Why engagement > followers… The realities of growth on social in 2018

By July 27, 2018Social Media

There’s the age old saying of ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ but these days there’s a much more millennial equivalent… Would you rather have one million pounds or one millions followers? Anyone with a true understanding of social knows that 1 million followers could bring you so much more than £1,000,000 ever could. As an influencer, you could be the next Zoella; as a brand, the next GoPro or Netflix. But, given the ongoing battle between platforms and fake fans, there’s a question we need to ask first… Are the 1,000,000 followers real?

And I don’t even just mean real people. There are plenty of ways accounts numbers shoot up. Mass following of irrelevant consumers who aren’t anything like a brand’s audience demographic (this one particularly gets us when it’s a UK only brand who’s follower base is the entire country of Mexico) in the hope they follow back, only to unfollow and then repeat the cycle is not going to get the right peoples attention. You’ll probably just end up being seen as ‘that brand’. Over time that can build up to a big number but will any of those people be buying your product or listening to what you have to say? Absolutely not.

For those brands that seem to go from a few thousand to a few 100,000 overnight? Well there’s a strong likelihood that didn’t happen organically. There’s nothing more obvious than the brand with huge follower numbers who get 40 likes and one comment on an Instagram post. Maybe there’s an odd few where their numbers start to match up, but the likelihood is, they bought those interactions too. Scroll through the comments and you’ll start to recognise the tell tale signs… Random reaction gifs, copy paste generic comments and fake profiles a plenty.

With consistently increasing competition, there’s so much pressure on both brands and influencers to have the big numbers or to grow them over night. But looking back at the big accounts (the true ones with a genuinely engaged fan base), they didn’t go from zero to social media hero overnight. They spent time creating quality content and building a dedicated fan base. They interacted and built communities. They stood for things they believed, shared that with their audience and made them feel included. They didn’t chase empty follower numbers or try and fake their way to the top.

Growing on social is harder than ever before, which is why it’s important to engage your existing fans base with a real strategy as a means to grow it. Don’t think just because you’ve hit that 1k, 10k or even 100k follower milestone that those people will automatically stick around. Your content needs to be the reason these people follow and engage. Without engagement, we can’t measure or test… We can’t tell what works and what doesn’t for our audience, because they wouldn’t truly be our audience. We would take a smaller, engaged audience over 1,000,000 empty followers any day!

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