Forget the numbers. Focus on the relationships


It is a mad world. Hyper-connected, dizzyingly social, crazily talkative. The social quotient is gauged by numbers – as Klout and Kred will tell you. How followed are you? How many friends have you? How many people love you? However there is a strong case to build some sanity around social scores. Examine them more closely and translate numbers into meaningful things. More people are taking a step back and trying to figure out the true value of social.  Trying to decode the intrinsic worth of their social networks. And the introspection is best done by going offline.

In one of those social detox phases last year, I had gone off social for a month. Month-that is an eternity! Yes so no Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter. And yes I had secretly been wondering how people would miss me. I had 2000+ followers on twitter, close to 800 friends on facebook. Good numbers. And I was convinced there would be a great deal of buzz about where I was. Surprise! I come back on Twitter after a month. Only a handful of voices wondering where was I. On Facebook, a few more people asked. I had something of an Adam eats the apple moment. The social eden where I was a popular figure, or so I thought crumbled. And a startling realization

“Weak ties, remain just that unless you nurture them intensively”

Lets face it. While I do not contest the huge amount of data and literature supporting strength of weak ties, most ties on social mostly translate into nothing. Here is a small social experiment. Say you are stranded in a strange city where a large chunk of your social connections are also based in. You send out a SOS out to your social network. How many will respond? When I say respond, I mean how many will get off their couches, start their cars and come to help? A less extreme example. You are looking for a job? How many in your social network will recommend you? Of the 10K followers? Of the 30K fans. How many can you have  relevant ‘relationships’ with? Beyond the 140 characters. Beyond the FB like. Uncomfortable questions but pertinent. Some of the answers would tell you the intrinsic value of your social network. True, the value is not all transactional. There is always the learning and the good times. But the fact remains the uber loving, super-helpful social utopia is also a little stretched. Relationships take time. Which is what we often forget in the haze of influencer lists and klout scores.

A tie is as weak or strong as the time you invest in it. Which calls for us changing our social approach slightly. Let the numbers be there for vanity. But take a conscious stand on cultivating a set of meaningful relationships. Talk, engage. And more importantly listen. Take the virtual conversations beyond the web. Bring the real conversations into the web. Go beyond the back-thumping. Know people. As real human beings. Beyond the twitter handle. You can get past Klout with a superficial interest in the network. But to make relationships work and work for you, you have to get real. Really involved. The return on relationships will only happen when you put the sweat in.

The social score, as I see it is then proportionate to the meaningful relationships you build. You may want to bucket your networks and find out the relationships that matter more and you will therefore want to focus more on. The relationships subset could have far greater returns than the rest of your social universe. Happy socializing!

RimjhimRimjhim is a speaker, columnist, entrepreneur and mentor for several startups. She has been a guest speaker and adviser on social media to several bschools. She headed the Social Media Marketing at Tata Consultancy Services. She is an experienced sales and marketing professional having led  global portfolios including new age solutions such as cloud, social media and mobility. She has also lead CS initiatives in various countries including UK and Ireland and have championed social media programs around sustainability. She is an avid blogger, marathoner and a social media practitioner. She holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Applications from Jadavpur University and a MBA from SP Jain, Mumbai. She also holds certificates in Social Media from Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK. She is an avid toastmaster and she is a part of the executive committee of Mumbai Toast Masters. Check out her blog at Globe-Slother. Connect with her on LinkedIn and on twitter @GlobeSlother.



1 Comment

  1. venks1209 says:

    very intelligently written and useful article, thanks a lot. Regards, Venkat

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