybe not.

Today, though, I’m not concerned with how many people could see my posts. Telling me there are 15,000,000 pairs of eyeballs out there waiting for my posts doesn’t do anything for me. Because I know 15,000,000 pairs of eyeballs aren’t waiting for me.

What’s waiting for me are the twenty people in my city that are thinking about quitting smoking today. Or the 4,000 people that would be interested in free yoga on the Parkway. Or the 150 that need to be reminded not to leave their kids in the car because it’s 95 degrees out.

We need new metrics on engagement and interaction. We need new advice for today’s social media. So I call on you, Social Media Expert/Maven/Ace/Superhero Person/Group/Blog (honestly, I tried so many combinations there, but they’re all already taken by real people)! Instead of selling us on how to get 10 zillion views using your One Simple Trick! on social media, help us learn how to find the right people and get the right people to ENGAGE with our social media.

Until you guys start doing that, I’m swearing you off. I’ll make my own damn social media best practices that work for my audience.