ABC to 123: Giving adults social media grades

As a child, the report card validates us. A, B, C, D, F. Those letters affect our self esteem, self confidence, and future success. As we grow, those letters morph into numbers. In social media, it's all about how many Twitter followers, blog subscribers, unique visitors, Facebook fans, and retweets we have. And, don't forget the Klout score! Living and dying by numbers can be exhausting.

For my last several blog posts, Twitter hasn't been indexing tweets to my posts and, therefore, Disqus (my commenting system) hasn't been accurately logging reactions. I know I have 60+ on my last post and only four are showing. Oh, the inhumanity of it all! No! No! No! Where are my numbers? Validate me! Love me! Show me the numbers!

I admit that I notice the numbers. Don't think less of me. But, if we're honest with ourselves, most of us do care to a certain degree. Numbers are one of the ways we measure success. And, of course, don't forget when we add a dollar sign to the front of a number (as in our salaries). Numbers, numbers, numbers.

Numbers are the adult version of grades. And, although I did well in school, I'm sick of being graded. Is the number of Twitter followers I have really an accurate representation of my knowledge? No. If I have a bad traffic day on my blog, does that make what I have to say any less valid? No. Will my Klout score help me live longer or be healthier? Absolutely not.

I'm a person with value outside of the numbers. I donate things instead of throwing them away. I volunteer. I recycle. I don't litter. I get things off high shelves for senior citizens at the market. I'm a person who tries to make a positive change, both personally and professionally. I know you are, too. So, despite the fact that society says numbers matter and that they represent our value, let's start a new revolution. One that puts a greater emphasis on the right things.

Let's forget about the social media grades. Let's focus on what matters. Family, friends, growing our businesses, improving ourselves, and being home in time for dinner. Who's with me?


  1. A- to a certain degree, this is why I dropped out of the blogging ratrace...
    not that I was obsessed with numbers, but I did look and wonder...
    still trying to figure it out in large part

  2. Dang straight girl, count me in!!

    Like you Amber, I notice the numbers. How can we not? But I'm getting closer and closer to the point where I completely separate myself from them, if that makes sense. It's kinda like they're there, but they're clearly not a part of me, my worth, and the fact that my stuff rocks! ;-)

    Awesome post m'lady. :)


  3. Amber, I'm with you! You and I are definitely on the same page. In some respects, my numbers are good, in others, not so good. I care less about the numbers than I used to, but I wish they didn't matter to me at all.

    The adjustment of Klout scores shows just how meaningless all of this is. And you're right, I'm tired of being graded.

    Thanks for the sage reality check!

  4. I'm with you!
    I've always admired your forthright approach to the numbers, Amber. Acknowledging that yes, you do look at them (we all do!), but that you also know what matters most. Rock on, my late night friend.

  5. I miss you, Todd! ; )

  6. I'm are SO right!!  It's all about perspective and priority.  We need to pay more attention to the life and people that around us right here and right now.  I am way more concerned about my family and my friends than I am about numbers in a world that is so tenuous and unpredictable.  So, in the words of my very wise and wonderful Mom, just keep doing what you do best and the rest will follow...amen to that!

  7. Oh, you figured it out Todd. Just do it for the right reasons and it's all good.

  8. Ha ha! Awesome, Marcus! And, for the record, your stuff DOES rock!

    It's hard to separate yourself from it, but I'm trying to find perspective in it all. Some days it's easier than others, but I know I'm more than a number. And, THAT is a start ;-)

    Thanks for stopping by! Darn good to see you!

  9. I think that last Klout adjustment just really helped put things in focus for me. A 13 point drop in my score, when people without engagement for three days went up? That just confirmed that the system is flawed.

    Thanks for adding your input, Carolyn! #SayNoToGrades

  10. thanks erica- I'm not missing in action, entirely...

  11. I'm in and fortunately I have determined what my focus is, the 'why' I am here if you will, and what sustainability looks like for me. One thing it doesn't have anything to do with are numbers.

    I'm in commercial insurance sales. I have been on straight commission for over 20 years; straight commission means NO guaranteed paycheck BTW. Those are the only numbers I'm concerned with because we get sliced, diced and measured every way imaginable.

    I got into social because I thought it was supposed to be social. The social part I can do. If I need to get more out of it than I am at some point, then I will figure that out too. 

    That's my story....

  12. Hey Erica,

    It's an ongoing challenge to keep a healthy balance, isn't it? We have to measure our success, but just not let ourselves lose sight of the things that really move the needle.

    Thanks for stopping by, Erica. And, good luck to you as I see you try to find the best way to manage your efforts, as well.

  13. Hey Claudia!

    Well, said. So many people put so much work into growing that Klout number and only saw it tank with a small tweak. Talk about tenuous and unpredictable!

    Numbers are but one small way to measure our success. But they should never define us or dictate how we feel about ourselves.

    Your mom sounds like a wise woman ;-)

  14. Glad to hear you're figuring out what works best for you, Bill. Oh, and I know about straight commission. Nothing creates hustle like that kind of compensation plan.

    For what it's worth, I read in my Twitter stream that you're #1 in the whole wide world. :-)

  15. Oh, I am so with you on this, Amber! It's so juvenile and useless to care. The point of social media is to share wisdom, humor, insight - not to win or outscore opponents. Ugh. I pay no attention to scores and grades. I want meaningful conversations and worthwhile information. And fun. Sheesh.

  16. Global domination.......

  17. Hi Jean! I think you've hit on something with "outscore opponents". Who cares if your numbers are larger if it's not yielding results that matter?

    And, as you say, nothing wrong with some good ole' fashioned fun, either. As long as it's time well-spent that enriches you somehow, who cares about the number, right?

  18. Me thinks you've been watching Pinky and the Brain DVDs? :-)

  19. Count me in! I've been trying to chill about the numbers for the last 6 months now and concentrate on building real connections. One. At. A. Time. 

  20. Hi Tea! Yeah, that's the challenge. Concentrating on the real things that move the needle. Numbers don't always equal success (e.g. more clients, more money, etc.).

    Trying to find that sweet spot that makes a difference can be hard, and the grades can easily influence us to concentrate on areas that may not create the biggest impact.

    Good luck building up those real connections. Those kinds of efforts will serve you well.

  21. Funny, I have a blog post in my drafts about this very topic. We were using TweetMeme as our counter of tweets and were only getting 30 or less a day. I started to wonder what was going on when, on one particular post, I sent more than 100 DMs thanking people for the RTs. But the blog counter showed only 15. Turns out TweetMeme no longer works (hell bells, Gini) and we installed different share buttons. When we did that, our comments shot through the roof.

    So we can all pretend the numbers don't matter, but the truth of the matter is, we all pay attention.

  22. Hey Gini! I noticed you moved your share buttons to the side and had wondered why. Mystery solved!

    Yes, we'd all like to pretend we're above it all and don't look at the numbers. But, we do. As with all things in life, I think it's about moderation. Don't let anything take over to the extreme. Find balance, clarify focus, and make sure you're concentrating on the right stuff.

    I'm not going to lie. It's still making me twitchy that all my reactions aren't showing. I mean, they're out there in cyberspace so it's like losing your keys or something! ;'-)


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