I know that it’s customary to set goals, evaluate results, or just think and plan in terms of years. But for me, nine months is the magic number. Maybe it’s because with a thoughtful nine-month assessment, there’s still time left to course-correct and deliver annual results. Or maybe it’s because if one cell can become a human being after a nine month gestation period, what else is more complex or important enough to justify taking longer?
Like many, when I began blogging, tweeting, and sharing status updates on Facebook and LinkedIn, I set goals for myself. I wanted to have a certain number of followers, likes, friends, and reviews… and I worked feverishly (with the help of countless advisors, mentors, and friends) to achieve those goals. It was a game… and it was addictive.
But, somewhere along the way, I realized how inherently limited that sort of dashboard was. Those previously critical numbers began playing a less central role in what I did and how I felt about my social media involvement. Over time, I’ve gravitated away from those standard metrics or evidences of success… and I’ve developed my own metrics that genuinely matter to me.
Today, I evaluate my social media success based upon four key outcomes. My personal dashboard looks at:
Connecting: Having followers is not the same as authentically connecting with other human beings through the social medium. I would never have guessed that these disembodied 140 character messages could be the basis of friendships like the one I share with Jennifer Miller. I would never have imagined that I’d find a role model and friend like Lolly Daskal as a result of my fingers flying over the keyboard during tweet chats. Or that someone I’ve never met could make me cry by responding to my TEDx talk with the simple comment, “your dad would have been so proud.” It’s about connection rather than counting virtual heads.
Learning: Access through social media to a rich community and diverse individuals allows me to learn every day. Weekly wisdom from countless thought leaders, articles suggested by online colleagues, quotes, and other insights routinely enrich me. My social media experience challenges my thinking, introduces new concepts, and stimulates me creatively far beyond what I thought was possible.
Helping: The value of social media success must also take into consideration the human need to be of service and to help others. It’s a good day when I’ve helped to promote someone’s cause or retweeted a great idea that exposes a friend’s brilliance to others. Helping others is exponentially more possible in this medium… and tracking my efforts to optimize this possibility is a priority.
Smiling: My online efforts are a success any day when something tickles or delights me. When someone passes along a thought that makes me laugh. When I feel lighter and happier for having logged on.
So, instead of tracking sheer numbers, I’ve turned my attention to metrics that really matter. And if my experience over the next three months follows the current trajectory, I’ll be able to show year-end results that are off the charts!