The more research I do into the stats provided by the various social media platforms, the more I think it is better to just ignore those numbers. I still think social media is a good way of putting your thoughts, ideas, and work out into the world. But judging its success based on the data the platforms give you is kind of a suckers game, not too different from playing Three Card Monte with a street hustler.
Like the street hustler, the people who set up the social media sites control the game. They decide if you win or lose, how much you win or lose, etc. And like any good hustler, they make it seem like you can win with skill and luck. They give the illusion of chance and a level playing field. It is the story they sell.
And they will let you have some small wins. After all, they want you to keep playing. They don't want you to walk away disgusted. So they give you some wins. Again, though, it is at their discretion.
Some argue that there are formulas for success, that you can win big. Inevitably these formulas involve posting many times throughout the day (which is really just spamming) and appealing to the lowest common denominator. Suddenly you are posting material you would never put on your own website. And you are not really connecting with your followers. You are just trying to make the algorithm happy.
At that point you are just an unwitting accomplice. You are the guy at the card table who is in on the scheme but pretends to be a random bystander that gets lucky. You are there to help create the illusion of legitimacy and keep the crowd gathered around.
Again, there are opportunities within this to make some connections, to get the word out about what you do (somewhat). But you are going to need to come up with your own way of measuring the success of these endeavors. The platform stats don't really tell you anything.
Take the "reach" stat that most offer. Theoretically these are the total number of people who saw your post. First, there is no way of knowing for sure. Second, did these people really see your post or did it just move past their screen for an instant? Facebook counts a video view if it appeared in someone's feed for just 3 seconds with the sound off. By that standard a roadside billboard gets more attention than your average video.
I also keep running into people who admit that they don't click on things. They read posts and watch videos, but even when they like what they see, they don't like, or comment, or share the post. Why? Because they don't have to.
So one of these people could like your post. It might even be what makes her decide to buy your album, widget, whatever. But the social media stats measure this interaction as a failure.
My suggestion is to still participate in social media, but make sure to also maintain your website and blog, a property you control. And the next time the social media platform tries to lure you into playing the "improve your stats" game, just smile and walk away from that hustler.
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