February 1, 2017

How important is the number of followers on my social media account? ....... I get this question All. The. Time!

From all sorts of people, with all sorts of different goals.

Look, I get it. You see an account that has 100,000 followers, and you want the same. You see an account with a million followers, and you want the same. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't think about my accounts hitting those kinds of numbers too.

It's an inherently natural position to want to have that "vanity metric". That one criteria by which all other accounts, including yours, is judged upon. How popular is your account? How many people know about you? How many people can you sell to?

We all want that big inflated number for a variety of reasons.

But, it is only valuable if you have the right people following you - not the right number of people.

Let's take this away from social media for a minute. Let's say you own a store and in one year 50,000 people walk through your doors. That would be good, right? That's 137 people every day of the year. But what if, for all those people who came through, only 1000 of them actually had any interest in what you were selling. And of those 1000, only 82 of them actually bought anything - all year. That means, you invested employees' time, resources, and business expenses to entertain 50,000 people, of whom only 82 actually spent money.

Now, what if instead, only 1500 people came through your store all year? That's 4 people per day. But of those 4 people each day, all of whom are loving what you're selling and are interested in your product, 2 people every day purchase something from you. That means for a fraction of the work (4 people's attention versus 137), you will have sold products to 730 people - a lot more than 82!!!

I realize these numbers are arbitrary but I hope they work to prove a very important point: it's not about the number of people, it's about the quality of the people. Obviously, if you had 50,000 people walk through the doors and 80% of them were interested in what you were selling, that would be the better scenario of either I just mentioned. But you get my point.... it's about having people interested in what you're offering!

So, yes, how many followers you have on social media does matter. You can't sell to anyone if no one is following you. You can't drive opt-ins or sign-ups if no one is following you.

But, likewise, if you have a boat-load of followers who don't give a crap about what you're offering, you can't sell to them or get any opt-ins or sign-ups from them either!

How fast your audience will grow will also depend on the size of your brand.

If you're a new, solopreneur with no existing audience, you aren't going to find 10,000 people to follow you immediately. However, if you're a well-established brand with a large mailing list and/or busy store front locations, it won't take you long to hit large following milestones.

If you're that small brand, don't compare yourself to big brands in your industry. It's not a fair comparison.

Rather than stressing about that follower count, focus on the quality of your audience.

Create content for your target customer. Provide quality service via social media. Entertain, educate, and give value to your audience. Build your brand on the audience who cares about you.

It might take a while to hit 500 followers, or 1000 followers, or 10,000 followers. That's ok!

This frivolous number doesn't mean anything to your business goals and revenue goals if you can't use that platform and that audience to build your business.

While you want to see that number of followers grow, set realistic expectation and look at long term growth, rather than short term growth (in general). Set a monthly goal to increase followers by 10% a month or by 500 followers a quarter. Understand that this will fluctuate at different intervals and daily, even weekly, monitoring of your follower counts is not a realistic representation of your brand presence on social media. It's the annual and long term growth that will drive the end results you're looking for.

Finally, rather than focusing only on this one numeric value of a follower count, instead evaluate the following criteria for more valuable insights into your social media efforts and results:

  • Engagement rates
  • Clicks to website
  • Website traffic patterns or conversions from social media sites
  • Campaign conversions
  • Social media mentions or check-ins
  • Shares of your content or posts

I hope this helps you answer that age-old question about how important the number of followers on social media really is... cuz in and of itself, it's not *really* that important!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Spot on Jenn! High numbers no doubt look good. But I have learned to be much more interested in the number of people that actually contact me, leave comments, etc. One number I like to follow is the time people spend on my site when they visit and the pages they look at. These give me a better insight as to what is working and I usually find an increase in real contact. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on quality vs quantity!

    1. I’m so glad you feel the same way, Kim! And, yes, those metrics of engagement and interaction on your site are much more important and valuable to your strategy.

  2. Personally I’ve never cared about the numbers all that much; business wise, that’s probably not the smartest strategy. Yet, it works for me because I know that if I had tens of thousands of followers that I probably wouldn’t have many more readers than I have right now.

    Yet, I do know that it’s important for some people based on the industry they’re in. For instance, a friend of mine was telling me the other day that she’s been going to meetings lately pitching some of her film projects and keeps getting asked what her social media numbers are. That’s scary, but it is what it is.

    1. You’re right, Mitch. When pitching in certain industries or trying to get any exposure, that is typically the first thing people are asked. Heck, I get called out for my number of followers all the time and questioned why I don’t have more… I give an answer similar to this post 😉 People can choose to work with me or not! But I know it is different for those in industries like your friend.

  3. It’s quality over quantity. Far too many people chase the numbers because it’s an ego game. It’s best, over time, to build a core community of loyal followers.

  4. Jenn, also as all the social networks reduce organic reach and move to pay to play (obviously FB has been doing that for the last few years) then the algorithm they use will penalize pages that have low rates of engagement rates, clicks etc. Thus their organic reach will decrease even more!

    1. YES!! Another great point that I totally failed to factor in. Thank you for pointing that out, Chris. Engagement rates are more and more important these days.

  5. Hi,
    I am from India and here people are crazy about Facebook page likes. Though most of them do not understand the ROI and other analytical elements which are very important for marketing, likes on the page gives them a psychological satisfaction. Your take?

    1. Yes, most people who are focused on growing big numbers are in it for the selfish motivations and psychological appeal of looking popular. But “looking” popular and being popular are two totally different things.

    1. Yes, obviously having more people is always a benefit. More chances to get in front of more people, more shares, more engagement, more conversions. BUT, as I stated in the post, they still have to be an audience who is going to drive those shares, likes, and conversions for you.

  6. I believe the numbers depends on what your product is or your company’s message and goals as a whole. Thanks for the input jenn!

    1. Absolutely, Roz. Each business and brand is different and has different goals and end states. These “actual” numbers are all subjective to each individual brand.

  7. Thanks for interesting article. In my case, quality of accounts does not depend on how much followers they have. for example had some sales from account which only had 1200 followers, but had no sales from account which has 10K followers

    1. You’re absolutely right, Zach. The “small” accounts can often be much higher converting accounts!

  8. I agree! It’s not about the number of people following you but WHO is following you! I loved the metaphor about people coming into the store. Great post!

Comments are closed.

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