Back To Basics: The Value of a Social Media Follower

Social media marketing is a rather funny industry to work in. We don’t mean “funny” as in haha/hehe; more like “funny” in the sense of “why is something so simple, so difficult for some folks to understand?” Maybe it’s a matter of habit, in any industry, for professionals to take what they know for granted, and assume that because they “get it,” that everyone else does, too. The good news is, we love what we do, and with that, we love talking about it. So, what could be seen as a frustration by others, we find quite fascinating!

With the dilemma of misunderstanding comes a fantastic opportunity: practicing the art of communication. These questions/misconceptions are teaching us how to simplify things so that they make sense to any particular business owner on any given day. It seems like a no-brainer, but communication isn’t universal. It’s custom. Every individual, every brand, every  voice, has its own way of being connected to. Teaching and coaching has shown us that, time after time.

Okay, back to the point of this post!! That whole introduction came because recently we’ve been faced with something that hasn’t surfaced in quite some time. And that is: a brand’s desire to grow in quantity of followers as opposed to quality. There are times that we are curious if it would just be easier to accommodate their desires with Fiverr, or one of the hundred other sites you can buy fake followers from. But, we can’t. We know too well that it’s a trap, and it completely shatters any real social media marketing strategy a brand might have in the works.

Basically, if all a brand cares about is an empty follower count, we refer them elsewhere.

Here’s why, in three simple takeaways:

Quantity Is Void

Engagement > Followers. Why? A brand can have an empty number of followers (let’s say 100,00) at the top of your Twitter profile. Good for you! But, what does it matter if your message isn’t reaching anyone? Those 100,000 followers you bought, they are robots and they cannot favorite, retweet, or reply to anything you post. So, ultimately, you’re posting to yourself. In more blunt terms, you’re sitting in a corner, trying to sell your brand to a wall. (insert dunce hat)

You Aren’t Fooling Anyone

What’s more mortifying than Exhibit A (above), is that everyone will see, and know, that you bought fake followers! Consumers are intelligent and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get them to follow, engage, and/or click. Fake followings can be spotted from a tweet away! If a consumer goes to a Twitter profile to check out a brand, at first they might say, “wow, 100,000 followers!” But if those first three tweets show up in your profile (via mobile app) with no engagement, they’ll know it’s fake, and thus will not be joining your fan club (aka band of fake Twitter followers).

Measuring Results Will Be Impossible

How can you measure your success without real numbers? You can’t.

Your social media analytics, in addition to follower count, will be void. When you try to hire a marketing firm to figure out “what do all these insights mean?,” they won’t be able to give you a real answer. Sure, you can speculate, do some rough math, and maybe come up with some sort of rendition of truth, but there really wouldn’t be any way to tell how your brand is actually doing on social media.

Ultimately, the key takeaway from this post is simple:

Social media marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. You can conduct campaigns within that commitment, but setting a follower goal to reach within a time-frame, that is not an applicable strategy for social media. Your commitment will breed engagement, and therefore lead you to brand ambassadors, who are basically sales people that you don’t have to pay.

Now, which is more valuable to your brand: A void number at the top of your social media profile OR a sales person you don’t have to pay?

Note: Growing a real following takes time, so be patient. Those brands you have follower-lust for, they’ve been in the game for years and years, and their numbers reflect that. Strategize, execute, and nurture consumer relationships. That’s what social media marketing is all about!

Brands, Consumers Shift From Search To Social

Even we, as self-proclaimed social enthusiasts and diehard supporters of the industry, weren’t expecting to see this kind of science. Not yet anyways. However, in the wise words of one of our favorite philosophers:

“Numbers don’t lie, check the scoreboard.”

Shareaholic reported that in Q4 of 2014, 31.24% of all website traffic was driven from social media.

Although the idea of the demise of Facebook is alive and well, so is the company’s resilience. Along with StumbleUpon, Facebook was the only platform(s) to grow its traffic share in Q4 of 2014. On top of that, Facebook’s 24.63% share of traffic minimizesPinterest’s 5.06% impact. Twitter, surprisingly, only holds .82% share.

You can dive more in to Shareaholic’s data-driven report here.

So, we just have one question for all the C-level marketing execs out there, not taking social seriously: When is enough, enough? Google’s founders are on record saying that one of their biggest regrets was not anticipating the rise of social. Now, there are traffic numbers that are not only growing year over year, they’re capturing the space. This is not to mention the fact that a single platform, which happens to be social, owns 25% of all website traffic.

With this post, note that we are in no way suggesting that search is dead. The only hope is that the social media industry will, at some point, be valued and respected the way search is, because it deserves to be. It is the ultimate in communicative marketing.

We’re going to leave you with this quote from Monica Dimperio:

“Gone are the days of Sterling Cooper & Partners. The new Don Drapers are digital natives who can pull off a multichannel influencer activation with an offline component in their sleep.
These folks have adopted [digital platforms] from the get-go, so they know the content, curation and influencers to work with. Soon, that will include paid media. These people will get you results because, frankly, they know things you don’t.”

4 Questions To Jumpstart Your Social Media Strategy

For brands, social media can be as daunting as it can be exciting. If you have questions or fears about getting started on social media, you are not alone! However, what a great incentive to get rolling! If others are missing the opportunity to grow a community in your industry, that’s all the more reason for you to maximize that empty space with your brand!

So, let’s dive in.

Here are four questions you need to answer to formulate a social media marketing strategy for your brand.

Part One: Audience

  • Who are you trying to reach? 

The most crucial part of your strategy is defining your target audience. Who are they? You’ll need to figure out things like age, gender, location, and interests. These answers will help you target your content to the right, potential customers.

  • Spurring from the first question, what are “they” into?

By “they,” we mean your audience. What are their hobbies? Where do they hang out? These answers will help you get creative with content campaigns and the ways you’ll deliver your awesome content!

Part Two: Platform Selection

  • What platform(s) should you utilize?

Long gone are the days of believing the myth: “we have to be on every social media site!” Now, with the information from Part One, you can decide which platform(s) is most suitable for your strategy. Each platform has its own strengths when it comes to different demographics and industries.

Part Three: Let’s Build It

  • Now, what?

There are a lot of sub-questions here, that you’ll need to answer to really launch your social media marketing strategy. Here they are:

  1. How often will you post?
  2. What will you post?
  3. Do you have a paid ads budget? (if so, what is it?)
  4. How will your campaigns run, in coordination with your day-to-day posts?
  5. When will you organize and schedule posts?
  6. How often will you monitor your platforms for consumer inquiries?

Now, from here, you’ll take ALL of the above information, and structure it to kick off your social media marketing efforts. And like anything in business, you are not going to have all the answers right up front. Since social media is a daily happening, your campaigns might need to be altered, and your scheduling might need to change once you rake in enough data to see when you audience is the most engaged.

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In a marketplace full of robots and algorithms, H2H Social offers a human approach to social media marketing.

Social media marketing is the new age word of mouth marketing. Brands must make themselves human, before they can be heard. H2H Social helps brands make the transition from corporate untouchable to local relatable.

H2H Social = Human to Human, Heart to Heart