Defining the Metrics of Success, Twitter ed.

I wanted to title this week’s post, “‘I’m such a loser’ and other thoughts about Twitter” because that “losery” feeling descends upon me anytime I check my account. Followers are constantly coming and going; my tweets are unfavourited as easily as they’re favourited; in the end, I just don’t get it. While I’ll readily admit that I’m not the best or most prolific user, it can sometimes be demoralizing to see throw-away accounts gather more followers and traction than I could even imagine. In other words, I love Twitter, it just doesn’t love me back.

Some people will ask, “why do you care?” or “what’s the point of all these ‘likes’ ‘favourites’ and ‘retweets’?”. The simple answer is this: when I generate content whether it’s on this blog or my other social media accounts, I’m doing it so that I can build a community and I seek what so many others seek: engagement.  I want to know that what I’m doing means something, to someone, however remote. It’s not to suggest that I, or anyone, should tie our self-worth to other people or our social media presence, but the fact is that we’re all a part of this social web because we want to be heard. But how do we define success in this realm? Is it the number of followers, favourites, or retweets? We know that high numbers don’t always equal engagement. Is it the attention a tweet, individual, or brand receives? Or is it the magical golden egg known as engagement? Moreover, what does success in the realm of the social web mean for businesses/organization? Is it monetization? How do you translate the success of online campaigns to business initiatives? As you can see, there are many ways to define success which vary from situation to situation, and these goals will evolve as your brand, whether personal or corporate, grows. Your conversations will become more nuanced and represent a greater segment of people, and your voice will become stronger.

At the moment, what I’m trying to do on Twitter is find my space and where I belong. This is a personal mission and I’m doing this by participating more actively in conversations that interest and challenge me, finding clarity in my voice and concision in my thoughts/comments. For me, success is discovering where I fit in but how do I track and measure my progress? At this stage, it’s primarily a numbers game for me, which I suspect this will change over time. Even though it’s not my favourite way of measuring success, currently I define progress through numbers. How many retweets do I receive? When I post a link to my blog, how many people click through to drive site traffic? Which hashtags are most effective and what time should I post?

There are certain methods to improve your Twitter presence, as outlined here, here, and here, but what I think is most important is that you keep going, even when it doesn’t feel like anyone is listening. Just because people aren’t responding immediately doesn’t mean they won’t respond eventually. What you have to accomplish in the meantime is find your own voice, and figure out what you have to say. The social web is a crowded space and it takes awhile to determine where you belong in the conversation, and if you can’t find the space, then create it! All of this takes patience. Read more articles, interact with other users, listen, and adjust. It’s work but it can also be fun.

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