When I was new in the social media game, I assumed the more followers, likes and fans I had the better. And for a great many social media managers and companies, that is still the overall thought. It always looks good to have a wide cadre of followers and fans, seeing your “content” and your posts and adverts. However, it has not quite turned out that way. Having a large following does not often translate into what managers and companies envision. This is a particular issue for smaller or mid-sized businesses. I began to realize this early on as I began to analyze data, trends and interactions online. I began to understand the nature of using social media to create a better advantage. Today we will look at three common mistakes and assumptions SMEs (and honestly, Fortune 500 companies make) in trying to grow their following, friends, or fans on social media to advance their offerings. Below are three misconceptions and prescriptions
More Followers Is Always a Good
While getting a ton of followers can get the word out about your product, service, personality, talent or music can help. It does not guarantee that the people who follow you actually want what you offer. In fact, the greater consideration for managers when trying to recruit followers, is understanding the motivation for the follow or the friend request. While we all know that some people (God help their poor bitter souls) hate watch/read/engage content, we rarely consider that such “followers” often add nothing to your overall underlying goal. If your goal is to sell sneakers, no matter how tempting it is to say you have 102,001 friends/followers, if 90,000 don’t buy sneakers you have a zombie block. We can see this example many movements that seek allies in their quest for some social justice end. If nothing is changing, things aren’t getting better. A zombie block is formidable in number but inert in concrete action or change.
Social Media For Client Communications
Yes, in some cases. But in many others, it becomes an bullhorn for company gaffs and a sounding board for frustrated social media users to vent. The stronger your brand and the older the company will determines how well a business might weather a public debacle. But remember, you want and NEED followers/friends that appreciates your
product, service, brand. You can’t just start talking to customers/clients when things go wrong. It seems disingenuous and it looks like a cleanup job or a save-face campaign. You need to evaluate why people are following, particularly if they are NOT buying. Even if they engage with the content, what really matters is actual conversions. Also evaluate the kinds of communications you are having–are they client conversations or random follower conversations from people who do not buy, want, or need your product/service. A great example of this in recent times has been the sudden interest in India, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and select African states by many Western entities. The new conversations appear disingenuous, because of how widely these states were marginalized or ignored in the past on issues more relevant to their unique regions/people. Don’t be clunky when it comes to communicating with those you call customers, clients or allies–it has to be holistic, not sudden.
Community Over Quantity
I would advise the greatest way to increase the viability of your product offering is building community with your media. Evaluate your own media offerings and determine if it is achieving your goals. If you are hoping to make sales, be sure that the kind of people who follow you are those that buy. If you are trying to get members, be sure you recruit those kinds of people. And remember, if you choose to pivot, you may need to create a whole new presence and following to achieve your new goals. Your followers and you are in a marriage in which they followed/joined/or friended you under a certain expectations regarding your content/product/service offering. Depending on how stark the pivot, such a move might not resonate with your “base.” This means you need to keep your eyes open about the kind of followers you have. Read their posts and figure out why they are following you. If you can build a community it makes the process a lot easier when you pivot (although that is not guaranteed). Still, building a community means having a shared goal or identity, a pivot may mean that identity changes and it may alienate your followers/customers. A great examples, is when a host of African-targeted social media and media producers began churning out tons of anti-Chinese content. The move greatly hurt the credibility of those brands, because it no longer focused on the common goal of the community; the most imminent and historical threats to their community of followers, and the overall narrative that had been curated for many years! Fans and followers were at first engaged, then perplexed by the obvious pivot creating a quiet doubt. Remember, evaluate your followers, don’t just count them.