The Problem of Wanting Followers Just for the Sake of Having More Followers
Are you trying to get more followers on Twitter? Or maybe it’s your Facebook or Instagram accounts that you’d like to boost. On LinkedIn, you might not be counting your business page followers as closely as on the other platforms, but you may be watching your connection count. But the question has to be asked:
Are these follower numbers actually helpful?
It’s understandable that people will look at your follower count, because it’s right there at the top of most social media pages. You can’t miss it! But what if all of the platforms removed that count from public view? What would happen to the way that we share content and value our followers?
In fact, since I originally drafted this blog post, Facebook has started to phase out listing the number of followers from public view on most business pages. It looks like soon the follower count will only be available privately for page admins. Why?
More Followers Does Not Equal a Better Business
The race for more followers is contributing to Twitter’s overall decline. Brands are posting dozens of times a day in the fight to be noticed. With everyone trying to capture attention for themselves, the result is an increasingly noisy space and Twitter users have stopped paying much attention to each other. All that noise has made Twitter a less appealing social space these days. An interesting article entitled, Can Twitter Solve Its Engagement Problem?, addresses the challenges that Twitter is facing.
Everyone wants to attract more followers, and even though people don’t realize it, it’s turning Twitter into a popularity contest. While it’s true that more followers can also mean more people to sell your product or service to, your efforts will fall on deaf ears if you aren’t attracting the right kind of followers.
Judging a Book by Its Cover
As social media marketers, clients look at our social profiles and sometimes judge us based on our follower count. The same thing happens with other kinds of businesses, too. People look at the number of followers a brand has, and use it as a rating system to determine the quality of that brand. If you have lots of followers, it must mean that you have a really good business, right? Unfortunately, in many instances, this is simply not the case.
Are We Playing the Wrong Game?
Everyone is trying to attract more followers, but there’s been a shift towards quantity over quality. Worse yet, there’s the terrible follow-so-that-they’ll-follow-you-and-then-unfollow-them game. Some businesses are now so focused on getting more followers that they play these unfollowing games just to boost their follower count.
And let’s not forget, you can now buy followers on Twitter. By the thousands! And for as little as five dollars! Ding, ding, ding!
Buying followers might hold a certain attraction for you. Admittedly, even I thought about buying followers briefly–very briefly! And I’m someone who knows better! When I transitioned from working as an independent marketing contractor to launching Barker Social, I had to start at zero followers. The thought of building up a follower base from nothing was daunting, especially when I knew that potential clients would see our follower numbers. But I quickly talked myself out of it for three reasons:
3 Reasons Not to Buy Social Media Followers:
- Paid-for followers’ accounts are fake accounts, not real users and not our potential customers
- It would be inauthentic and diminish the integrity and credibility of our brand
- We would be playing into the unfortunate “social media popularity contest” which focuses on the quantity of followers and not on reaching target demographics
Luckily, as a new business we have an excuse for low follower counts, and as professional marketers we know how to build up our follower base gradually and steadily by attracting real target followers who will actually be interested in our content.
So here’s a crazy thought—what if we all started to:
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Having more followers isn’t necessarily better. Having more followers that actually want to hear what you have to say? Well, that’s a different story.
If we could each look at the integral nature of our brand and the target followers that we want to attract, and then cater quality content according to the desires of those target followers, the effectiveness of our social media efforts would skyrocket.
When you try to measure your success by the number of followers that you have, you’re measuring the wrong metric. Instead of viewing social media as a popularity contest, look at it as a marketing tool. Use social media to hone in on your real potential customers. Get to know them. Give them a chance to get to know you. Be primarily social and conversational while providing helpful information.
When you shift your thinking towards quality content, you can create a social media community that consists of real target customers.
Remember, it’s not really more followers that you want. If the people who are following you don’t care about your business and your message and are only following you as part of a big game, then what’s the point?
Your goal should be to grow your business, and the only way to do that is by reaching the people who actually care about what you have to offer. When you engage the right people, in both the short term and the long term you increase the likelihood that they’ll become your customers. And that’s what really matters.