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How Do You Measure Success: Is Social Media the Answer?

Kim Kardashian has more followers on social media than the entire population of the United States with 430+ million fans. And the footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo has even more with 477 million just on Instagram!  

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Why it matters

You may not have that many followers or ever hope to get even close to Kim or Cristiano, but “social” media matters because of one key feature and benefit. It provides free organic reach. This wasn’t available a decade or so ago. Social media has changed the game of visible success.

There are many reasons you may want to build a following on social media. These include: 

  • Global reach. This level of global sharing of media has been transformed by the “social media” platforms. 
  • It can drive free attention and traffic with crowd sourced sharing
  • Your content could go viral
  • You can test the reaction and impact of your content for a low cost 
  • Sharing (done well) can drive sales 
  • It will provide affirmation that what you shared is valued. Then that will turn into supercharged motivation. 

So if you have created art, a product or a service and you want to make a difference, then sharing it with the world is where it becomes visible.

That is where the magic happens. It’s visceral.

By the numbers

Social media emerged in the early 2000s. The first global platform for social connection was MySpace (launched in 2003) but in 2004 Facebook launched and over time designed a better feed (and mousetrap).

For the next few years Facebook offered a free “attention” platform until 2007 when it started to roll out its ad product. Facebook knew that building an audience first, before monetizing, would fit the emerging freemium business model.

Up until 2012 the organic reach of Facebook was significant, but in just 6 months it plummeted by nearly 50% as Facebook implemented algorithms to increase visibility of ads and reduce what your followers saw. 

Organic-Reeach-For-Fan

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The major players today are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and the emerging star TikTok. 

What is the size of the top 10 social media platforms in terms of  “Monthly Active Users”?

  1. Facebook – 2.9 Billion
  2. YouTube – 2.2 billion 
  3. WhatsApp – 2 Billion 
  4. Instagram – 2 Billion
  5. Facebook Messenger – 1.3 Billion
  6. WeChat – 1.26 Billion
  7. TikTok – 1 Billion 
  8. Sina Weibo – 573 million 
  9. QQ – 593 Million
  10. Telegram – 550 Million 

PS: By the way, Twitter comes in at #15 at 436 million. 

How about a breakdown of Kim Kardashian’s numbers? Her social media followers are: Facebook – 35M, Instagram – 329M, Twitter – 70M, Snapchat – 27M, TikTok -7M.

Drum roll….468 million in total!

In between the insights

In his book, “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success”,  Albert-László Barabási mentions that when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success. And social networks are one of the key defining metrics of success today.

Success can be measured in two ways. 

  • By definitive data. The race car driver crosses the line first. Cristiano is the top goal scorer. 
  • By the crowd. That is your sharing and fan numbers. They can define success. And Kim is quite good at that. An attention seeking success missile. 

So visibility matters and social proof matters. 

Once they’ve seen you, acknowledged you, recognized you and affirmed your creation. You matter and your art matters. It is a powerful drug and aphrodisiac that draws you in to accelerate creation, wanting more of that affirmation. 

The intoxication from affirmation becomes supercharged motivation. 

Kim Kardashian isn’t Einstein, she’s also not a great singer like Beyonce and can’t kick a football very well. Her success is not measurable for what she does. But she is famous for being famous. Why? Because she has learned and perfected the art of social media sharing. The crowd is her measure of success.

What they’re saying

I mentioned earlier that organic reach on Facebook is not what it used to be. It’s sitting at around 5.2% in 2022.

But according to Ampfluence.com there is a better emerging alternative to Facebook for free attention, and that is TikTok with an organic reach of 118%. One of the main reasons is that TikTok uses a content graph algorithm that prioritizes great content. Your content reaches beyond your immediate followers, unlike Facebook’s social graph. 

Reality check

Social media does provide free attention but be aware that Facebook  and many of the other platforms don’t give much away for free anymore. These platforms have become “pay to play”. 

But the one shiny gleam in the free sharing gloom is TikTok (at least for the moment). 

These networks are not about sunshine and roses, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya”. Yes, social media has many positives but there is a dark side to the technology. 

So, what are some of the negative implications and outcomes of social media?

It’s addictive

Addiction comes in many forms and social media addiction has uncovered a few more.

  • “Fear of missing out” (FOMO) – we dive into our phones wanting to see the latest news and drama  
  • Smartphone alert driven addiction

Mental health

This issue is a “biggie” and social media can lead to a range of negative outcomes.

  • Self image issues – The best phrase to describe this is “Judging your raw inside by the polished outside of others”. The social media content most of us publish is about showing our best self. But we all know that behind the front door is reality. And that is sometimes ugly and raw. Diving into your feed can create a feeling of “I am not enough”   
  • Bullying – Open platform can mean that the trolls and bullies have the freedom to be what we hoped had been left behind at primary school by young, immature and unevolved humans. Now we have adults acting like naughty poisonous bullying children too. 

Productivity 

Instead of doing focused “deep work” we go down rabbit holes of distraction. And guess what? We go from productive to distracted.  

Weaponizing beliefs 

The algorithms of social media and other platforms were originally aimed to provide global connection, new horizons and bring people together. 

But the unintended consequence is that often we are served up a bubble of information that doesn’t stretch our minds but shrink wraps it. Keeping us trapped in a small tribal village of “same thinkers”.

This is not mind expanding but “mind shrinking”. An echo chamber of limiting beliefs. This leads to separateness rather than open mindedness. This leads to weapons of mass distraction that don’t bring us together but amplifies differences. 

The bottom line

If you want to get noticed and attract attention as an entrepreneur or a creator then you need to master the art and science of sharing. That’s social media. But you will then need to amplify with paid media.

The global sharing networks that matter are social media. Used wisely, these are vital platforms to provide attention and sales for your creation and content. 

But be aware that social media is a tool, and living and dying by being in its shadow can be a two edged sword. Learn to use it rather than being used and abused by its addictive siren song.

Want to go deeper on TikTok?

If you want to find out more some of the best ways to get free reach on TikTok, then check out “Why Brands are Killing it on TikTok”  and “9 Best Strategies to Grow Your Brand with TikTok

​​Starting a “Side Hustle” on social media

A few years ago, I started a side hustle where I created first and worked out later how to make money. That was just my simple blog at Jeffbullas.com, where I shared my thoughts and ideas about the power of social media. My creation and art was writing.

Maybe you’d like to do something similar? 

SideHustleStrategies.co. is an evolution of Jeffbullas.com that I have always dreamed about. It is devoted to helping you grow personally and professionally. Side Hustle Strategies was created to help you flourish.

Since I launched Jeffbullas.com, it has been read by over 40 million people. That website and blog was originally a passion project that started as a side hustle. As I grew my blog, I discovered the financial freedom it gave me and how I designed and lived my life.

After experiencing that freedom, I wanted to help others get control of their life. That is where the inspiration started for creating SideHustleStrategies.co.

Join Side Hustle Strategies today.

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