I saw a link today on Twitter to a tool called Klout. Klout is a cute and interesting Twitter analytics tool that graphs your profile activity onto a 4 quadrant graph. By measuring your total audience and engagement, they place you in one of four categories: casual, connector, climber or persona. It's a novel and valid way to measure the activity of a given Twitter account.
What concerns me is there is an inherent bias in the textual descriptions that it's important to move to "higher" categories. The implicit statement is that everyone should aspire to have more followers and more engagement. I see this over and over in different tools, and I see it discussed among social media professionals and marketers. It's complete hogwash.
Most people using social media are not marketers. They don't really care about gaining large numbers of friends or followers. They want to connect with friends, family and people with similar interests. They share information about their lives and the things the love. They don't look for analytics on their profile.
I'm a professional social media marketer. I derive my income from designing and executing social marketing strategies for major brands. My social media accounts are not a test lab for my work. I only accept friend requests from people I know on Facebook, and I only send invites to people I know well. On Twitter, I follow people I know and people who make me laugh. My goals for my personal profiles are to connect with those who I know and love, not to promote myself. I believe the work I do for my clients is far more impressive than any follower count I could ever achieve.
That said, if you are a potential customer or partner for one of the brands I represent, you can bet that I'm doing everything I can to reach out to you in a non-intrusive way via company profiles or advertising. I want brand profiles to reach the largest relevant audience and to engage as many members of that audience as possible. Companies and people have completely different goals in social media.
It's important that we marketers, new media gurus and brands don't lose site of who is creating a revolution in social media--regular people.