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Don't Focus on the Numbers

16 March 2011

Hello, Social Rabbit here with your guide to the world of social media.

Lots of people get very worked up over the number of friends they have on Facebook, the number of followers they have on Twitter, the number of connections on LinkedIn, the number of \"likers\" on their Facebook page, the number of blog subscribers and so it goes on.......

Are you one of those?

Well listen up Rabbit readers, I'll let you into a secret - it's not just about the numbers, it's also about the quality of people you have following you, connecting with you, friending you etc.

So now that I have let the cat out of the bag, I'd like to bring it back to real life.  Have you ever been to a networking event where one person goes around the room giving EVERYONE their card?  I think we have probably all seen that person, they don't stop to talk, they just say hello and give their card and move on - there is a whole room full of people who as yet don't have their card, no time to stop and chat!

Remember that social networking is the same as networking in real life, you want to stop and chat, don't just collect people like the guy who gives out all his cards - thank goodness that Facebook have limited friends on a personal profile to 5,000 - imagine if it wasn't limited... I bet someone would try to be friends with all 500 million people!

What I am rabbiting on about is that you want to build quality relationships with people, not just collect them like stamps.  I think that you do need a certain number of people to get the consistent quality of interactions that you want, but you don't need to go crazy and say ok I've got 5,000 now I need to reach 10,000, instead of trying to get more, start interacting with those you already have.

I look at people like Ashton Kutcher on Twitter with over 5 million followers, there is absolutely no way he can have a relationships with all those people (if you are reading this Ashton feel free to argue with me on this!).  However Ashton is a celeb and his followers are fans, who probably follow to get the latest Ashton goss and if he tweeted a reply to them might faint!  For the rest of us mere mortals I am not saying don't build up your audience, but remember that just because you have a Facebook page with 10,000 people does not mean you have a better page than someone with 1,000 people.  It is all about how much they chat to you, you listen to them and the relationship you have.

Here's an example for you, I built up my Mocks Facebook page to over 10,500 fans in 2 months, you can read the Mocks case study on it.  Basically I offered everyone who became a fan by a certain date a free Mock (mobile phone sock), they had to join the page and then email us with their name and address for the freebee.  Yes we built up the page very quickly for a small brand ($1.4m turnover) with a very small marketing budget, but I knew in doing it that the people were not all going to be quality people, I knew many would join just for the freebee.  So why did I bother?  I wanted to increase brand awareness and trial, I wanted to break into the USA market.  Has it worked?  Yes short term I got the results, however we are now hovering around the 16,000 likers number where we have been for about the last 4 months.  It is not that people are no longer joining the page, but instead that more people are leaving the page than are joining.  Those non-quality people who joined for a freebee are not sticking around because they are not getting more freebees.  But I achieved my objective - awareness.

All I am asking you to do is think about why getting to 5,000 or whatever is your golden number is so important, because if you can turn the 1000 people you are already engaging with into ambassadors for your business/brand you are going to reach so many more people through who they tell.

What do you think?



  • Beate Duesterwald

    Beate Duesterwald 9 years ago

    I agree with Estelle (and you, Lara), the quality of the connections that you build through social media is important for your brand. A large number of followers should be the result of meaningful engagement with the audience. Having clear objectives for your social media presences is a good start to attract followers that find it interesting to interact with you.However, celebrities might be an exception to the recommendation because they can attract a large crowd without actively searching for and interacting with them. A million followers (e.g. on twitter) would consist of a small active community and a large passive group of followers.But I believe it’s important for SMEs to focus on quality as well as numbers of followers.

  • Estelle Williams

    Estelle Williams 9 years ago

    You've hit the nail on the head Lara. People need to be engaged in this social media world we have evolved into. And it is all about relationships, not about numbers. There will always be people who want to take shortcuts to get the same result, but quality over quantity still wins out every time. I think that product based businesses can tolerate more casual social relationships than service based businesses but with more and more service businesses creating information products based on their services, the divide disappears. I like your point about those 1000 followers being ambassadors for your business which points to the true viral nature of social marketing.