I was recently enjoying a drink with a long-time friend. We were joking about the respective number of followers on Twitter that he has over what I have.
Not that I am in the business of being popular – especially not on Twitter, which is a service in general I do not like.
He has more than 1,000 followers. I have only a few in either my real persona or my alter ego’s persona.
However, the proportion of who follows me to who I follow is disproportional – I only follow people who either I like (in the personal, not Facebook sense) or have coerced me to follow them. (Thank you to Abacus’s Brett Henry).
What I am finding hard to understand is how many people are so seduced by the concept of popularity on Facebook and other people - the Ashton Kutcher Syndrome of being popular clearly trades quality for quantity.
And this is the core problem. As with my post here last week on privacy, I am having a hard time understanding the lack of focus on quality of message and the attendant trust.
There is a recent study by eMarketer based on data from Invoke Solutions.
It seems to confirm the proposition that popularity in social media does not equate to quality in delivery of message and, ultimately, trust.
Trust is not measured by the number of people involved. For example the number of people who use TripAdvisor should not be construed as a measurement of trust in the service.
Similarly the use of the “Like” button on Facebook does not translate into a measurement of trust of that person, product, movement or service.
Privacy to me is very important. Trust is very important. Where I struggle is that there is a core threat to the notion of value online. And we seem not to be setting a good example for those who follow us.
For example, the move to a general convention of forcing opt out of anti-privacy behavior rather than making strong privacy the default position worries me greatly.
Now that we can see that the quality of the message is more important than the quantity of people ingesting it, I think that it is time for the marketers and online service providers to pay far greater attention to trust and privacy.
One final thought. I am very worried that the term “opt out” is also being abused.
In Europe, there is a clear sense that one can opt out of data collection. Not so in other parts of the world.
We need to focus on the consumer having the choice to opt out of the data collection and storage of that data. So far I am finding that very hard to get from the ultimate data collection machine - the Googlepus at the heart of the Googleplex.