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Too Many Social Media Marketers Still Believe Size Matters

A recent study revealed that social media marketers are still hung up on size; still worried about quantity over quality when it comes to social media marketing measurement.

As anyone who knows me or has been around me for more than thirty seconds knows I am a somewhat of a pop culture savant. I love to combine my knowledge of inane, otherwise useless information with my knowledge of social media and marketing and advertising.

Exhibit A can be found in an article I wrote last year for Marketing Profs titled:

Image"Baby, We Were Born to Market: Springsteen on Social Media Marketing,” in which I used lyrics from Springsteen songs and applied them to social media marketing.

Today I want to quote another fine American, Foghorn Leghorn.

Yes, that Foghorn Leghorn for after reading the results of a survey conducted by Awareness called the “State Of Social Media Marketing” the first thing that came to mind upon seeing one finding in particular was Mr. Leghorn’s classic lament...

"No, no, no! You're doin' it all wrong!"

This is the finding in question:











It was quite disheartening to say the least to see over 75% of the respondents still worried about size.

This is not the porn industry here, kids and this is not about buying a house… SIZE DOESN’T MATTER!

Sure, it would look great and would surely pump up your social media marketing ego to be able to tout that your client has 50,000 followers on Twitter and their Facebook page has 120,000 Likes. But instead of rolling out useless numbers as you wait your cup of coffee to finish brewing in the company break room, why not roll out how many leads and sales you’re efforts have led to.

And absolutely why not puff your chest out and tell the world how much traffic to the client’s website your efforts have resulted in. At least 67% of the responders identified that as being an important metric to measure and brag about, presumably.

But likes and followers? As my 7-year old son would say, ‘really?’

We’re not talking about the early days of social media where it was ALL about the size; it was ALL about who had the most followers, fans, likes and on and on and on.

Nowadays with the practice of buying followers and likes so prevalent how can anyone put any stock in numbers?

To me my goal would be to drive as many people to a website as possible who in turn become viable leads and hopefully, sales.

Of course there is one caveat to all of this. One minor little detail every social media marketing and company, brand and business should know.

And that is if your product, your service, your ware sucks… social media won’t do a damn thing to help your bottom line.

I call it “Social Media’s Dirty Little Secret” and I wrote all about it and I invite you to learn more about it by reading the article by clicking here.

Ok, so let me know what you think…

What are you, as a social media marketer, focused on when it comes to metrics?

How are you helping your clients or even your own company via social media?

And hey, if you’re one of those unfortunate souls who has to social media market an inferior product, service or ware, I want to hear from you, too. You don’t have to leave your name, I will understand.

Sources: Awareness Networks, Vitrue, Google Images

Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via emailTwitter ,LinkedIn or his website. 

Join The Conversation

  • Feb 6 Posted 5 years ago Dianne Bayley

    A business associate recently paid a LARGE sum of money for "10 000 likes". In managing his Facebook page, one sees that the "likes" are the wrong demographic altogether for his service, so every time a new post is made on Facebook, "likes" drop off. The associate (having listened to the "bigger is better" spin doctors) now believes that "social media doesn't work". Any helpful hints (besides sending him this article and comments) to get him back on track? Great article - thank you.

  • bkhowland's picture
    Feb 3 Posted 5 years ago bkhowland

    You nailed it Joshua. 

  • socialnerdia's picture
    Feb 3 Posted 5 years ago socialnerdia

    I agree that numbers should not be our priority and that anyone who focuses solely on numbers is totally missing the mark. That being said though, part of the opportunity in social media is enhanced communications and that means more reach and frequency in a more cost-effective manner. Being able to reach millions through social media  is pretty amazing, but as you said, it is meaningless unless there's substance. We need to see the value in each conversation, each customer, each opportunity to enhance experiences. And we also need to make sure that what we're doing is creating new opportunities and growth because otherwise there might not be as much substance as we think there is. This is why earned + paid + owned is so important. Gotta start with "earned."

    Another very important piece is realizing that you can't just throw money at something and not measure its value. Fortunately and unfortunately, the size of social communities is the easiest way to keep track. And let's be honest, if you are doing a good job... people will follow/like you.

    Size definitely matters but it's only a way to measure and to get to real goals like awareness, conversations, and relationships. 

  • ssamele's picture
    Feb 2 Posted 5 years ago SSamele

    Hello Steve and thank you for the article.

    It's funny, we all have to do that dance that has us two-stepping between prevalent social jargon and boardroom metrics (social media is a silver bullet / # of Fans/Followers) and the direction we'd like to lead them (social marketing takes time / we are all publishers / authenticity of the online connection). So, NO, size doesn't matter. But yet it kinda does. If they're comfortable with #s as evidence of some measure of success, then that's where we have to start. From there, we can show them the ways digital connections help us get found, connect us (eventually) to subject expertise, and ultimately help us better spread the stories we are teliing. If the fans are true, then really, the more the merrier! 

    Real numbers help. If for example, you want to offer up a bit of enticing content, like an exclusive video, and you fangate that content, it helps that you already have followers that can help promote the campaign from the inside. 

    Thanks again,


  • MorganBarnhart's picture
    Feb 2 Posted 5 years ago MorganBarnhart

    Agree agree agree and agree some more. :) Size does NOT matter. I'd rather have 50 totally immersed, loyal fans than 200,000 fans who MAYBE say something or engage once in every never. 

    It's far more impressive to look at a Twitter stream of Facebook wall and see a bunch of interaction rather than a bunch of numbers. 

    And you're absolutely right about the whole buying followers thing. I just wrote about this the other day. It's astonishing not only how many people buy followers but how many people openly admit to buying followers. 

    We want real people, not bots or peolple who were paid to do something. Gaining REAL fans takes time, consistency and a lot of awesome content & personality. 

    Awesome article! 

  • Joshua Lyons's picture
    Jan 31 Posted 5 years ago Joshua Lyons

    I agree with what you say for the most part, but I think there may be some exceptions... there almost always is some exception to a rule; right?

    You talked about how marketers put so much focus on getting "likes" and that's true, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. If you are getting likes just for the sake of getting a large number, than that is probably a mistake. However, we get likes for several reasons and we don't think it is a mistake. Here is why:

    1. For many people the larger the fan base the more credible they are. I would be more likely to go to a local restaurant with 50,000 likes than I would to a restaurant with 50 likes. That credibility helps increase sales.

    2. Branding. People pay thousands of dollars on print advertising for branding purposes. I've done some research on my own industry and I can target Facebook PPC ads to people who fit my demographic. I can reach a much wider audience for a fraction of the cost charged by print. The good thing about branding via Facebook is that once a person sees your ad you can continue to make impressions on them if your edge rank is good. A print ad might get thrown out and never seen again. [this is debatable.] If a person does keep the ad, then that's just the same thing as the person who continues to visit the fan page. Branding is huge if you have the money for it.

    3. If you succeed in building a large following you can include a social like box on your website. When people go to your website they can actually see which of their friends likes your fan page. When They see that on your website it appears as a type of a recommendation of your website and, by extention, your products/services. [Let me know that comment about a "like box" confusing and I'll try to elaborate.]

    4. You may have primary objectives that can be accomplished via your Facebook page, but will never be accomplished without driving a large audience to the fan page. I like to get numbers because by doing so I am able to generate sales through Facebook, get email subscription opt ins from Facebook, have my fans fill out surveys which helps me understand them better, and in general... I brand. Granted, in this case having a large fan base is not the goal, it's the by product. But still, the large fan base is necessary in order to reach these primary goals.

    There is a lot of good that can come from "purchasing" the right fans, if you target your Facebook PPC ads properly and have specific reasons for doing so.

    Generally though, I'll bet your right. A lot of people just want a bunch of fans for the sake of having a bunch of fans. That's not smart marketing... and like you said, kind of sad. 

    Thanks for the article and the statistics. Very interesting. 

  • Jan 30 Posted 5 years ago reyna

    I couldn't agree with your more- depending on the strategy we must ask ourselves WHY certain numbers, fans, metrics matter in social media. If you have 10,000 followers & nobody cares about your product than..you really have a absolutely nothing useful except a bunch of people who really don't give a flying f#@$! My company also assisted in a campaign for a less than exceptional product, and we were straighforward in telling the owner the truth & letting the client go. Fortunately, there are other things on the horizon for them, yet what we were dealing with was less than optimal. Great blog! 

  • Paxton Morgan's picture
    Jan 30 Posted 5 years ago Paxton Morgan

    I totally agree with this post! I always tell my potential clients that how likes you have on facebook is not as important as the message you communicate.

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