Followers and Likes are not a reliable measure of success or revenue. Here's why...

One thing that seems to always be top of mind for many of us in the online world is followers. How many followers do we have, how many followers to they have, how can we get more followers?

This seems to be the way that we judge accounts – oh they only have 500 followers, or wow they have 20k followers. But at the end of the day, what do these numbers mean?

Not a whole lot.

The number of followers or likes you have is really just vanity metrics. It doesn’t tell you how many people see your posts, engage with you posts, or care about what you have to say.

You need some followers, otherwise you are talking to nobody

No, I’m not saying that followers or likes are useless and don’t mean anything. In fact, you do need followers. Otherwise you are talking to nobody. You do want fans who have shown enough interest in what you have to say to want to follow along.

And, you will want followers to show some social proof – i.e. showing others that people are interested in you and give you a bit more legitimacy. Bu what I’m saying here is that the number of followers or likes you have isn’t the end all be all. Why…

You can buy followers

You can buy followers. It’s incredibly easy. I can tell you that you get multiple messages every single week from companies promising me “real” Instagram followers for 8 dollars.

First, these followers aren’t real

Second, even if some are real people, they aren’t real fans, and they won’t engage with what you have to say.

I have clients who have fallen into this trap in the past, they saw an easy way to get more followers, and we all know what’s easy, isn’t going to pay off.

The company got them 10k followers. Hooray, 10k followers, life has changed right? Not at all. The first thing that happened was, very quickly about 2k of those followers just disappeared. It doesn’t matter why but it’s a combination of fake accounts being taken down, people who have no interest, etc.

The second thing that happened was this – the engagement levels on all future posts was so pitiful and really suffered from that. If you have 10k followers, the numbers of likes and comments you have on your posts should increase as well. But if they aren’t really legit followers then it stays the same as if you had 1000 followers.

And then, when you have a lower level of engagement, the algorithm says – “oh wow I guess their followers aren’t interested in their content” and then it shown to less people and you are in fact worse off. I’ve seen it time and time again.

Want to see how many legit followers you (or anyone else) has? There are lots of tools out there in internet land that can do a rudimentary calculation for you.

You can have followers, or you can have customers

And I say this to be facetious, because it really isn’t black and white. But let’s pretend that it is for a moment.

When you are putting your entire focus into getting more followers, you aren’t nurturing the ones you already have and building relationships with them to increase their likelihood of doing business with you.

For example – I knew a social media “expert” who was sharing how she got to 10k followers and then was selling the service of getting you 10k followers. I checked out her Instagram and it hurt me. The posts were all what I am going to call click bait – junky posts that were only there to make people follow you and comment but offer no substance.

There was really nothing there demonstrating who she was or what value she could offer you (other than the fb posts saying she could also get you 10k followers).

This means that she wasn’t working on serving the followers she had, her entire focus was on getting new ones. And it means that she – and all those she serves, will not be able to convert followers into raving fans or customers, because the entire focus is on getting new followers, and not offering substance or value or relationship building. If anyone is offering to help you get more followers, but makes no mention of visibility, leads, relationships, or revenue – run away!!

Has this ever happened to you – probably as a kid. You go over to a friend’s house expecting to have fun and hang out with them, but they spend a huge chunk of their time calling other people to try to get them to come over? How does that feel? Well – I equate it to putting all your focus on getting new followers instead of serving the ones you have now.

Raving fans – you only need a few

How many customers does your business need, really? Does it need 10 thousand? Probably not. Most of the clients I work with, as well as most of you reading, offer services that are in the thousands of dollars, if not more. Does it need 5 thousand? Probably not. Does it need 1 thousand? Like Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans model. I think that for most of us, 1000 is still aiming high. Seth Godin in his newest book, this is marketing goes much lower than that, and focuses on 100 raving fans. If you have 100 raving fans buying everything you put out there, you are good to go.

Let’s aim somewhere in between the two. 500. You are aiming for 500 raving fans. That means that you aren’t out there looking for everyone and anyone to follow you on social media so that you can look legitimate and get influencer deals with aerie. But you are focusing on the followers you already have an are giving them everything you can to help them succeed, get to know the real you, and building lasting relationships with them.

So really focus on creating content and serving your current followers so you can create raving fans, and they will bring their friends along!


Want to learn more about using LinkedIn to grow your business? Grab your free copy of Grow Your Business with LinkedIn: A Guide for Entrepreneurs.

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denise alison