Thousands upon thousands of social media followers… that’s the dream, right? Not if those people don’t care about your brand, agency, or job ads. After all, good social media management takes a considerable amount of effort so there needs to be a positive return on your investment.
With this in mind, we’ll look at:
- Quality vs. quantity
- The importance of engagement
- What makes a social media following valuable
More Followers Doesn’t Equal Credibility (Sometimes Less is More)
Often we’re swayed by the big numbers, the social accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. But there are plenty of ways to game the system; it’s easy to buy followers, it’s easy to follow/follow back, and it’s easy to build a large, irrelevant audience.
However, you won’t get much interaction with this approach. You’ll be unlikely to market your services effectively, and a poor quality following is usually untargeted and unsegmented. This means your brand’s messages will be diluted and all of the effort spent in creating and maintaining this following has little (if any) return.
So, the first thing to note is it’s all contextual. A small following, if it’s engaged, is worth far more than a mass of followers who have no interest in your brand or agency.
Engagement is Valuable
Of course, more followers are certainly worth targeting, but your real goal should be engagement. Does your audience like, share, and comment on your blog posts, social updates, podcasts, and videos? If it doesn’t, there’s something wrong.
Not every social media update will make a splash, but the majority should have some sort of interaction from your audience. Otherwise you’re just going through the motions. You should have a relevant following across your social accounts so when you do share content, it resonates.
As Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO at Serial Entrepreneur, notes: ‘We need to stop focusing on optimising the number of views and instead concentrate on making each one of those viewers’ care (my emphasis) about your brand. Because, at the end of the day, that’s the only way you’ll drive results to your end goal.’
You need to know your audience, its likes (and dislikes), your market, and your competitors in order to increase engagement. This allows you to craft and curate relevant messages to reach the right people provoking a response and leading to a better return in terms of interaction.
Consider the engagement on your last 5 - 10 social updates. What would a good level of interaction look like to you? That’s the first place to start in determining your success on social media.
Then consider what you want that audience to do. Do you want them to subscribe to your blog? Apply for a job? Is there a relevant, clear CTA? Again, define the results that would make your efforts worthwhile, then use that as a metric to judge how engaged your following is.
Judging the Value of Your Following
When considering the value of your social media following, look at how much time you spend managing and engaging with your audience. Compare that with the return you get on your efforts. You’ll quickly see if something is out of balance.
It’s worth noting that too much interaction will result in a decrease in terms of quality. If you’re overwhelmed, then you won’t be able to create thoughtful responses that resonate. Instead you’ll be stuck going through the motions. This will result in less engagement from your audience. So, if you’re spending too much time running your social media profiles, it will cost you in the long run.
Remember: you can automate sharing, but not engagement. Don’t get sucked in to poor quality conversations, instead pick your interactions carefully and keep your goals in mind. The value of your following is in what it brings back to your business so don’t be afraid to put a stop to anything that isn’t working for you.
For a more in-depth conversation on determining social media ROI, here’s an excellent blog from Hootsuite, written by Dara Fontein, titled: ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media ROI’
Hallmarks of an Engaged Audience
Your following is only valuable when it contributes to the success of your agency. So, determine a strategy with clear goals and milestones you can measure. Social media has the best return when it’s driven by purpose. You need to know what you hope to achieve and what success will look like.
Good engagement and a sense of community are hallmarks of an engaged audience. Regardless of size, that’s what you should be aiming for. So, focus on quality in every aspect of your social efforts. Then you can think about growing that following.
Andy Mckendry is a copywriter with an MA in Professional Writing. In the early mornings he is known to gravitate towards the nearest coffee pot.