It’s very easy for numbers to become an obsession. Most things in life can be boiled down to the bare figures, from business success (or otherwise) to how much it costs in gas to heat the house. There are many numbers you really need to keep an eye on – with the bank balance probably at the top of the list for most people.
A very modern number to be obsessed with is your social media follower count, or Facebook ‘likes’. Both on a personal and business level there’s a tendency for these figures to be considered their own barometer of success or popularity. This can drive a perceived need to keep doing things that push these numbers higher, even if only for the sake of doing so. A drop feels like failure.
The measure of social media success is different for everyone. In many cases the bottom line will be about converting eyes on the message, ultimately, into sales. For others simply being seen and heard is important for maintaining their profile which, in turn brings business. The problem with going down that road is that it can start to look increasingly desperate, even you are actually not, and your social stream can start to resemble the very thing that the medium is categorically not about i.e. a sales pitch.
Think about a small business that’s trying to make the best of the time and resources available to it. The harassed owner could be spending a disproportionate amount of effort trying to be seen on Twitter. That might result in what they would consider a healthy follower count. The problem is that while people might be interested in what you have to say about your day-to-day dealings (at least on a skimming-over-it-as-they-peruse-their-personal-feed kind of way) it might not be the most effective method of turning them into paying clients.
Quality is what counts. In very simple terms, it’s better to be focused on meeting the needs of 200 followers who are likely to return and buy from you time and again than to obsess about keeping up a 2000-strong list of automated ‘bots’ and people who have forgotten why they followed you in the first place.
Many of those 200 are also likely to become advocates for your brand or product, thereby spreading your messages much more widely than you would ever achieve talking to an echo chamber.
What does this mean in practice? The lesson to be learned is that time spent pumping out content on a schedule or just for the sake of keeping up your evident activity is likely to be a hiding to nothing. On the other hand, time spent engaging in a human and thoughtful way with the people who actively engage with you has the potential to create those lasting customer relationships and develop your followers as advocates.
One thing’s for sure though; it’s not all about the numbers.
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