Doctor SpinDigital FirstMonitoring, Algorithms & DataWhy Small Numbers Matter in Digital PR

Why Small Numbers Matter in Digital PR

Online, small numbers punch well above their weight class.

Contrary to popular belief, digital PR is all about small numbers.

In digital PR and online marketing, we gravitate toward big numbers. Size matters, and the bigger, the better.

We speak fondly about forging relationships and patiently building trust, but when it comes down to it, we need to reach a critical mass of people to keep our jobs.

The internet has changed the game of digital PR and online marketing in profound ways, but not when it comes to big numbers. The web has made us more, not less, focused on big data, analytics, and metrics — myself included.

But working with both big and small numbers in digital PR has taught me something extraordinary:

In a digital-first world of big data, small numbers punch well above their weight class.

As digital PR specialists, we tend to inflate the online space. We talk about how many views, shares, or likes a piece of content has gotten.

One hundred million views on Youtube forin digital PR and online marketing a great song, with a great video, performed by a celebrity artist? It happens all the time these days.

We seem to have a fear of small numbers, almost.
But we shouldn’t fear them.

Please note that I’m not discussing belief in the law of small numbers. The belief is a cognitive bias where we tend to underestimate the variability in small samples.

Let’s talk about numbers that indicate reducing time or loss.

For example, if you want your message to go viral, you should instead be optimising for making a specific number smaller:

Cycle time (time between someone being “infected” to when that person “infect” someone else).

For a piece of content to go viral, it needs to convert at a decent level, and the population size must be able to sustain its exposure. But from a mathematical perspective, what matters, is cycle time.

And the shorter the cycle time, the better.

Other examples are drop-off rates for websites and funnels:

“A good drop-off rate will depend on the industry, product, and other factors. Simply though, your drop-off rate should be as low as possible.” Source: Upflowy.

If you look for those smaller numbers, you will start to notice them everywhere.

The more I apply this thinking in digital PR, the more I wonder if the most powerful number in digital PR is the number of one.

The French poet Victor Hugo (1802-1885) said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

As a PR professional in a world full of big numbers, I believe one person or idea can change everything. I think that one action, a lead domino, has the potential to ignite a butterfly effect and that it could set off a mighty chain of events.

Our job, therefore, is to find that one person, idea, or igniting action.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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