For a field supposedly bereft of metrics, social media is full of them.

I have more Facebook fans / Twitter followers / blog subscribers than you do. My tweets get re-tweeted more often, more people are talking about this on Facebook, and every blog post has a hundred comments. And, of course, the crowning achievement, my Klout score is higher than yours.

I’ve had a couple of run-ins lately with social media envy. The first was a blog post that was very popular for all the wrong reasons – I took a position that lots of people disagreed with. I don’t regret that post (or the sentiment it contained), but it did get me thinking on the nature of why that post was so “popular” compared to others on my blog. Certainly, it has been a long understood concept that controversy boosts readership (just ask a tabloid journalist). However, what really made me start thinking on this topic was why would readers engage more just to tell me I’m wrong? Does this kind of thinking carry over into more corporate blogging? Should I start my next vet practice blog with the words “I hate pets?”

Obviously, you won’t find any anti-pet blog posts from me any time soon. But it led me to start reassessing as to why I decided to start blogging in the first place.

The next thing that really set off the social media envy was Facebook. Working in small communities, and have having a very successful Facebook presence on the two major pages I have run as a veterinary practice manager, I believe I am justifiably proud of both the number of fans and the level of engagement, without vast sums of cash being sunk into the pockets of Mark Zuckerberg. My pages have had significantly better engagement, and fan bases than my competitors, or other local businesses. Of course, it is therefore disheartening to come across others who seem to be doing a better job – with more fans and better engagement, even if they are not in your market. Social Media envy I hate you.

The bottom line, however, is that social media envy, like envy and jealously in general is pointless and stupid. The real questions to be asking ones self when faced with social media envy are:

1: Does my presence achieve what I want it to achieve?

2: If someone else is achieving more than I am how can I learn from them and is it even possible for me to do something similar? There is a big difference, for example, in running a Facebook page for a rock band versus running a page for a veterinary hospital or a restaurant.

3: Am I making forward progress and do my clients, and potential clients, like what my online presence delivers for them?

Social media, is a element of a marketing strategy, not a marketing strategy in itself. It is a tool to achieve your goals. And those goals can be quite ethereal. If social media is not working for you, then it is time to try something else or learn from those who doing what you want to be able to do.

It is not a race.

It is not a competition.

It is a tool.

It makes no sense to judge yourself, or even the tool, by how others use it.

Comments, good, bad, and indifferent are always welcome – flame away!   

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