Was just having a conversation with Ilya about Facebook fans, and one of the thoughts that came up in the conversation was:
How would the way that brands perceive the value of a Facebook fan change, if we had no way to see how many fans other brands had?
The idea being that the current era of social media centers most heavily around the collection of fans and followers as a means to validate your brand’s standing in the [social media] world. And the ability to see what everyone else has, makes brands and marketers constantly insecure about their own audience sizes. And this visibility into everyone else’s data fuels competition that drives us all to irrationally chase bigger numbers.
Back in the day when all of our measurable stats were hidden from others (web traffic, click through rates, conversions, etc), we all focused solely on what mattered to our own businesses. We had no idea what the competition was getting, and that opacity freed us to focus on the metrics that dove our own bottom line.
The openness of the social media era has clouded our judgement and forced us to spend big not just to build our audiences, but to make sure we build our audiences bigger than the other guys.