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Quantity vs. Quality in Social Media and PR

Quantity vs. Quality in Social Media and PR

By Carole Bersillon, Intern

In the past couple of weeks, Forbes launched a series of articles about social media influencers and how to increase your network size along with your social pull. One particularly interesting article, “Why the numbers game matters in social media?”, points that some think social media influence is a numbers game where we tend to focus on increasing our audiences: how many followers, fans, friends, views, and clicks? The article underlines some people’s capacity to influence. Chris Brogan, for example has 122,000 followers on Twitter and a total of 67,000 followers on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.  His average network size is 13,000, so I asked myself: what about my own online social presence and influence?

After typing my name on Google and on PeekYou, the new online presence measurement tool (they even launched recently PeekAnalytics for professionals and individuals seeking detailed measurement of the size and the value of their audience, their social participation and their ability to spread messages), here is what I found:

–          Wikipedia articles dealing with oxygen

–          My LinkedIn profile (among others)

–          Reports quoting my name  from the schools I attended

–          Documents I have been working on during my previous internships or experiences.

Also, I have 274 Facebook friends, 69 connections in 11 locations and in 22 industries on LinkedIn (the amount goes to 25,500 two degrees away), and I just launched a new blog that received 323 views in ten days. Well, my social influence is not very extensive yet… But most interestingly, it reminded me about this underlying old debate: quantity vs. quality. Seth Godin wrote that “If we put a number on it, people will try to make the number go up. (…) But first, we are told to make that number go up. Increase the number of fans, friends and followers, so your shouts will be heard. The problem of course is that more noise is not better noise.”

I have been facing this question while editing some media lists here at Fusion: does the number of contacts you have mean you will get the best media coverage? Inherently the answer would be no: creating a media list implies being selective not to be turned out later while pitching. You really have to define your target audiences and carefully select outlets, beats and sometimes refine the research with topic tags, location or frequency. I feel that pitching the media is more about developing a long-term relationship with some happy-few contacts than trying to reach a widespread audience.

I also believe that there is no dichotomy: we can always have both quality (the targeted contacts that won’t turn you out) and quantity (a great range of coverage). Time now to figure this out… 

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