One of the most frequent questions asked during social media training is “how do I increase my followers?”. This is usually associated with a comparison to the competition and a business being concerned that they don’t have as many followers on social media as their direct competition. Social media continues to change and develop and when businesses first used social media as a marketing tool the number of followers was an important metric to consider but does it really still matter how many followers you have?
Fundamentally all businesses have to have followers on social media. If you create the best content in the world but don’t have any followers no-one will ever see it. Even the best sales teams in the world can’t convert an empty room and without followers, your message on social media simply won’t be heard. Fundamentally without any followers, social sales, sign-ups, and recommendations are impossible to achieve. Having a very low number of followers or none at all could make potential customers less likely to follow you on social media if they have a choice of you or a competitor who has significantly more. A low number of followers could also make you look less relevant to the platforms. When you are in competition with others for time and space on timelines and news feeds there is an argument that you will be less likely to see if you have fewer followers as it could be a signal that you are inactive or simply less relevant to the same customers.
A large number of followers doesn’t, however, guarantee you success. The wrong type of followers or followers who aren’t interested in you or your product won’t help you either. If you have a store, would you rather have 10,000 people who walk past your store every day, look in the window but never come in or 100 people who come into your store and buy from you? If none of your followers are interested in the content you create for social media then it could even damage your status with the different platforms. If you create content that your audience never share, retweet, comment on or like then it would be seen as being less relevant making you even less likely to be seen. A large number of disengaged followers could, therefore, be much more harmful.
Attracting followers simply to increase your numbers is of little use to any business. Attracting followers in the right way, however, is vital to success. Yes, you have to have followers but what all businesses should really focus on isn’t the number but the quality of the followers. Just because you have more followers doesn’t mean that you will get more engagement and it is engagement with your audience that is core to success on social media. A lower number of relevant followers is worth so much more than a large number of disengaged followers. Engaged followers will share, like, love, comment etc. all of which will help you to reach a wider audience. The more you engage with your followers the more likely they are to remember you when they are ready to purchase. If you catch them at the right time in the buying process they are not only more likely to stay loyal to you but also to recommend you to others.
The number of followers you have has become less important as it is an engagement that will drive your social media success. Ideally, the perfect combination would be to have a large number of interested followers but that takes a detailed strategy and a consistent approach to achieve.