If you clicked on this article, then chances are one of two things are happening:
You’re a social media manager. It’s the end of the month, and the rest of the team is breathing down your neck. They’re wondering why the brand hasn’t incurred a million followers and a bajillion likes. You wonder if this is the end of your career.
You’re a social media manager. It’s not the end of the month—but the rest of the team is still breathing down your neck. They wonder why the brand hasn’t incurred a million followers and a bajillion likes. You wonder if this is the end of your career.
In short, you’ve reached an impasse; you’re working for a scrappy brand looking to quickly expand their reach and make good on their bottom line by “going viral”—all while working within the confines of a brisk digital landscape. You wonder if it really, truly matters that a brand account has thousands upon thousands of followers at the end of the month.
You and I both know the answer to the last question—it doesn’t. But does the rest of your team know that?
Probably not. In fact, you’re probably sitting on a slew of unopened chats about paid ads, bots, fake followers, “parent/child” accounts, and other “solutions” promising to drive follows through the roof overnight… in addition to all the #inspo from:
- Brand A, who has roughly 30,000 real followers on Instagram but only sees 200 to 500 instances of engagement on their posts organically.
- Brand B, who uses the “parent/child” bot system to “reach out” about “influencer opportunities” to potential consumers to get them to look at their page.
- Brand C, who, like Brand A, has 30,000 followers—but no quality content, engagement… or… real followers, for that matter.
These instances, among many others, expose how little follower count truly matters—and further demonstrates to your team how that specific metric can become divorced from your brand’s reality (read: their bottom line). It is critical to move past the idea that gaining followers will drive engagement and maintain brand momentum.
Passing that hurdle, you can then put more time and energy behind strengthening your brand’s digital presence, such as building intensive content calendars and curating memorable moments that attract loyal consumers. On your end, it might look like the following:
- A call for significant investment into expanding your existing social team to handle the larger volumes of ideation, research, creation, and community interaction needed for long-term growth.
- A focus on building a brand presence consumers can “vibe” with, which includes researching the niche your brand falls into through online community management.
- Reframing social analytics as the story of what consumers are responding to and would like to see, as opposed to how well the brand is doing online.
- Working across teams (like sales and product teams) to reach out to your consumers in creative ways—such as in-store QR codes, word of mouth, partner giveaways with complementary brands, events—the list goes on.
Overall, divestment from a focus on followers is a hard sell for many teams, especially when it feels like a major driver in pushing certain brands to the masses… but there is a way to educate them toward a pivot, and it lies in a brand’s preservation. Put simply, you’ll need to convince your team to divest from the short-term (and sometimes haphazard) tactics your competitors are likely using to pad their numbers and instead embrace the long-term research and creation of relevant content to maintain a loyal consumer base over a brand’s lifetime.