Why Your Number of Followers Doesn’t Matter

Why Your Number of Followers Doesn't Matter - Aidan Hennebry Graphic Designer and Marketing Consultant for Small Businesses-01

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to get more followers on Instagram or Facebook (or any social media site you use, for that matter) to continue to stay afloat.  You compare yourself to the other small businesses around you and feel like a failure when you realize they have a massive 24k followers after 6 months of being in business while you’re sitting at a lofty 423 followers after 3 years.

I’ve been there.  And I still struggle with thinking “If I had more followers, I’d be more successful,” despite knowing better.

The truth is that it’s just not that simple.  Judging a business’ success by the number of likes they get on a post or people that follow their page is a hugely inaccurate way to know judge how successful a business is (and what you consider “success” is also important).

Here’s why:

Quality Matters

Let’s say you’re a small business owner and you know that your average customer is a woman between the ages of 45 and 65 (maybe your business sells high-end home decor, the niche you decided on to boost business).  Ideally, you want this age demographic following your page because you know that each post has a higher likelihood of intriguing them and eventually converting them to a sale.

If your page were to become flooded with 200 followers, but they were all 16-year old high school boys, your initial reaction might be joy at the numbers growth, but your longterm reaction should be a little more disappointed.

See; you know from research and analyzing data that these guys won’t ever come into your shop and buy a piece of decor (not even something for their mother or grandma).  So why should you care about them following your page?  The “exposure” they can provide you is, in essence, meaningless to earning more business.

The quality of your followers is far more important than the quantity of your followers.

I would much rather have 423 followers who were my target audience, who lived locally, and were likely to pop into my store when they had a little spending money.  I would not choose 24,000 followers if they were scattered all over the world, from a multitude of age ranges, that wouldn’t ever buy any of your product.

Tons of Followers Can Negatively Affect Engagement

I’ve talked about how using Instagram Stories to drive engagement is great because those stories foster deeper engagement from your followers which helps you become more visible when they log into the app.

Every time you post something, the social network you’re posting it through is analyzing: “Is this a good piece of content?  Should I share it to other people who might be interested in seeing it?”

Things like the number of comments, the number of likes, and the time spent with your post on their screen all go into this mathematical formula that helps the social media site decide if your post is worth sharing broadly or if it’s best to keep it quieter.

If you have 24k followers but only average 240 likes per image you post, that’s only 1% of your audience interacting with your post, and the social site is going to push your content further down the feed because it isn’t recognized as relevant or good content.

But if you have 423 followers and average 42 likes per photo, that’s a whopping 10% of your audience interacting with a post, which is massive compared to the 1% of engagement your competitor is getting.  Not only is the social site going to reward you for this, it also literally means you have a better chance of making a sale from one (or more!) of those 423 followers and 42 likers.

Target Your Audience

Don’t try to post content that appeals to massive audiences you hope will begin following you.

Focus on engaging with your audience in order to try to have them engage back.  Comment back on every comment someone writes on your post (unless you’re averaging 100 comments per post; but chances are if you are, you aren’t reading my blog!).  Follow back relevant pages that are potential buyers.  Interact with their content to show them you’re a human being.

In the end, it really isn’t about the number of followers you have.  The number of followers someone has doesn’t indicate how much money they make as a result of those followers.

If your goal is to turn your Instagram followers into people that spend real money on your business, focus on attracting the right crowd and you’ll have a much easier time.