During recent use of social media, I was reminded that some people still use and monitor their “Klout”, a social media metric, to inform them about their social media “influence”.  I can understand the need to determine if use of social media is worthwhile, but I have yet to use or look into this metric and data.  I have written a post about this previously.

John Spencer recently wrote a post about the “the dangers in quantifying relationships” within social media connecting.   He discussed his own struggle with what to make of the “numbers” aspect of social media and wondered about the effects on his students.

It’s not hard to get caught up in the numbers and statistics.  It would be understandable if one stopped using social media platforms if they felt that the feedback in terms of “stats”, “hits”, “likes”, and shares were on a lower scale, especially if others are publicly reporting or displaying their own standings within these networks.  My own “stats” quite likely would suggest that what I do is not worthwhile, but I do what I do regardless.

On John’s post, a few commenters provided some honest, candid remarks related to their experiences as newer participants with social media.  I encourage you to read the post and comments in full.  Vivian provided a good reminder, “With the Internet, we can have these mini celebrity worlds but they never existed on such a huge scale, before the Internet. Since we’re digital immigrants, we should know better as we can still remember a time when it wasn’t like that.”  Fred Galang admitted, “Not going to lie – I too look at numbers.  As a media teacher I should know better. As a human being, it was expected”, but goes on to affirm, “Impact and influence you ask? I don’t need it from Twitter”.  Both commenters and others shared further good thoughts as well.

Our day-to-day, “real” lives can be a lot about performance measures, ranking and rating.  Many experiences cannot be validated at all, or are validated by others.  If we as adults are attracted by the validation that social media experience or “influence” can provide, are we aware of how this may also be affecting our youth who use these social online spaces?

I know John had some plans to provide his students with related forum questions.  He has shared some of the feedback from his students here in “Facebook is not a Front Porch”.

I have overheard my own children comparing their ‘likes’ on statuses and photos.  Yet their personalities and comfort with posting online differ and they learn from each other through this and from our family discussions.  One good guiding question that I find helpful is, “How much are you trying to BE interesting vs. interested in others?”.  That idea came from a post that Chris Wejr wrote in reflection about his social media use.

I think reflection is often needed on this, for ourselves and our kids.  Are we influencing with numbers?  How are we influenced by numbers?  What does influence even mean online?  I don’t want to participate, write, follow, interact, etc., FOR the numbers or “Klout”.  I think a high score or thousands of followers, or worrying about my “brand” would only overwhelm and pressure me.  I believe it would affect my writing and interactions with others.  I know it can be difficult to find the appropriate “line” of sharing ideas to connect, learn and grow vs. sharing in self-promotion.  I can understand others who want the numbers for information because they use these spaces for different things and various professional and business purposes, but I don’t think this is the purpose of a personal learning network (PLN).  If I don’t get an answer to a question or an interaction for what I toss out there to a smaller network and following, I can live with that.  I wish Twitter didn’t post our number of tweets and followers – there is no context in those numbers alone.  Quantity simply does not mean quality, especially with social media….unless I am missing something?

Now, back to thinking, reflecting, and sharing about education 🙂