How to increase your fans on Facebook? How to get more Twitter followers? How to get more subscribers for your blog? There have been countless articles written about increasing the number of fans, followers, readers, subscribers et. al. More and more people are in the pursuit of reaching that coveted fan number, with some ready to spend big bucks, hoping to gain more fans online. With all the focus on numbers, we wonder if success in the social media space really depends on the quantity of fans, or is it just a race that businesses seem to be running these days, not wanting to be left behind when the whole world is at it.
Why number of fans is irrelevant?
When asked in an interview about “How businesses can leverage social media?” Seth Godin, the well-known author, entrepreneur and social media expert said, “Having a number of Facebook fans or followers is worthless, when most of these people you are connected to are not really your friends or followers. The internet is becoming a giant cocktail party with all the people aimlessly trying to connect and mingle with as many people as they can. It has allowed enormous amount of fake networking and people are constantly looking at their scoreboard and saying, “Wow! See how popular I am”, or “Look, who is talking about me”. Networking is valuable when it’s real and is a useless distraction when it’s fake.”
“Measuring success based on your score is an utter nonsense. When it comes to success in the social media space, the real relationships are what matter. Your real fans and followers are those who would reach out to you and help you when you need it the most, and the people with whom you have exchanged worthwhile ideas. You must ask yourself – “Are there people out there who I would go out of my way for, and who would go out of their way for me. That’s what you should be measuring and the way to get there is going out of your way for them, and establishing connections that translate to something valuable”, says Godin.
In his blog, “How do you increase social influence? Don’t think about the score”, Brian solis, author of the book Engage, and one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media talks about why we must look beyond the social media score and fan count, and aim for building a strong community of true followers and not just a huge crowd of fickle fans. “Influence is not measured by a score, but instead by the culmination of resulting actions. Focusing efforts on solely driving actions is counter-productive. As such, focusing efforts to boost scores is as shallow as it is restricted. If you invest in the value of the community and seek to improve the experiences of those to whom you’re connected, your influence and presence is in turn symbolic of something that escapes a number. Your investment then pays off in the form of self actualization, reaching higher potential without any attachment to success or reward.”
Jeffrey Zeldman, web designer, author and founder of the web design studio Happy Cog says in his blog “If numbers are your strategy to win at this thing, you’ve already lost. This thing is not a game. There is no winning, only mattering. If you don’t understand that, you aren’t making a difference. The amount of influence you can have on your fans, the power to affect their behavior, and ultimately drive their purchase intentions, is what contributes to true success, and not a shallow, quick fix number. Following doesn’t mean paying attention. All you want is be followed by human beings who care about the issues you care about and not just grab eyeballs that aren’t even watching.”
Seth, Brian and Jeffrey have a valid point to make. We all know of several Facebook fan pages with large number of fans,that are not doing quite well in terms of interacting with the audience and keeping them interested. On the other hand, we also know of pages with few fans, but with loads of interaction on the page, that reveals the interest the fans are showing.
Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic, in conjunction with the World Advertisers Federation, studied the fan bases of 24 brands and found that it’s important for brands to figure out what to do with the fans rather than simply accumulating them. The number of fans is important for a fan page, but it is not an indicator of how well the page is performing. While there is a correlation between people’s appreciation of a fan page and the number of fans, some relatively small pages were found to have achieved above average ratings, and some pages with the largest number of fans had very low overall ratings, in the study. Simply having a fan page with loads of fans is not enough, if you are not working hard to provide great content and interact with the audience.
Every fan is not worth the same. A fan’s worth depends on his or her influence, connections and activity on your page. Having few influential fans that constantly share your posts, retweet your tweets and talk about your brand, will benefit your business more than having million inactive, non-influential fans.
The relationship you share with your fans would decide how long your fans are going to stick around. If your relationship with your fans is not strong enough, then they are going to get tired of your posts and unlike your page anyways. Then, why should one even desire to have such fans that are not making any significant contribution, and just randomly existing on your page.
If not numbers, what should you focus on?
“Social media is our chance to do something that’s bigger than us and that’s what motivates me. It’s about the investment you make in the creation or curation of relevant and useful content. It’s about building the power and unsaid significance behind a retweet on Twitter, a ‘like’ on Facebook, the following of someone to extend a social graph. It’s also expressed through the explicit act of commenting on posts and updates, engaging in online conversation, sharing the contributions of others as well as linking. These acts serve as the currency of social media”, says Brian Solis in his blog.
If not numbers then what should you focus on? Here are few things you should be concentrating on, instead of the number of fans on your page:
1. Focus on getting fans that are naturally interested in your products. These are the ones that intently listen to you, share your posts, and spread your ideas across the world. If your products are mainly consumed by youngsters, then approach your Facebook marketing in a way that is aligned with the interests of your target audience. Use humor, fun contests and posts that would help them connect with the brand better.
2.Work hard on building a strong community. Your task doesn’t end after acquiring fans, it begins after that. You have got to work hard on establishing strong relationship with your fans and converting them into permanent members of your community.
3.People are always thinking “What’s in it for me?” Unless you provide something valuable, your fans are not going to stick to your brand for long. Share tips, tricks, and interesting ideas, that makes your fans realize the real value of brand and its effort towards helping people. Interact with them, appreciate their suggestions and respond to their queries.
4. Listen to what your fans are saying. Not just the spoken words, but the unspoken intentions behind their actions. Why do some posts receive more ‘Likes’ and comments than others? What could be the reason behind the dwindling comments on your page? Are there any changes that you made, that your fans are not happy about? Are your fans finding your posts monotonous and looking for some change? By answering these questions you can gauge the expectations of your target fans.
5. Have a clear purpose. What do you want to achieve with your fan page? Is it creating a buzz around your brand and inspiring your fans to spread your ideas? Is it converting fans into customers who buy your products? Your marketing strategy depends on your ultimate goal. Having a clear goal allows you to make plans and set realistic targets to achieve it.
Social media provides us with the opportunity to build real relationships, and we must use it for that, and not for acquiring more and more superficial fans. A huge number of Facebook fans might you give you a momentary sense of achievement, but to expand your business by leveraging social media, you need much more than a huge number of fans.