Does your number of followers matter on social media?

  • Article by: SCOTT KLEINBERG , Chicago Tribune
  • Updated: December 20, 2013 - 2:26 PM

Should we value quality over quantity on social media?

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In social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game.

In the case of a business — or even a personal rivalry — it’s hard not to question everything when someone else has 10,000 Twitter followers and you have 2,000. But unlike other things in life, size doesn’t always matter.

On social networks, quality can sometimes trump quantity. If, of those 10,000 Twitter followers, you have a regular conversation with four of them, that 10,000 is just a number. But if the person with 2,000 Twitter followers can identify 100 or 200 people by name, the person with a smaller following is the winner.

Pretty basic stuff, right? Then why do we get so caught up in numbers? Because we’re competitive, and for that we can blame the social media platforms themselves.

Twitter and Facebook often talk about the importance of quality content, friends and sharing. As they should. So why are the numbers so front and center on these sites? In fairness, Facebook has recently moved away from showcasing the number of friends and subscribers, but it’s still front and center on Twitter. There’s a certain cachet to being Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga or the president of the United States and boasting about your following. But the average person or business shouldn’t be so focused on an arbitrary number.

So in lieu of numbers, here’s what you should consider when chronicling your social media successes:

• How often do you engage? You have to be a part of the conversation to have a meaningful conversation. Posting once a week and expecting benefits is silly. For maximum impact, create a solid plan and calendar to determine what you are going to post and when.

• What kind of content are you posting? There’s a huge difference between posting a link and never looking back and having a back-and-forth with your followers/fans. Remember that if you want people to share your content and tell their friends about you, you need to give them a reason. So instead of focusing on the numbers, focus on what you are trying to convey in your posts. If your content is awesome, the people will find you.

• Are you more visible with social than without? Say you’re a medium-sized flower shop with 50 Twitter followers. Now let’s say you run a special for 10 percent off roses on Valentine’s Day and you seal 10 deals. Would you consider a sale to 10 people out of 50 to be a success? Probably. Always focus on the end result.

• Three networks or 30? Just because a social network exists doesn’t mean you need to be on it, and that goes for personal and business scenarios. Often, people will create empty goals to reach 100 followers by such and such a date. Why? Are your friends/customers even there? Why are you there? Ask yourself why it’s important and if you come up with a solid reason, then make a plan.

If you don’t remember any of those tips, remember this: Good social media is the same as good customer service. You are successful whether you make one person happy or 200.

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