Social Media: How not to Obsess on Followers Count

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When you’re managing social media, figures are everywhere: number of likes, views, followers… The latter one is usually the most visible, which can be associated with credibility and influence. The issue is that we tend to always want more, and to compare our account with the most popular ones that have millions of followers.

So how to stop obsessing on this specific figure? On what can you focus instead?

Look at engagement rate

Relative figures are a good way to have a better overview of your engagement. In particular, you can look at engagement rate, calculated by the number of interactions on a post divided by the number of followers.

Engagement rates gives you a better representation of content performance, compared to absolute numbers. For example, if you have 100 followers and see that 50% of your followers are liking your content, it’s a good sign that your audience appreciates what you do.

white Android smartphone near green plant

Relative numbers also allows comparisons with other accounts. You could even realise that you have a higher engagement rate than some larger accounts.

A good test is checking out the engagement of your biggest competitors. That’s what I did for my music blog. When having a look at Facebook pages or Instagram accounts of other music blogs, I was surprised to see that their engagement rate was quite low. This can be for multiple reasons, but a major one is that, as the audience grows, it’s harder to be seen by people who really engage with your content. It also depends how the audience grew: for example, when a user follows a page to enter a contest, he may not interact with its content.

Focus on your existing audience

If you’re creating something, you probably already have an audience following what you do: your friends, family, colleagues, the persons which came across your work…

Even if they’re not many, look at how they engage with your content: which topics are the most popular? Do they comment, share feedback or reshare your content? These points can give you good insights.

You can drive their engagement in several ways: by asking questions, engaging the conversation via direct messages or comments, running a survey, launching a contest…

Doing so will contribute to making your audience grow naturally: if people are engaged, they will share your content, talk about it… And as you probably know, word of mouth is the most efficient form of marketing.

This approach goes back to the theory of 1,000 true fans, in which Kevin Kelly suggests:

To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.

The author outlines that aiming a thousand fans is much more doable than a million.

Be aware of silent followers

This one is something that surprised me a few times. Some of your followers are silent, they just observe what you post. Meaning they are following you, see your content and appreciate it, but don’t interact with it via social media. There can be a few reasons for that: they are used to visit social media without interacting, or they discover your content directly through your website or other channels.

It was already theorised in 2006 with the “90-9-1 Rule“: 1% of users are creators, 9% are commenters, 90% are observers. These ratio can vary, but the idea is that most of users are observers!

This is something I realised a few times with my music blog, especially around my Weekly Spotify Playlist. I’be discovered that several people I know are listening to it, even though I had no idea they were following my project. I learnt it when they mentioned it in a conversation.

To sum up: in addition to the engagement you see online, be aware that some people are enjoying your content. You may never know it, or end up discovering it by coincidence!

The key: stay consistent

Most content creators agree on one major key of success: consistency. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s only by creating regularly that you can grow your audience. Being consistent without caring too much about followers count brings a new mindset. Instead of creating in the goal of getting more followers, and being discouraged if it doesn’t work, you work in the long term and progressively build your audience.

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