What I told myself in regard to the number of social media fans and followers in my various social networks was that quality mattered, not quantity. It's the lie I told myself and I was OK with it.
Even Brian Moran of Get 10,000 Fans said this, “Fan counts are the least of my concerns. Fans don’t buy from you, customers do.” Yet he has over 300,000 fans on his page so I wasn't sure if I believed his rhetoric.
My beliefs were further challenged at a recent virtual conference. I listened and watched intently as Lena West shredded my quality over quantity argument. (She ripped it to shreds and I'm thankful.) She asked why waste time with people with 40 and 50 fans and followers. That stung because at one point I was the start-up with 50 followers. Even now my newest business ventures has a whopping 57 Facebook fans!
Lena went on to say that as much as we may not like it, the number of fans and followers add to your social proof. Ouch.
This can be disconcerting to the new business owner. How do you get new fans and followers if no one wants to engage with the person who only has a handful of fans in the first place? Do you start buying fans and followers?
Former U.S. presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were found to have fake Twitter followers as well as new mommy Kim Kardashian.
A few years ago, I wanted this social proof so I did like Newt and Mitt and bought a handful of fans and followers. I ended up with a bunch of folk who weren’t the least bit interested in my service. I deleted them all—they proved that “fans don’t buy, customers do.”
Mark McCray said in one of his conference calls that, “Being known, not good is what makes you famous.” When you strive for excellence and spend time and money to perfect your craft, you don’t want to hear those words because you didn’t go into business to remain in cyber obscurity. I hated that his words were proving to be true and asked like every other business owner, how do you get yourself out there?
What is a business owner with no social proof and a meager fan base and following to do?
Make peace with the fact that the numbers do matter. There are a handful of people that will base their decision on hiring you solely on your Klout score. Ask Sam Fiorella.
There, I said it, the numbers matter.
But why do these numbers matter?
They increase visibility. According to Clara Shieh of AdvertisingAge, “Instead of links and keywords, it’s ‘likes’ that will get your brand to the top of search results.” And that my fellow business owners is what doing business online is all about—being found online. Again, no one wants to be in cyber obscurity. Brian went on to say in his presentation that, “Your fan page is a traffic source.” It seems that Facebook is positioning itself to become a search engine of sorts and the more fans/likes you have, the higher you rank in the results.
Online credibility – the irony of it all. In a community where you can buy followers and fans, the number of fans add credibility, even if a percentage of them are fake. Again, go figure! Sharing clever, insightful content adds to your credibility even though no one may actually be reading the content. I read an article today that described how a post was continually circulated even though the link was broken. No one bothered to read it; the subject matter alone made it worthy to share adding to each sender’s credibility.
Online credibility – the upside. With that said, you can also gain social credibility by connecting with leaders in your industry and engage them in natural conversations. This is what Lena suggested in the conference I attended. Don’t go into your best sales pitch as soon as you connect! You’ll be blocked and banned immediately! Plug into conversations where they are natural and engage them. Twitter chats are another way to meet and connect with like-minded people and earn credibility. Not only do you earn social proof, but you also meet great people. People, who may ultimately refer your business to a colleague, write the foreword to your next book or be a featured guest blogger on your site.
So…the numbers matter.
There’s no getting around that truth.
It will help online seekers find you and your business.
How long will it take? Well one conference speaker said it took a year to grow to 14,000 plus listeners of her podcast show. Brian can pull that number in a month so it depends on the network and technique used.
Come out of cyber obscurity! Earn your social proof and increase your fans and followers. The world needs the skills you've been honing and the craft you've been perfecting.
Lisa aka The Marketing Stylist™ is a public speaker, author, small business owner and marketing/design consultant. She resides in Houston, TX with her husband Elgin, their son and a rambunctious black Labrador named Kobe.
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