Despite not being a fan of social media, I do appreciate’s its importance and in truth, it has introduced me to some awesome people who I may never have met.
But I try and remind myself, that it’s a tool! A tool for business, a tool for marketing and the best tools are those used correctly. So today I thought I’d discuss the numbers issue that comes with Social Media.
Follow The Numbers
Social media will continue to dominate our lives if we allow it. And it’s a sad truth that many people on these platforms can become caught up in following the numbers. All those follows and likes, they can become constant goals to reach, each one giving you a zap of dopamine. Feeding that craving so when your phone dings with a notification, you can’t help but grab for it.
I’m not immune, I have gotten caught up with numbers. Though I fight it a lot more now, take less interest in the numbers and have turned off almost all my notifications. I don’t like reacting to every “ding”, I refuse to be one of Pavlov’s dogs.
Now some numbers can help, subscriber numbers, engagement figures, conversion rates – these can all be part of your analytics that allow you to steer your business (remember, being an author is a business) in the right direction.
As someone who sells, I need to know my conversion rate as that determines just how well my business is doing. So this article isn’t telling you to shun all numbers.
But too much emphasis can be put on the numbers game in general.
The Lie Behind The Numbers
I’ve met enough people on social media who bemoan their numbers, complaining they aren’t “growing” fast enough, or that “such-a-person” has more numbers than them, that they can’t wait to reach X number of followers. You ask them why, and then shrug claiming it shows they are “popular”. Does it? And even if it really does, does popular instantly mean more sales?
People will gravitate to popular, they will follow accounts others follow, even if they aren’t as interest in what is being shown. And with the all too common option of bot accounts and paid for likes, even “popular” is not always trust-worthy.
(Before I get flamed, no I don’t believe everyone with a large following/excessive likes are filled with paid likes and followed by bots, but the truth is, this stuff DOES happen which can make it harder to truth).
But chasing the big numbers isn’t good. In fact, there have been so many times when so-called “influencers” on social media, with their giant number of followings, have proved to be quite hollow as they have little engagement.
There’s been cases of authors with huge followings who were expected to do incredible with sales, but instead their big numbers did very little because so few of those followers actually connected with the author.
I call these empty numbers. You can get a lot of empty numbers if you do the Follow For Follow or if you follow and unfollow, hoping the person you followed won’t even realise you’ve unfollowed. It’s a way to cheat at the numbers game and it affects everyone.
Companies Chasing The Lie
Sadly there are a lot of companies and brands who love the big numbers, forget the all-important engagement level, some just see the numbers – those thousands upon thousands of followers. Publishing companies can sometimes get drawn to this, seeing the potential of an author due to their following.
With lots of followers, they will DEFINITELY sell loads of books, right? Well, no, it’s not a guarantee. Though I do think more brands / publishers and the likes are starting to cotton on a bit more that these numbers aren’t the important ones.
So What Is My Point?
Be careful what numbers you follow. It is better to have a smaller group of followers with a stronger level of engagement than chase those big numbers. The larger number of followers you have the harder it is to get more engagement that matches up.
Social media platforms are really pushing the engagement angle. It’s why Facebook changed their algorithms, putting more emphasis on comments and even more so, conversations! You want to get your feed seen in Facebook (and Instagram)? You need to encourage engagement – not just “likes” in fact the “like” is pretty low down on the checklist.
Comments with replies are good. You like pictures on posts are better than just text, because people stop to look at a picture and many will scroll past text. Video is even better because you have to stop, press play and engage.
So this is my long-winded way of reminding you all, to back away from the follows, the likes and focus on the actual people. It’s one of the reasons I started The Merry Writer Game over on Twitter. I wanted to MEET people, wanted to CONNECT with people and nothing connects as well as asking random questions, then taking an interest in their answers.
Let me know in the comments if you are (or you have) at any time, been a little obsessed with your numbers?