Has there ever been an age where we’ve been so publicly measured?
As social media becomes embedded in our lives, there’s a growing number of tools available to measure our online performance, to assign us a grade, a rating or a name.
Seriously. It’s getting beyond a joke.
As a social media professional, I want and need analytics as much as the next social media consultant.
But the burgeoning number of tools that will show me how I’m tracking personally online – and which will serve me up some handy recommendations – is frankly making my head spin.
On any given morning, I can check how my profiles are faring online using Crowdbooster, TwentyFeet, Klout, PeerIndex, TwitterCounter and more recently SproutSocial. I can check out my WordPress site stats, Facebook Page Insights, YouTube channel views, GooglePlus pluses, Instagram likes, bitly link results and Google Analytics.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As I said, I need to measure my results and those of my clients. It’s part of my job and I’m damn appreciative of the measurement tools at hand, particularly when they’re free.
But that shouldn’t stop us all from considering when ‘enough is enough’ and if there is in fact an insidious side to this that has an impact on us as human beings.
When I take a break from Twitter for example – when I’m more quiet than usual because I’m on a freaking holiday (something social media consultants should never do, right?) – I know there’s a good chance my Klout score will dip, as will my PeerIndex listings. I may even lose a few Twitter followers. I’m punished for being offline.
Once upon a time I was addicted to Guitar Hero on Wii. Periodically, it would display a message gently suggesting it was time for me to take a break. There was a timer built in, to assess how long I’d been relentlessly playing, and I assume for occupational health and safety reasons, the Wii would kindly remind me of the outside world.
But social media dashboards don’t do that.
They’re invested in an endless spiral of pushing you to tweet, post and blog more and more and more. Measurement dashboards like Crowdbooster and Klout provide advice about how to drive your score higher. And you can bet this revolves around posting more often, and posting content that’s “more engaging”.
Of course, we’ll all react differently when using these dashboards. Some of us will take it with a pinch of salt, other more sensitive souls will be saddened when they lose followers or nobody reads their blog. I have seen people sharing tweets of alarm when their Klout falls. But if we’re mature enough – and social savvy – we’ll recognise that our digital scores rise and fall according to our activity and think nothing of it.
I just hope that impressionable people, and perhaps especially younger people, don’t begin using these dashboards and think that these tools are a measure of their self worth …