Stop Worrying About How Many Followers You Have

This has got to be the million dollar question of social media — How do you get more followers, and fast? It’s a question I’ve heard from every single one of my clients and will undoubtedly hear again and again through my career. My question in return is

Why does this metric in particular matter to your business?

Seriously, think about this for a second. There are dozens of metrics available to you that are directly influenced by social media. You could track:

  • email signups via Facebook
  • website clicks from Instagram
  • engagement rate
  • Impressions
  • actions taken on your website from social media referrals
  • conversions from social media referrals
  • Mentions
  • hashtags usage

…you get the idea. So, why is it that businesses have become so hung up on this one single metric, having deemed it the end all success metric of their social media presence? Business owners might assume that the more followers they have, the more website traffic they’ll earn, the more email sign ups they’ll receive, and the more customers they’ll have racing into their store. If only everything in life were that cut and dry, right? The hard truth is that followers do not equal money in your pocket.

That’s not to say that social media is a total crapshoot. It can be an excellent tool to engage with your audience and build a loyal fanbase that, essentially, acts as brand advocates for your business. The most important thing is that you understand The Most Important Thing: if you want to use social media to put money in your pocket, it’s all about the quality of the relationships you build, not the quantity.

Consider this: you’ve setup an Instagram account for your new restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen and have earned 50 followers through the month. Of those 50 followers, you find that about 20% of them are engaging with your content by liking or commenting on your posts. Bravo. Now you’re super pumped and ready to increase that follower count tenfold.

Through the next month, you increase your posting frequency from once per day to three times per day, ensuring that your brand’s content is front and center. All of your content features images of your menu items, with short, catchy captions that are totally hilarious. You also heard that following and unfollowing other accounts can increase your following pretty quickly, so you’re all over that.

You chug along for the next few months in a similar fashion, and by the end of six months, you’ve got 1,000 Instagram followers to show for it. Cool. Are your sales up? Have you increased traffic to key landing pages on your website? Are people talking about your brand on social media? Who knows! As long as you’ve got that follower count to keep you warm at night, baby.

Listen, I totally get it. Gaining followers is exciting, and it feels like a step in the right direction. But what are a million friends worth if you can’t get one to call you back on Friday night? The bottom line is, folks, it’s not how many followers you have that ultimately moves the needle, it’s how many people you truly connect with that counts.

Let’s Rephrase the Question

Rather than coming to an agency asking how to earn more followers fast, you should, instead, be asking how you can increase the authenticity of your relationships with your followers, so that they are obliged to share your content with friends and actively support your business, again and again and again. And guess what? The answer is pretty simple, and it’s as true to the real world as it is to social media — listen to the people around you. Engage with them authentically and supportively. Be present. By creating content that deeply resonates with your audience over and over again, you’re creating a loyal fanbase that will continue to revisit your social content, engage with your brand, and refer your products/services.

When you stop focusing on your follower count, and instead, shift your focus toward creating content that speaks to your audience, you create a loyalty loop that keeps your fans coming back for more.

Consider this: with this new strategy in mind, you decide to scale back from 3 posts per day to one. After all, churning out 3 pieces of content everyday was becoming pretty time-consuming. Now, instead of your usual menu item + funny caption schtick, you get a little creative. You decide to hand over the naming of your brand new burger to your Instagram audience with a short video clip introducing the burger in all its glory. Everyone who comments with a potential name gets a free side of french fries. Submissions are only open to your Instagram audience, and you make a point to mention the exclusivity of the opportunity in your video.

No, you will likely not gain any new followers from this particular post. Let’s break down what this post accomplishes instead:

  1. Added Value — By allowing only your Instagram followers the opportunity to name a new menu item, you’re rewarding them for their loyalty to your brand and offering value beyond the product that you sell.
  2. Engagement — This one post will likely receive the same, if not more comments, likes and engagement than the 3 daily posts you were previously grinding out.
  3. Money in Your Pocket — You can bet that those commenters who come in to redeem their free side of french fries will be shelling out to try the new burger. Keep in mind, this part only works if your followers are actually interested in your business. If you’ve grown your Instagram account to 10k followers through inauthentic means and they all live in Zimbabwe, I can guarantee this platform won’t be a huge help in the way of growing your business, but congrats on all those followers!

If there is one message I want you to take away from this, it’s this — be authentic on social media. Don’t worry about how many followers you have. Instead, worry about keeping them happy by engaging with them. They’ll return the favor tenfold.

Taylor Rohwedder

WIMZE Digital Helping brands connect, communicate, and inspire.
WIMZE Digital provides full-suite digital marketing services to help businesses grow their audiences and interact authentically in the digital space.