Most people who are new to social media marketing ask the following question:
“How do I get more followers?”
While increasing your top-line follower count may boost your ego, it’s not necessarily going to translate into any real, business value. It’s what we call a “vanity metric.” Impressions and views. Also, vanity metrics.
What matters more than the number of friends or followers you have is the level of audience engagement.
Audience engagement may be measured in a variety of ways ranging from post likes, comments, and shares to clicks, mentions, and lead inquiries.
The sad and ugly truth is that followers can be easily purchased and automated with the help of bots and apps. Many dishonest social media marketing companies, gurus, and influencers inflate their follower counts with these methods because having a large number of followers makes for good optics. Next time you see someone with a large number of followers, check to see how many interactions their posts get. For example, if they have thousands of followers on Instagram and only a couple dozen likes, you know their followers are mostly fake.
Having a large number of followers does you no good if those followers are not engaged. Therefore, it’s better to have 5 engaged followers than 500 followers who never interact with your content. Engagement is where the magic happens. It’s what leads to the next stage, which might be lead generation, sales, or other business objectives. A relationship is fueled by engagement. Without it, your social media presence may look impressive superficially, but it’s no more than smoke and mirrors — a facade that will fool those who don’t know any better but will be laughed at by those who do.
How do you earn engagement?
Well, you can start by being engaging. Think about your audience’s wants and needs with every piece of content you put out. How are you bringing them value? Leave thoughtful comments (not just, “Wow, great!” and “Good stuff”). Respond to comments. Pose thought-provoking questions or post interactive content. Pay attention to culture and world events and incorporate it into what you share. Initiate and participate in the conversation.
Try engaging with your followers and seek to actually provide real value to them. Only when your motivation is to bring value to them and not to boost your own ego and impress anyone will your social media activity start to produce results and make a meaningful impact on others.