Our clients who seek help in influencer marketing are marketers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, or companies. Most of them have business pages on Facebook. Some have Twitter and Instagram pages. But one thing they have in common is the misconception that social media success is all about followers. We, however, have rubbed elbows with so many social media influencers to know and understand the contrary.
A huge following is just that — a huge following. In the practical sense, it doesn’t mean anything else. We have to keep debunking the notion that the most important thing in social media marketing, for instance, is to drag followers to your social networks. We see start-up business owners asking their friends and family to like their pages and like their posts. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you view it through a marketing lens. There, you see the mistake of being obsessed with increasing your following size and doing nothing else.
In our influencer marketing work, we keep telling clients to ignore the follower count because it is deceptive for the following reasons:
- We don’t know how those followers were achieved.
- We’re more concerned with the fraction of followers who are active.
- Just because people follow a page doesn’t necessarily mean they sincerely support it.
- Engagement is more important.
- Following size and influence don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
“I have five thousand followers on my Facebook page, but my blog sees little inbound traffic from Facebook.”
“None of my 2,150 Twitter followers cares about my tweets.”
These are sad tales we commonly hear from people trying to build their social media empires. These remarks are an indication of the failure of following to translate into meaningful variables. This is why we have looked past this figure.
So what numbers do we care about?
If you’re running a Facebook page you probably sometimes look at this figure and wonder what it is. Well, it’s basically the number of people who see your Facebook content (in this case). Of course, you want your reach to be high. It means your content is visible to more people on social media. Reach is affected by a number of factors like the quality of your content and the effectiveness of your social media marketing strategy. Influencer marketing increases your reach organically. That’s why it’s one of the strategies done in association with content and social media marketing.
Reach affects your likes and shares. Basically, the more reach you have, the greater the likes and shares of your posts will be. The reason you want higher reach is because it means you’re exposing your brand to more people. It means more people will see your content. In turn, that means a greater likelihood for your content to be consumed. But then the quality of your content and the effectiveness of your message determine whether you’ll grab people’s attention or not.
Shares in their different forms across various social sites are the life-giving blood of your brand. The amount of shares is an indicator of your brand’s reach. Shares have a positive feedback effect on your content. As more people share your post, more audiences get to see it and more people will share it. Shares are a better indicator of your message’s relevance than likes.
Shares carry a stronger impression on audiences than likes. When you see a friend share a blog post or another Facebook post, you get the impression that they found it important enough that they wanted to share it with their friends. So out of curiosity you read the post, and chances are, you like it and share it with your friends as well. You repeat the process and become involved in the virality of the post.
Observing shares is an important task in influencer targeting and influencer marketing in general. You want to know whether you’re getting the right people to help you spread your brand’s message. You want to know people are sharing their posts because that’s a good indication that they will share content about your brand, too, once it gets posted in the influencer’s channel.
Another reason we look at the amount of shares is because it also gives us an insight on engagement. Generally speaking, posts that are shared around have good engagement. It means not only are people talking about it but also are they compelled enough by its message that they are willing to share it to their social networks.
But the most important thing that shares tell us is the value of the content. When your content gets shared around extensively, it means it’s resonating well with people. That means your content is effective in all its intents. It means whatever you created works.
Are people coming to your website? If your social media campaigns are bringing in all the needed numbers for likes and shares but your web traffic is languishing, then it means your social media success hasn’t translated to web success. It also means conversion is poor. Conversion is eventually what we’re aiming for whether we’re doing SEO, content marketing, or influencer marketing. All the creative strategies we come up with boil down to wanting people to go to our product and service pages and increasing our sales. That’s the whole point in marketing. So when all those thousands of likes and shares don’t move your sales volume, something is wrong.
Shares bring your content to more audiences. Making people share your content brings your brand closer to them. What brings them even closer is going to your website. This is why businesses monitor inbound traffic and track where it’s coming from.
This is where draw the line between social media popularity and influence. Not everyone with large numbers of followers wield influence over them. There are social media celebrities, people who are famous for sharing fun stuff and for being good looking and for other weird things. Then there are influencers, people with authority, expertise, and experience who can make their followers act through inspiration, suggestion, and request. In influencer targeting, we’re looking for these people. Influencer marketing isn’t about marketing with and through just any famous bloke on Instagram. We want to know whether that person can move his or her followers into doing something. That’s what influence is about.