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What you’ve read is wrong; follow counts do matter

vanity in social media

Remember the iconic line from It’s a Wonderful Life “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings?” Akin to this heartwarming holiday movie moment. Every time someone says “keeping track of your number of followers is just vanity and it doesn’t matter.” An angel shakes his head in complete disagreement. Okay maybe it’s not an angel, but we sure disagree with that statement, vehemently.

Here’s a little secret that’s not that much of a secret, everything, from business to personal life is a popularity contest. Like it or not. That’s just the way it is. In other words:

You need to care about follower counts and we think it’s not even up for debate*.

*We are talking about quality followers. Not paid for followers or fake followers.

Brands have always battled for popularity

We’re the best. We’re number one. Four out of five dentists agree. No matter how it has been said, brands have always vied to be the gold standard in their industry. And the companies who even just seem the best usually win the day.  You might be thinking “But hold on, how about those companies that show how much they care?” “They are showing the world they are human, and their existence goes well beyond profits.” The harsh reality is companies need to worry about profits. So, even though they may be doing a great thing for a charity, they also want you to connect with them on a human level so you buy their product and… follow their brand on social media… which leads to you buying more products. To be the best, even if some say it’s pure vanity, does require numbers.

Followers attract followers

It’s moment of honesty time. Company A competes with Company B within the same industry. Company A has 10,000 followers while Company B has 50. Who are you more apt to follow? Who most likely has more interesting content?  Observational learning is quite powerful. You see that long line for the new iPhone, and it makes you want it even more. You hear about a hot stock everyone is investing in, and you want to invest in that same stock. You see scores of people following Company A and it makes you curious “Why is this company so popular?” “I just have to follow them to see what the buzz is about.” It’s human nature.

Larger audience, larger impact

Before delving further into this discussion, one point has to be made crystal clear. Having an extremely engaged small audience is better than having an extremely stagnant large audience. But wouldn’t you much rather have a large engaged audience? Of course you would. It’s like saying you can have pancakes or French toast if you choose option A or can you have both breakfast delights if you choose option B. Break out the extra syrup because we’re going with option B.

Great content will attract larger audiences

People think the Avengers movie franchise is amazing, that’s why it just recently pulled in $1.2 billion during its opening weekend. Now that’s an impact. When you create amazing content, eventually, it will attract larger audiences. You may not draw in crowds in the millions like the Avengers: Endgame but if your content is strong, you will gain followers. Conversely…

Bad content repels followers

It’s not foolproof, but if you aren’t gaining followers there’s a chance your content isn’t great, or you aren’t engaging enough on your end. Using your follower counts to gauge if your current campaign is making an impact can reveal either the good that is gaining more people or the warts that are repelling them. Chances are if you aren’t growing at all, you are doing something wrong.

Every account starts at zero and gaining followers can be hard work. Don’t let that stop you from trying to bring in scores of people to see just how awesome you are. Create compelling content, engage with others and your follower count will grow. When you hit milestones and feel great about what you’ve achieved, don’t feel shallow,  because wanting larger audiences is anything but vane. It’s necessary.