Too Hung Up on the Numbers: Why You Should Stop Fussing Over Follower Count
In the field of psychology, there’s this human condition called Monomania. An amalgam of the Greek word monos, meaning one, and the word mania, meaning madness, Monomania is a condition in which an individual possesses a singular preoccupation that borderline on insanity. The foremost example of this obsessive trait can be suit in Melville’s Moby Dick, where Captain Ahab’s fixation on the titular whale eventually doomed him and the rest of his crew save for Ishmael. While there’s virtue in striving for excellence, that very same pursuit can be dangerous if it devolves into the unhealthy obsession as shown in Monomania.
I’m not saying this for nothing because often, you can easily spot traits of Monomania in how we deal with marketing. SEO services and marketers tend to get too bogged down on Google rankings while at the same time, social media services tend to get too hung up on numbers like follower and like counts. They are indeed important metrics on the practice of social media marketing and while seeing that glorious M (signifying a million followers) will definitely be welcomed, numbers aren’t everything and often, it’s what you do with those numbers that matter more in the long run.
The social part of social network
Think of it this way, when you’re attending a class, a seminar, or any variations thereof, would you prefer a smaller or a bigger audience? From my personal experience at least, being in a relatively smaller class in college helped foster a better two-way relationship between the professor and the students while in a bigger class, lectures can seem more of a one-way street. This also applies to social media accounts as there won’t be much in the way of interaction between businesses or public figures and their followers which runs contrast to why these social media platforms exist in the first place.
I’m only active on Instagram and based on my personal experience there, I’ve had much better interactions with accounts whose follower only numbers in the thousands and tens of thousands range compared to those whose follower are in the millions. There are of course exceptions to the rule but typically, as the follower count goes up, the engagement part goes down. What I’m trying to say here is that from an audience’s perspective, how you decide to actually interact with your followers matter more than how many people are supposedly paying attention to what you have to say. This is important because ultimately, what your follower thinks of you matters more than something as nebulously defined as your popularity.
A higher follower doesn’t imply a higher level of authority
Back in my college days, me and my classmates tend to make fun of the Facebook people by explicitly saying that your Facebook friends aren’t real friends due to the simple fact that they are not. Extrapolating from this thought, just because you have a million followers; it doesn’t automatically mean that there are a million people out there that are going to actually care about what you have to say for yourself. I mean sure, Felix Kjellberg, more popularly known by his preferred moniker, PewDiePie, might have close to 20 million followers but consider exactly just how many of those 20 million people would want to hear him talk about video games when really, he’s never had anything insightful to say about an industry he’s practically been working in for the better part of the decade?
As a matter of fact, there are dozens of much lesser-known people from the industry that I’d rather sit, have dinner and talk about video games with compared to Kjellberg. They might not have the following the size of Kjellberg but follower count has never been a useful tool to measure authority. If you have even the smallest bit of interest in becoming a revered figure in your industry, you should focus on creating contents that reflects your knowledge and experience instead of constantly chasing for the lowest common denominator. I’m not necessarily saying that going for the lowest common denominator is a bad idea but reflecting on that tidbit about Monomania from the beginning, you shouldn’t be explicitly focusing on just one metric.
The fallacy of trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator
Let’s say that your company works in finance but perhaps because you realize that crunching numbers doesn’t really carry much universal appeal, you decide to broaden your horizon a little bit with your social media strategy. Instead of focusing on your business, you simply decide to post contents that cover pretty much everything under the sun, the textbook definition of going for the lowest common denominator. To your absolute delight, your strategy works and as a result, you’ve gained a relatively big social media following. The question is, how much is that going to help your bottom line?
At the end of the day, you still make a living crunching numbers but since you’ve decided to go broad with your social media marketing strategy, your followers probably aren’t all that interested in finance in the first place. Ultimately, your marketing efforts are measured by how much business it’s bringing; your return on investment is defined by how successful you are in converting your follower count into money which means that it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re attracting followers that are interested in what your business is offering. As it is, it’s pointless in trying to appeal to everyone given that it’s not everyone you’re looking for but people who might be having a hard time trying to balance their books.
Focusing on the audience that matters
I carry much disdain on having to be reduced to cliches but cliches are what they are because they tend to be true. And in the case of social media, the cliche that holds true is the case of quality over quantity. For small businesses with limited time and resource, going broad just isn’t going to work and you should instead be focusing on reaching out to a better-defined narrow range of audience. If we’re talking in the language of probability, you’re better of with a gun that has only 10 bullets but with an accuracy of 80% compared to a gun that has 20 bullets but with an accuracy of merely 20%.