Social media success is more than just a number

Happy Pi Day (to the 36th digit)! by Mykl Roventine

Last week Jeremiah Owyang blogged about why the number of fans and followers you have is NOT a business metric – but what you do with them is. The post reminded me of a couple of conversations I’ve recently had with marketing directors of well-known online brands. Whilst they were keen to use social media as part of their marketing mixes, both seemed more focused on the number of fans and likes they could accrue rather than the action they would take with their followings.

Bigger is not always better

A large following, whether that be Facebook likes, Twitter followers or the number of people and companies in your Google+ Circles, is a perfectly legitimate social media marketing metric. Amongst other things, a large following will give you an opportunity to market to those followers as well as help you establish social capital. But I don’t believe this should be your most important social media marketing metric.

It may sound like a cliché, but quality really is more important than quantity when it comes to effective social media marketing. You may grow your following and boast over a million likes on Facebook but so what? Unless you do something with those followers then it just becomes a collection of numbers.

Social media requires a different type of thinking. It involves bringing the audience into the marketing process by including them in conversations and engaging with them. Social media marketing will not be effective if you build up a following only to broadcast messages and advertisements to them. It’s important to proactively target your key social media audiences and give them a compelling reason to connect with you.

It’s not just the size – it’s what you do with it that counts!

A million Facebook likes would be great but what if only a small percentage genuinely liked you and the majority were disengaged and unresponsive to the discourse you’re trying to generate?

Surely it would be better to aim for 20,000 Facebook fans who are interested and enthusiastic about you and forms part of a community that regularly interacts with your content and spreads it organically across their social graphs. Only this way will you begin to see increased traffic and conversions.

As with any aspect of marketing, social media should be intrinsically linked to the overall objectives a business is looking to achieve. This could be creating brand awareness, improving customer service or generating leads and sales. These are the metrics that matter the most.

What are your thoughts on social media marketing metrics? What do you use to measure success? What does good social media look like?


  • http://www.smartdogdigital.com/ Illiya Vjestica

    Too many businesses ‘do’ measure success on quantity and numbers rather than how well they engage with their own audience.

    One of the first questions you normally get asked when developing a social media strategy is ‘How can we get more fans? And lots of them!

    The question should be ‘How can we get the fans we already have to converse with us more? And attract the right fans more often. 

    Quality is better than quantity every time. I cannot understand businesses and consultants that use auto-follow or ‘quick fix’ fan generation tools.

    Manually seeking out good authoritative accounts and influencers to follow is going to worth your time. You should spend the effort trying to attract the right people and not forget about the numbers you already have, no matter how small. 

    We already know that if you have 500 followers but each one listens vs. your competitor who has 10,000 followers but only 20 people actually listen, the account with smaller numbers has much more value and will drive a much higher response. 

    Great post Gavin! 

    • http://twitter.com/gavinllewellyn Gavin Llewellyn

      Hi Illiyav

      Many thanks for both your kind words and for posting such an eloquent response. I say that only because – as you point out – so many people just don’t get it. I’m pleased to know that you share my frustration!

      The thing is, if you want extra fans and followers you can find agencies that will actually *buy* them for you. But there really is no point if those ‘fans’ don’t do anything. It’s really quite pointless in the end.

      I think your point about ‘manually seeking out good authoritative accounts and influencers’ is key. Why? Because it’s about doing hard, focused work and unfortunately some people don’t want to do that. They want the short-cut but you can’t get something for free!

      Thanks again for commenting. My hope is that if enough people (like us!) use social media correctly a set of standards will develop and businesses will benefit as a result. That way a virtuous circle will develop and the ones who focus solely on the numbers will fall behind. Surely that will focus their minds on doing things right.