The Value of Social Media (for me)

Some folks purport to give us statistics on how much of what happens in social networking platforms is “valuable.”

There’s a problem with that. We all have different measures of value. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Let’s face it, however. There’s an awful lot of noise…how much signal is there? And before you can even define that – what is “signal” to you?

I have something like 4,500 Twitter “followers,” while I follow about 1,300. How many of those truly add value to me on a regular basis? Probably 2-3%. Surprised? It’s not the 80-20 rule – it’s the 97-3 rule!

Those of you who add value know who you are (mostly), because we interact. Here’s what matters to me:

– Professional and personal camaraderie

– Unique and creative perspectives

– Proactive, pay-it-forward connecting

– Information source in domains that interest me

For instance, Guy Kawasaki is noisy, but I really enjoy some of the interesting links he provides. I like seeing fellow New Jerseyan Deirdre Breakenridge show up with her “Good Morning” in my tweetstream. Ben Kunz challenges me and makes me think. Kevin McNulty talks to me. Brandon Cox is always uploading great links to resources. Ann Handley is a dear friend, colleague, and explorer of life. Tom Martin is a lively thinker and loads of fun. Gavin Heaton, even from across the world, makes connections. Christina Stallings and I sometimes have dueling breakfast pictures on the weekend. Dennis VanStaalduinen makes me laugh. Cheryl Smith is a great sounding board and friend in the journey, as is Becky Carroll. Jay Baer is very smart and “gets” business. And then there are those who probably don’t even know that they add value to me, like Mitch Joel and Christopher Penn and Jim Long and Susannah Fox…and I could go on and on….

The bottom line is, you can find the people who are value-adds – AND the people you can help along the way also (be a mentor!) – by figuring out what it is you’re really after and focusing your efforts. So -what and who is valuable to you? Add your thoughts in the comments.

You see all those names up there? Never would have found a single one without blogging, Twitter, and other social platforms. And many are now friends in real life, not just avatars.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the signal/noise ratio. Just find that 2%, your “inner circle.” And build from there.


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

8 Responses to The Value of Social Media (for me)

  1. Susannah Fox says:

    Right back at you, Steve. When people ask why I spend so much time on Twitter & blogs, I have a ready answer:

    100+ people work at the Pew Research Center.

    8 work in my group, the Pew Internet Project.

    1 (me) focuses on technology’s impact on health & health care.

    My colleagues are online – you; the lists I follow; tweets tagged #hcsm, #hcsmeu, #fdasm, #whypm; comments on TheHealthCareBlog and (and on & on).

    I love in-person meetings but I try to limit my travel. If I didn’t have social media, I would lose my edge as an observer of the field.

  2. Jay Baer says:

    Thanks so much Steve. And you’re 100% right. It’s not about following everyone, it’s about following a few that matter to you – for whatever reason.

    The real key you hit on is being a mentor. If you shine the light on other people enough, eventually that light will shine back on you. That’s the part that’s sadly missing from a lot of today’s social media, as the “what’s in it for me” sentiment is taking precedent over “how I can I be helpful?”

  3. Cheryl Smith says:

    You’re absolutely correct on this one Steve. We must first identify our goals for using social media, and then determine what are the best ways to reach those goals. For me, it’s much less about selling stuff and much more about establishing relationships with others.

    The biggest and most pleasant surprise of all has been getting to know some amazing people in the social media space, and then sometimes, having the opportunity to meet them “IRL” (in real life).

    The bottom line is this: the rules for networking in real life apply all the more to social networks and social media. Fundamentally, it’s about engaging people!

  4. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks so much, Steve. I guess I’d value Twitter differently than, say, Facebook or LinkedIn. On Twitter, I follow a lot of people, and deal in “volume.” So does that mean I only interact with a handful? Well, yes.. at any given time. But that said, I find that even interacting with someone once or twice — however briefly or randomly — still gives me a chance to connect, however small. And I try to make every interaction count.. but answering back, or responding, or RTing when something delights me.

    There are those who are part of my “circle,” and you are certainly one of them. But those are often folks I tend to interact with in other places — on Facebook, email, blogs like this one, or whatever. Twitter.. well, I use differently.

    • Ann, excellent point. My behavior is also somewhat more “promiscuous” on Twitter than elsewhere – it’s the widest circle and creates many random contacts, some of which prove to be quite fruitful. It’s also one of the more interesting ways to add value to others, because you never really know who’s going to see something you tweeted and find value in it…

  5. Steve,

    Thanks for the nod. I frequently mention you to people as one of the people who really “gets it”. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of value – and your viewpoint is of value to me, so keep cranking out the good stuff! 🙂


  6. Great post Steve! I really like Susannah’s comment about her colleagues being online and it is so true. My online community is also such a great resource to learn from and interact with in areas and find opportunities that are not currently available or possible in my job. Especially being in a rather niche community (nonprofit) and a niche nonprofit within that (blood banking) it is so great to be able to connect with others coming up against the same challenges specific to our community.

    I also would say that although it took quite a bit of time to set up (and I don’t even have as many followers or people I’m following as you Steve!), I really am so glad that I try to utilize Twitter lists and Facebook lists. It helps me to better manage and communicate with the people I’m following.

    • Ashley, I FINALLY implemented Twitter Lists recently, and am embarrassed that I waited so long. Very helpful way to stratify contacts, and far better than custom-creating columns over and over in Twitter clients like TweetDeck.

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