Why I don't care how many people follow you on Twitter

Why I don’t care how many people follow you on Twitter

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In social media many people seem to be obsessed about size. How to get more Twitter followers, how to get people to Like us on Facebook, how to get more readers for our blog. But these are the wrong questions to ask for the wrong reasons. I don’t care how many people follow you on Twitter or Like you on Facebook, and focusing on this often sends a brand in the wrong direction with social media.

There is much discussed about social media metrics and ROI, every presentation giving a different set of things to measure, using the various different numbers that social media and analytics tools present to us. On one hand this is a great thing; we are awash with different things that can be measured and different information we can use to evaluate our efforts. But it can cause us to obsess about something not because it is necessarily important, but just because we can measure it.

I don’t care how many people follow you on Twitter; I care about how many of those are useful to you.

It can be relatively easy for some brands to grow the number of followers or Likes; advertising is one way, or attracting large audiences to one piece of content, and there are tools you can use to attract followers. But this does not necessarily mean that you have the right people, nor that they will pay any attention to your brand and what you say in the longer term. A Like or a follow is a low-effort action for somebody, it does not mean they really do like you, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they will be paying attention to what you say. In some cases these followers might not even be human.

But the bigger problem with a focus on amassing more Likes and followers as a social media strategy is that this drives the wrong behaviour for the wrong reasons.

Twitter can be a great customer service channel, for example, but people do not need to follow you for them to interact with you about a product or service question. In fact you may not want the, to do so – following you will just mean that they see all the questions and issues that you are dealing with. I know of some large organisations that actually aim to get as few followers as possible, focusing rather on how many issues they successfully resolve as a measure.

The real thinking about social media ROI should be like this. Just because we can measure something (and there are lots of things we can measure) does not make the, useful. Whether an organisation or an individual we should think first about what we want to get out of using the channel and then focus our efforts and targets on these things. Is it about the traffic we drive to an e-commerce site, the genuine new business contacts we make, changing perception of our brand, or reaching out to niche groups of people.

Whatever our aim, the size of our following is probably not the most important thing for us to measure and focusing on this will often make us miss the more important business benefits we can get. Of course we may need to reach out to a large number of people, but only the right people for the right reasons, and our measures should be more focused on business benefit than these numbers alone.

So size does not necessarily matter in social media. It’s what you do with the people you engage that counts; and what they do with you. Targets that are set on size alone risk driving perverse, and possibly unproductive behaviour and will mean that you are almost certainly missing out on the real benefits social could bring.

Photo credit: Crowd Snow Patrol Live Concert @ Rockhal Luxembourg-52 by Kmeron