If someone is following you, does that mean that they are engaged in who you are and what you're about?
If you take a look in places like your Twitter feed or your newsfeed in Facebook, it becomes abundantly clear that many people feel that they have a right to shill, promote, and push their wares just because they are "connected" to you. Being connected has become a commodity. It's cheap. It's easy, and it's loosing much of it's power and intention. In a day and age where following, friending, or subscribing to anyone about anything is nothing more than a simple click away, there needs to be some time, effort, and thought put against the idea that being connected is basic and primal. It's the next part that is increasingly difficult to attain: a level of engagement with an audience, community, or whatever you want to call whomever has agreed to follow or friend you. That is a whole other ballgame.
Clicks are cheap... and so is friending and following somebody.
People make the assumption that just because they're following you, they're engaged with you, what you're about and what you would like them to do (for you)...and that's a misnomer. Think about Twitter: you may have 12,000 followers but if you're posting and the majority of your followers happen to not be connected on Twitter at that specific moment in time, your real engagement level with that community is probably only a very small percentage of the actual whole number of your followers. People like to say they have X amount of friends and X amount of followers in their bio or in public, but how many of those friends and followers are really engaged? How many of them are you really "connected" to and able to not only maintain a healthy relationship with, but actually consider them a worthy community member? (it would be interesting to see how many people using Twitter even know all of the people who they are following, and how deep that knowledge level flows?).
Being connected and being engaged are two totally different worlds.
When people talk about Social Media ROI or business objectives, they mostly seem tied to very traditional mass media measurement models. They're not ever really looking to see how deep the rabbit hole actually goes. Who cares how many people you are connected to? The real measurement is: how engaged in your content and context is your living community? Sure, you can see this as another twist on the "quality vs. quantity" conversation, but it's not so elementary. What we're really looking for is a new paradigm that completely removes the raw numbers and instead focuses on a true level of engagement.
Because with engagement comes loyalty and action, and there's nothing more important than that to Marketers in 2010.