Social Media : Quality v. Quantity

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Pinterest, Klout–your “popularity” is measured in many ways, but largely in how many people follow you and how many you follow. Not how good the relationship is, not how many people de-friend you half an hour after you accepted their request, but quantity.

Unfollowing is fine. Image from

Klout is interested in how much you post and how many people re-post. And we take the bait. We want to be popular. We want to be recognized–Klout has pure genius behind it. In ways they will not tell you, but will gather lots of information about you, they create a number and then tell you how you can make it higher. I’ve gotten more Klout requests from people I don’t know than I have from any other social media. We are hungry for popularity.

It’s easy to mistake quantity for quality, but the essential difference lies in connection. In relationships. In being with people around whom you can be authentic and be accepted, not for whom you have to act in ways that allow you to be approved.

How do you find those people you want to build a relationship with? Easier than you think. First of all, think quality–what these people offer to others. Would you bring someone into your house who trashes people in public? Who does nothing but market his/her product or service? For whom conversation is them-to-you only, never you-to-them?  Don’t follow them either. Even if they have 30,000 followers.  They can’t keep up with all of them; most likely you aren’t The One.

Other suggestions:

1. Before you follow back on Twitter, read the person’s bio and home page. The bio should be specific, not just cute. If the home page is loaded with mindless photos, requests for RTs, updates of their locations from 4Square, give them a pass. What will you learn, contribute to, or relate to from this person? A whole page is a good cross-section of their character for the day.

2. Check your values. I’m not talking about honesty, ethics, and courage, because they are easy to disguise or hide. I’m talking about characteristics that are important to you–comfortable shoes, spicy food, ability to listen to you rant without fixing. Those values are what you are looking for in a relationship, even online. Does the person’s posts express this?

If you follow someone and they immediately direct or private message you with a marketing offer, un-friend them. For them, you are a way to make money, not build a relationship.

3. On Facebook, the check is similar. A lot of those “Blah, blah, I know only 3% of you will have the guts to share this, but if you do. . . ” mean low content value, high popularity need.  A lot of links to  their Etsy sites and nothing else is a pass. People who never comment on your posts–is this a relationship? People who say they are thinning their FB friends and you should leave one word about them and then re-post, and then they will . . . .sigh. I un-friend them without a guilty thought.

So how do you find people you want to follow? Look at the friends of your friends. Look up authors you like of books you’ve read. If you read blogs, look at the blogroll. (Although a lot of blogs don’t have them anymore). But before you decide on anyone, read what they post. We are what we post.

-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and writer who keeps an art journal.