Does size matter? Quantity vs Quality in Social Media.

crowd

As a business is seen as more credible if it has ‘a lot’ of followers, and people like to follow the masses, I am not surprised that I am often asked, “how do I get more followers on social media?”. Specifically, people want to look popular on twitter.

There are numerous ways to grow your following on twitter and my first response to the question above could be tweetspinner, twiends or tweetadder, as some examples. However, I think businesses should start with a different question!

Strategytwitter bird

What is the aim of your campaign? If your goal as a business is to increase sales, you must understand who your target customer is and how they interact online. Then you can plan where to find them and how to contact and interact with them. If you employ an agency or use an application to just increase numbers you run the risk of sending your carefully crafted message out to people who have no intention of buying from you. Its the ‘quality’ of the followers that can be more important than the quantity. The question should therefore not be “how do I get more followers” but “how do I reach my current and/or prospective customers in a space they will want to engage in?”.

Finding quality followers

It is these quality followers who will be interested in and act on your tweets by re-tweeting, clicking on links and replying that you want to encourage. Once this has been determined you can decide on a route to find them. It may be through one of the following examples.

  • Applications such as twellow (which is like a twitter yellow pages) and those mentioned above can search on key parameters (location/ interest/ gender).
  • Follow people who are already following industry experts. They are demonstrating their interest in the industry and desire to find out more.
  • Lists. Have a look at others lists of relevant followers and look who lists others in your industry.
  • Common interest #tags. These are people tweeting about a certain subject and wanting to make it seen to others interested in that subject by including #subject in their tweet. Follow people using the tags relevant to your business and use them yourself to show up in their searches.

Once you have connected with this core and start engaging and sending out relevant content in a way that will be commented on and re-tweeted, numbers should grow organically but are unlikely to grow quickly.

Chasing the numbers

There is also something to be said for larger numbers of fans or followers giving credibility to a business profile on social media. It is human nature to want to be part of the crowd and we assume a large following is a sign they have something good to say. If you do go for a strategy that wants to reach a mass audience sheepquickly then, as mentioned above, there are applications that will help you build numbers. For these people to still see a relevance in your business messages and to have any chance of engaging without your twitter feed just being a sea of random tweets, it is important to stay organised with lists. By compiling lists of followers that may be interested in certain aspects of your offering, ou to view feeds in a more orderly fashion and respond accordingly. They can be made public if you want to share the information or private if you have prospective customer lists or don’t want to share with competitors who may be interested. Twitter’s advice on lists is here. Formulists and Listorious are a couple of others you could try.

Numbers of followers are therefore only important after you have determined your social media strategy and goals. The relevant numbers will either represent the proportion of your target market, that can then be engaged with focused messages, or your ability to reach the masses for brand awareness.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gil Gorev April 20, 2011 at 10:29 am

Very helpful guide, thank you Sarah!

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sarahgorev April 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

I hope it comes in useful, Gil

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