digital marketing, digital strategy, social media marketing

Followers and likes – are they still important in social media marketing?

When some businesses first dip a toe into the world of social media marketing, one of the first things they focus on is gaining more Twitter followers and racking up those Facebook ‘likes’. Some people get obsessed with these figures, putting all of their efforts on reaching new targets. But are these numbers still important? Are they any kind of measure of the success of your digital marketing efforts?

How high followers and likes can help a brand

Of course, there are benefits to having a lot of followers. For example:

  • Your content is shared and can reach a wider audience than just your existing customers. The more followers, the more sharing and the more chance of a campaign going viral.
  • Customers and potential new clients may also look at follower numbers as a sign of credibility, although this can of course work against you if your numbers aren’t up to scratch.
  • You can also use the goal to reach a new follower target as a positive marketing point – get your customers behind the effort to help you hit that golden figure.

Likes and followers – are they pointless metrics?

According to Martin Macdonald in Forbes, social media marketers need to drop the obsession with hitting that next follower milestone. He says:

“Let’s be perfectly clear, tracking social media based on likes, or follower numbers, is a pointless metric. For a start, both can be easily gamed, but increasingly platforms are moving towards more sophisticated content targeting which for many companies means their chances of getting an ROI out of social media is significantly reduced.”

He goes on to mention these platform changes in detail – namely, Facebook’s News Feed ranking system. This platform ranks content according to relevance, so certain users may only see it if their friends with similar interest profiles also see it, or if they are perceived to find it interesting. This places a greater emphasis on personalised, tailored, fresh content – putting the pressure on digital marketers to come up with the goods rather than obsessing over likes.

Followers and likes have become more of an ‘opt-in’ system, according to the Forbes article. Users are basically agreeing to see your content in the future, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are engaging with it or your social media campaigns are producing a tangible ROI.

So, is it still worth bothering with these metrics?

Brands should always keep an eye on likes and follower numbers, bearing in mind the benefits listed above. However, it is crucial to remember the limitations of these figures when it comes to analysing tangible ROI results, and keep the activity to boost these figures in proportion to the results they produce. You simply can’t judge the success of a brand’s social media presence and engagement with users by two numbers, but luckily there are plenty of great analytics tools to help you get to the useful data.

What value do you place on your brand’s followers and likes? Are there more benefits to growing these figures than most people think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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