The Long and Winding Road: One billion followers and other BS!

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Now I have your attention… have to admit there is an awful lot of nonsense sent over the social networks these days. I fully accept that I may be one of the perpetrators , I may provide some people with endless laughs, that is the nature of this world.

When you look a little deeper you may well agree with me that there are some pretty unhelpful pieces of help out there. I wonder how someone is expected to sort the wheat from the chaff…what should you use to measure the quality of advice you are getting?

In my days in education, I always worked on the principle of meeting the children where their knowledge was, not where I wanted them to be. We all understand that we are unable to know everything, we accept that we have holes in our knowledge and that we shy away from areas we do not like. The problem with this is that Social Media tends to shine a search light on weak areas, strengths become emotional crutches and weaknesses become skeletons in the wardrobe.

Only this week the news feeds were alight with the landmark number of 1,000,000,000 Facebook accounts being active. Proof that success is defined by user numbers, revenue is directly related to user numbers and the future stability of a business is directly related to user numbers.


It means nothing at all, later in the week and over the weekend we see that all the gleeful reporters who broke the ‘one billion user’ story were now breaking the ‘ many of these accounts are fake’ story! The folly of chasing or at least being overly impressed by large numbers, has been cruelly exposed. But what of the countless experts who extolled the virtues of this horizontal growth in Facebook as the precursor to long term success, are they out there running interference now?

Perhaps this is a good situation to emerge as Social Media platforms start to enter a maturing phase, maybe we needed to see the poster child of this genre in a true light. Could we now start to focus on how we use this connectivity for good rather than shock and awe?

I like Twitter, I think it has all the components of an ideal platform; succinct, flexible, controllable and easily accessed.

One criticism I have is this, I feel it is in real danger of polarizing it’s members. By that I mean, allowing a gap to develop between the ‘big guns’ with tens of thousands of followers and more and the ‘ordinary Joe’ who has a small following of anything from a couple of hundred to a few thousand.

Hey, that’s me!!! My account is very modest… by design… certainly, if I wanted to generate tens of thousands of followers I could, just look at the history 3rd Planet Media has when it comes to putting bums on seats…but for me Twitter is playing another role. Over time it will become apparent and I hope serve to help others but more of that down the line.

I have no problem with gaps in follower counts, although Twitter themselves have realised the inherent problems in measuring Social Media this way and are currently looking at assessing the impact of tweets more than numbers of followers.Where the problem exists is in the knowledge gap between the ‘big guns’ and the ‘ordinary Joe’….remember the idea of meeting people where they are rather than where you want them to be?

Think of this scenario, say I am a ‘big gun’ with one million followers hanging on my every word. I will tend to make grand utterances which serve to motivate and inspire more than I will chat on a level to the little guy who is struggling to network….I simply will not feel that I have the time for such things nor will I want to be seen spending time on such ‘insignificant’ issues. I want to be name dropping and inspiring!

Don’t get me wrong, we all need inspiring and motivating but we also need practical help. How can the little guy ask for help if he doesn’t even know what to ask for?

I will be jetting around the world attending conferences delivering ‘keynotes’ and ‘hanging out’ and generally going on a worldwide book promo tour etc. My stock will be high, my followers in awe and I will be slowly but surely getting too far away from them to the point they will stop listening to me because I no longer resonate with their dreams and goals…in effect, I will have ceased to be a leader.

My hope is that we will mature in our use of Social Media and look locally, look simply and practically at what people need to make their businesses successful. This medium is so very useful for connecting on a personal level but only if we actively try to. Seems simple really but I see we are drifting away from it bit by bit.

Am I wrong? How many of you follow a ‘big gun’ and respond to their tweets but get nothing back? How many times do you feel you have made a great observation for it to be cast aside and ignored?How many of you feel just a little dumb for thinking that ‘that guy’ would listen to little old you?

Well , I say this….don’t! The only difference between you and them is the opportunity you have had to acquire the skill set needed to be heard more easily.

Now this is not an idea unique to me, this short video below shows a similar idea being spoken about…unfortunately no definitive solution is found but it’s a start!

What if there was a place you could go to get the help and advice you needed in a constructive way, from other people like you? Isn’t that what this social thing was designed to be in the first place?

What if I could offer my knowledge in exchange for some of yours? Possible? Surely, but it will mean we all put our egos in the fridge for a while as we learn together … are you up for it?

see you on the long and winding road…… Patrick

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