When the World Wide Web became ultimately woven with Social Networks, I found that the analytics of social media are the new topics to Math

The number of tools that surfaced over the past few years aiming to help businesses calculate the impact of their social media reach outnumbered all the Linux released since RadioShack revealed the first rotary-modem! The amount of misinformation forming the basis of these fraudulent computations is forming even a bigger market that can only be compared to the Weight Loss industry-- they make you feel good by showing users’ testimonies and too-good-to-be-true results.

Companies who are after promoting your entity on Social Networks, as well as the Social Networks themselves, are into it for the money. I don’t even want to entertain the idea that they are doing this to make you more popular or to help you spread an opinion or a thought – unless that thought will be bringing more advertisement revenue. For me, this will be a rare moment where I will utilize my Mathematical half while uncovering the lid from a jar holding an unregulated shady business sauce. For sure I am going to upset some big names in the field and Social Media stars, but it is due to happen and I owe apology to no one.

What prompted me to dig deeper into this was the exaggerated volume of “reach”. What is a social media reach? Is it true that one tweet gets a 100 retweets but generates 100 million impressions? It was never convincing to me and I got tired of rolling my eyes every time somebody asks me to explain social media statistics. I now role my eyes once for every 1,000,000 impressions, and I still get tired.

To explain where the numbers are coming from, I am going to travel to a Planet that is currently uninhabited (let’s call it Planet Zift); you are coming with me, so that will make the population Zift two people. We’re adding a network and we will join a social media platform Ziftbook.com, and since we are connected we will run some uninfluenced metrics that is monitored by a company from planet Earth called PlunderCrap.

PlunderCrap sends a social media post to be shared on Ziftbook. You will post it on your Ziftline and your only friend (that is me) should be able to see it. If I noticed the post and ended up sharing it on my Ziftline then you too will be able to see it. Now we both know that the maximum reach for this post can go up to 2, but that is not what PlunderCrap is reporting. The report will read that the post reached 4 individuals: the person who originally posted the topic (you) plus your sole friend (me), and the same post was shared by someone (that is also me) who have one more friend (that's you again);  PlunderCrap will add another 2 impressions anyway. On any given day, the total reported reach for any post will be doubled even if the final number exceeds the targeted population by 100%. If the client is paying PlunderCrap by the reach, that client is doomed.

I know what you are thinking, it’s just an estimate. So let’s just assume the reach to be half of what they say it is and accept the results; and I am okay with 50% IFthat was the case, but it is not.  This scam is so chronic that if planet Zift had a second social network, the reported reach will then jump to 8 assuming we shared the same post on both networks. If we were joined by a third person, the reach per social network will be 9 and the reported reach for two social networks will be 18 for a population of only 3 living souls. With 4 people on Zift, we’re going above 30 … and 5 friends will generate 50 … and a 1000 Ziftians will be bringing 2 million impressions ... and you get the idea …

The numbering game is so frustrating to watch not only because I am a mathematician by training, but because it’s dehumanizing your intelligence as well as mine. I have done the math behind the scenes so many times to conclude that social media marketing and amplifying agencies are deliberately pulling an orchestrated scam. If you want to reach millions of people, then the formula is simple: share something the people like in a language they can read.

I invite you to check this campaign by Thunderclap that supposedly reached over 1 billion people in a span of few hours. That campaign was carried in 2012 and it was mostly in English, and when you consider that English speaking individuals on this Earth count less than 500K and internet users Worldwide were barely 1.5 billion at the time, you’re going to question the authenticity of these figures. This case is also very interesting because the actual campaign page have been concealed from the public, and it is showing only 30,000 individuals engaged in the social media campaign, but somehow generated over 1 billion in reach; an average of 35,000 reach per person, which means that every individual generated 5,000 more leads than what ThunderClap, Opera and Beyonce were able to attract. The final number of individuals reached on the actual campaign page was 1.4 million less than what is being advertised. Where did they come up with the bonus 1 and half million is beyond my guessing abilities.

ThunderClap is not the only one playing this rigged game, Twitter and Facebook analytics are in fact pulling the same trick; they even report “clicks” to my website that my server never received – and trust me I read the server log with my morning coffee daily. 
I here then fault every social media marketing agency that does not include Multilingualism as an integral part of any international reach. You don't need to show me the numbers if you don't have the product, and if the product is in one language, at least have the decency to report only numbers comparable to the count of subjects who speak that language. 

Similar to losing weight, Social media exercise requires patience and hard work; hiring a personal trainer to advise you on what to do is not a bad approach, but you are not going to achieve anything if the trainer is doing the workout  and sending you the number of burned calories.I would finally like to note that since 2012 the world added another Billion to the internet users’ database, and those new-comers are not English speakers. The best strategy to reach them is to focus on your message and making it available in a language that the people can understand and enjoy reading. You might also want to share your social media message on Networks that you are not familiar with and during a time zone that works for your followers (many of them might be asleep while you are awake). Hiring a third party company to give false numbers will not make you more popular, and will never change the fact that 1+1 will always equal to 2.