Followers, Likes, Retweets, Subscribers… Is any of this stuff important? I’m sure you’ve listened to both sides, “get more followers” and “numbers are not important”.
There is a lot of noise on both sides, people telling you that numbers are important are usually trying to sell you some kind of software and people telling you they’re not, have 50k followers and get retweeted like crazy. So which one is it?
I’m going to tell you when and why numbers are important, or not.
Let’s take it step by step…
First of all, the most important thing is that you understand what your business objectives are and how they translate into online goals. That will make the difference and you will be able to determine if numbers, either high or low, are important for your business AND, if it’s relevant to display them on your site/blog.
How do these numbers affect your bottom line? most likely not directly, having higher Retweets than your direct competitor means nothing on the front-end. Having a bigger influence over that same competitor could mean everything and Retweets, Likes and RSS subscribers could be part of that.
The point here is that higher numbers don’t necessarily translate into profits. I know of a few individuals out there with very small communities that are very successful creating a sustainable income. In other words, when we talk about a profitable business, we should focus on dollars, not on Retweets. When we talk about reaching a bigger audience through a blog, then we focus on Retweets.
So when exactly are these numbers important?
On two different fronts:
IF (notice the big “IF”) our business objectives require that we reach a higher audience then numbers like followers, “likes” and others become a measurable item. For example, if you sell information products through a blog, then your social media strategy should include increasing those numbers.
When you create something, you need to put that creation in front of people.
For the same reason a book cover reads “Author of the Best-Seller…”. 10k monthly readers, 15k Twitter followers, 10k Likes indicates that you are a successful whatever you are, a leader in your industry or at least an important blog in your niche. People don’t join Ning communities with 8 members or share posts with 2 Retweets. This is the same reason why blogs have comment counters.
As a quick exercise, visit the blogs from different leaders in your niche and see if they display these kind of digits.
Social proof builds credibility, like it or not.
A Reality Check
Our reality check also comes on two fronts:
On external platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, there is a publicly accessible digit known as Likes or Followers, however, you have to be realistic and admit that only a tiny fraction of those digits are actually engaging or are relationships. Those could mean people that you interact with or people that consume and share your content.
If you run a Facebook Page for example, it’s very easy to get an idea on the users that actually engage with you. Just a look at the number of “Active Users” and compare with the total number of “Likes”. It looks something like this.
In this case, only 16.87% of the users are active. A higher percentage however, clicked the “Like” button and never came back to the page.
By “Internally” I mean your blog. These numbers are considered “Content Engagement”. If you want to analyze the performance of a single post, you could start by measuring visitors or pageviews and then see how many of these actually shared your content through a Retweet, a Delicious bookmark or other.
The truth is that you could be kicking ass at this level BUT, if this content is not converting then all these numbers are useless. I’m not saying traffic or content engagement are not relevant, of course they are. What I’m saying is that if tons of traffic and shares are not achieving your online goals then it means nothing.
A lot of the Retweets on posts are done without even reading a single line, they are retweeted because people share stuff for different reasons. If you have an audience, a clever headline is sometimes enough to fly. Is this bad? not necessarily, you are getting more exposure after all. I’m just saying…
My conclusion, and this is just me (you should express your thoughts in the comments section), is that numbers matter. They matter in different ways and at different levels. You are the only one that can determine that.
One of the worst things you can do is to start following people on Twitter without having a clear objective. Can you drive traffic from Twitter to your blog? You bet… Can you get Retweeted? of course you can… the question is: For what?
Also, to make it very clear, these numbers are highly addictive and can waste a lot of your valuable time. Not recommended for people that gets distracted by shiny objects. Like my wife ; )
What are thoughts? Do you care about social proof? What is your business goal behind having more followers? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and please… feel free to disagree!
One more thing before you go, please share this post! =)