If you’re anything like me, you’ve been inundated with requests lately from contacts and companies that you follow to vote for them in the “Social Madness” Competition that’s currently going on.

The DC rankings are here. View the rules here.

I love a good competition as much as the next person, I really do. But after numerous requests to vote for companies in a social media contest (many that use social media poorly), I have to ask “why?”

If you just started a Facebook page, have a dozen or so followers on Twitter and have a blog with ten or fifteen posts…why enter a social media contest? Why not get your “sea legs” and find your voice a little bit before entering a competition? Why not spend additional time building connections with your audience, friends, fans and followers?

I don’t want to take away from some of the awesome firms and businesses in the competition – there are some great ones. But as marketers, we tout the use of social media to build connections, to enhance dialog with our clients and potential clients, to build our brands…and much more.

Furthermore, we often seek to shift the focus away from fan counts, ROI (as it relates to direct sales) and other short-term metrics to emphasize the long-term value of our web presence and client loyalty.

Can we accurately say “it’s not about the number of fans” to management in one breath, while pleading for votes and fans in the other?

I believe strongly that the practice of social media is about the quality of interaction, not the quantity. The award or reward comes from your clients’ feedback and the additional dialog you can develop with industry professionals, not from a promise of exposure for your social media accounts to a mixed bag of readers. What makes sense for a small residential architecture firm does not makes sense for a large commercial contractor – or a restaurant, IT consultant or a membership association for that matter.