Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 10, 2009 9:15 PM

It's Not A Numbers Game (But It Is A Numbers Game)

Having several thousand people following you on Twitter is not going to save your business.

It's also going to be extremely hard to monetize that traffic. Also, by the time you are finally able to build any kind of substantial following, odds are we'll probably have moved on to the next greater, shinier object. If that's the case, then what is the point? Do you find that traditional media channels are looking at Social Media, Web 2.0, Facebook, Twitter and more as their future? They're still screaming about trading analog dollars for digital pennies, but that is not stopping them from doing anything and everything to - at the very least - appear to be current, hip and "with it".

Is there really a point in them trying to be relevant in some of these newer channels and platforms?


Let's first state the obvious: if you have a television show that gets millions of viewers and you're suffering because the recession has severely limited your ability to profit from advertising, then getting several thousand people connected to your brand by tweeting about what is going on behind the scenes is not going to replace those dollars.

Or is it?

David Gregory is the host of the NBC TV show, Meet The Press. At this moment, he has well over 340,000 followers. It might seem like a huge amount when compared to how many followers the average person on Twitter has, but it's a very small number when compared to the total viewership of a show like Meet The Press. So, if all else fails and the television show fades away, can Gregory monetize his Twitter feed, or get the same amount of attention and salary as he's pulling from his current gig? Does being on Twitter really add value to the Meet The Press empire?

It's not a numbers game (but it is a numbers game).

It's the many little things that all add up to a greater sum. Having a Twitter feed, Blogging, posting extra footage on YouTube, interviewing guests and having the full audio available as a Podcast on iTunes, etc... does work to build audience, and it does increase revenues. Here's how: the people who connect on the extra stuff, the behind-the-scenes and more are - without question - your real evangelists. These people will tell others. They will bring you ideas. They will help you. They will support you. The culmination of these little things are the exact things that every business needs to be focusing in on much more than they presently are. Yes, you still have to have great content (or a great product or service), and yes, some of the energy you focus on the product might have to shift to these online channels for connecting as well. The hope is that by doing so, it makes the product better because you're not only broadcasting into them, but listening, reacting and friending the people who care most about you. Those same people who can make your ideas really spread and introduce them to newer and bigger groups of people.

Business and media companies that ignore this new reality of our inter-connectedness are trying to link dollars directly to these channels when - in fact - they should be looking at the indirect dollars and how those will grow their business.

By Mitch Joel

Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Mark Dykeman
    Mitch Joel

    Kind of like putting one thousand fish hooks into play instead of ten? A crude analogy, perhaps, but it seems to me that all of things are about being open and ready for opportunities that you might otherwise miss.

  • Posted by June Li
    Mitch Joel

    Make it a 'smart' numbers game.

    To play a smart numbers game, 'niche thyself'. Focus on the intersection of your most productive evangelists and channel, traditional or non-traditional. Experiment with your content. Not everything will 'take'.

    Although it is difficult to directly monetize cause and impact, as you say, Mitch, there will be indirect effects. Just because the effect is indirect is not an excuse to avoid evaluation. Back to those not-so-sexy survey methods!

    Agree with Mark's analogy of 1000 fish hooks. Before casting hooks, suggest doing some research or floating 'test hooks' to find the best places to fish.

    Be 'smart' by being informed. You won't have 100% accuracy, but eliminating half or more of the deadzones means more concentration where the live ones are.

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