There's one thing in social media that seems to be prized above all else: your number of followers.
Businesses maniacally compare theirs to their competitors. Social media influencers do all they can to gain tens or hundreds of them each day.
Consultants create blog post after blog post offering tips and techniques to help you get thousands of them in just a week…
But there's one thing that all of these people are missing: Your follower count does not matter.
Whether you have 100 followers or 100,000 followers, it makes no difference.
Bold statement, right? But, it's true.
In the age of bots, spam accounts, and apps that game the follower system, the number of followers you or your company has means almost nothing.
Too many companies take the approach that bigger is better when it comes to social media. That a business with 10,000 followers is better than a business with 1,000 followers.
But this could not be further from the truth.
The number of followers a business has can be a sign of success, sure. But, it rarely is.
Often, when talking to a new client about a social media campaign, the most pressing question they have on their minds is: how many followers can you get us?
While seeing an increase in followers is absolutely part of a successful social media campaign or strategy, more followers should never be a single or primary goal.
Because followers are a vanity metric that means nothing and achieves nothing 90% of the time.
If your goal is just to get thousands of followers for your business, that can happen in seconds. Head over to Google, type in “buy Twitter/Instagram/Facebook followers/likes”, hand over some money, and voila…
Or for a more realistic growth trajectory built around actual human followers (rather than bots), hop over to Tweepi, or Instagress (editor's note: since shut down), or Archie, or any number of the other automated or semi-manual follow/unfollow apps that are out there and can help you juice your follower count in no time.
But if you want to actually grow your business, and I hope you do, you need to look beyond your follower count.
You need to look to engagement.
Engagement Rate is a measure of quality or efficiency and is calculated as engagement volume divided by the number of users or events that could have triggered the action. Examples are engagement rate per follower, applause rate per unique impression, etc. (source)
Focussing on engagement isn't new, it's something good social media managers and agencies have been talking about for a while, but it's still the one thing most people overlook.
There's a reason for this: increasing engagement is tough.
High levels of engagement mean giving your followers (however large or small the audience) things they want to see constantly.
It means having almost every tweet, post, or share knock it out the park.
It means understanding what your customers want, when they want it, and how they want it.
That’s a hard thing to do.
No wonder so many business owners shy away from focussing on engagement and instead stick to gaining hundreds or thousands of useless or fake followers.
But, engagement has the power to do something that a follower count alone does not: actually affect your business.
Engagement matters because it’s a direct reflection of how your business’ message is performing.
It’s a daily performance metric that tells you if what you’re saying is actually working.
When the content you share on social media hits the right spot and gives your audience what it wants and when it wants it, it gets liked, retweeted, or shared - and all of this helps to grow your business.
Similarly, poor engagement rates can give you really valuable information that you can use to make your business better. If you pay attention, and I hope you do, you can spot trends of low engagement…
“I've posted a photo of this drink 4 times and each time it's performed much worse than my other posts, maybe it doesn't look good enough, or maybe the photo really isn't that great…?”
All of this data and insight is far more useful than having thousands of fake followers or hundreds of people who don't care about your brand.
If right now you're wondering how to increase your engagement (or even how to find out your engagement rate), don't worry: we’re busy putting together the ultimate guide to engagement rates and it'll be ready very soon.
We'd love to help you grow. Whether you're starting from scratch or have it all together, we're here to help.
Send us a message and we'll get back to you within 24 hours to take things further
Maade is a content and social media agency based in London
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