Digital noise: How bad is it, really? [Quantification]

Digital Noise

It seems like we talk about “digital noise” a lot — and that it’s probably a true concept. There are a lot of people with “personal branding” these days via various social media platforms, easy-to-install websites ala WordPress, and more. Think of it this way in the simplest terms: in 1994, some random dude in Ohio probably didn’t have a major audience for his thoughts. Now that’s not only possible, it’s in some ways expected that there’s probably some dude in Ohio with 15,000 LinkedIn followers hanging on his breathless professional updates. The world has changed a lot in terms of how we communicate and share ideas in just about two decades.

You add social media automation into this, and there’s a lot of stuff going out every minute. We’ve all seen the situation where there’s a school shooting or something awful, and because of automation, half of Twitter is like “Buy my course today! 10% off!” It’s like, “Um, bad timing here…” I digress. Point is: there seems to be a lot of digital noise, but how much exactly? Let’s see if we can quantify this. We’ll do three or four platforms, K?

Digital noise: Facebook

This is the big fish. They have about 1.86 billion active users, and there are about 63 million business pages now. Every minute, there are about 293,000 statuses updated and 136,000 photos posted. If you want to get down to the second on that, it’s around 4,883 status updates every second. And of course, because of how algorithms work, you see nary a fraction of that — just your own bubble.

Digital noise: LinkedIn

Not the biggest LinkedIn fan all the time, and have addressed some of their posting numbers before. If you count everyone (so not just the Bill Gateses of the world), there are somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million pieces of writing posted per month. Take the low end — 500K — and that’s 12 new articles per minute. Take the high end and it’s 24 new articles per minute. Do you even read 24 articles in a given day? Probably not. Again, some digital noise here.

Digital noise: Twitter

There are about 6,000 tweets sent per second on average. You can do the rest of the math from there. While we’re in this section, though: you know the most amazing thing about Twitter? It’s been so essential to these major world events — Arab Spring, Trump, etc. — and yet, most people don’t care about it because it’s not hyper-growth. Trump rode them to a victory in some respects, and then he didn’t even invite their execs to his tech meeting during transition. Ha. Our growth culture is going to bury us all.

Digital noise: Snapchat

There are 2.5 billion Snaps per day, according to their IPO filings. Considering they only have about 301 million monthly users or so, people be Snapping like crazy. Still, it constitutes a lot of digital noise.

What can be done about all this digital noise?

Unclear, because the problem right now is that people view “content” as “anything I posted that isn’t an ad.” That’s not really exactly what “content” is/was supposed to mean, but the definition has certainly blown up recently. The problem with all this digital noise, of course, is two-fold: first of all, a lot of people are saying/sharing the exact same ideas. Noise on top of noise is a cacophony. Benefits no one. The second problem is supply-demand. The supply is going up (digital noise) but the demand is static or going down (people’s available time to consume all these posts).


That’s probably where “content marketing” doesn’t always deliver the business results, even though every landing page you arrive at promises 47,899 percent growth via an eBook download.

Buzzword time!

Would stand to reason that the digital noise problem will continue to create a focus on real relationships, whether or not those begin online or offline. If you’re seeing 6,000 tweets per second, there’s no way a human brain can process all that. You’ll want to cut through it to the people who matter and whose opinion or viewpoint you seek. Relationships will build that way, and business comes from that. Increasingly, referral will be more important — if someone needs a SEO guy and finds 91 posts about SEO guys, they won’t go through 91 posts. They will ask someone they trust.

A quick note on social media influencers now too: they get a bunch of shit these days. Some is warranted; some is not. There are good ones who try to have an unique viewpoint and do interesting stuff on the platforms. Of course, there are also horrible ones that clog us all up with digital noise and buzzword-laden vomit. It’s a mixed ecosystem. The most amazing thing about most influencers, though, is that their accounts are about 93 percent automated; so even though they preach “connection,” you’ll never really connect with them — unless they want/need something from you.

Second problem is The Shrine of Big Numbers. We tend to think of influencers as “the people with the highest follower counts,” which is true in some cases — although admittedly it makes more sense to do a more targeted approach to what that term means.

In a world of so much digital noise, going after the “big numbers” seems like folly. Why not go after the targets you seek instead?

What else might you add on digital noise?

Ted Bauer


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