Forbes: Why The Numbers Game Matters in Social Media

December 12th, 2011

December 12, 2011
By, Haydn Shaughnessy

A couple of days back Seth Godin weighed in against thinking of social media influence as a numbers game, arguing that once you focus on numbers you invite more noise. Here’s why I think we need to be cautious about that argument and measure social media influence more.

In the early 1990s a new form of supply, sales, distribution and delivery chain emerged called the business ecosystem. Think of Microsoft and its 75,000 VARs and ISTs or, in the supply chain, Walmart‘s supply ecosystem. The ecosystem at this stage was simple. Microsoft and Walmart owned theirs.

In the mid 2000s the theory of business ecosystems grew a little when Marco Iansiti and Roy Levien described them in terms of keystone companies that lead the ecosystem and suggested how keystone companies might behave. So we had some complexity but still not a lot of measurement.

In the 2010s, even though ecosystems are now critical to how businesses scale, my guess is we are further away from understanding them and managing them effectively, and the reason is we don’t measure them enough. We’re letting new phenomena get away from us without understanding them deeply enough to replicate and improve.

Measuring how they create value might allow us to make them more effective and to help people shape their careers within them. Without the metrics there’s a lot of mystery around this new route to wealth creation.

Here’s how Seth Godin describes the numbers game in social media influence which I think has parallels, not least because social is embedded in ecosystems:

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