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March 12, 2013

4

Why would you want a lot of followers? I don’t, and I know why

by Tom De Baere
followers

Image via @DCantuBiz

A few weeks ago I was training some people on social media. When I told them that having a lot of followers doesn’t make sense, they looked at me as I was from another planet.

As a person, would you want lots of followers?

I’ve always wondered what it would be to have thousands of followers. And somehow I now have thousands of followers on Twitter.

And what is it bringing to me? In the course of the last year I have come to know some fantastic people on Twitter and LinkedIn. They have shared with me some great content. They have taught me what books to read. And they have given me more insights into how digital and social marketing works. My networks amazed me at times: when I had a question it responded and gave me answers.

What I also noticed is that only the followers that I care about, care for me. I think that’s the type of followers you want. Having a network you care about, and a network that cares about you.

Having lot’s of followers that don’t understand that caring is the most important thing on social media, is like asking a question in the desert. Nobody will respond.

But when you have a network of peers, people like you, people you trust, and they trust you, that’s the type of network you want.

Check out the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, which confirms what I’m saying. I recommend it.

As a company, would you want a lot of followers?

I can imagine that you as a B2B company want lots of followers. After all, social amplification can be extremely powerful.

But the mere fact that they are following your company doesn’t mean a thing. The reason they are following you is self-interest:

  • Maybe they want to supply something to you
  • Maybe they are fans, but they still want you to excite them.
  • Maybe they are customers; they still want you to inform or service them
  • Maybe they are prospects, but they still want decision making information

And there’s no shame in that. You are basically doing the same. Somewhere down the line, you as a B2B company want to influence them to do business with your company.

What really counts in your network

What counts is to get your network “working” for you:

  • Sharing
  • Visiting your website
  • Responding
  • Generating mouth-to-mouth, online and offline
  • Contributing

I believe for B2B companies, it doesn’t make sense to want lots of followers. If you have them “working for you”, and you happen to have a lot of them, obviously that’s a good thing.

But, would you rather have 1000 followers who are committed, or 1 million who just randomly followed you?

Your follower count doesn’t matter

Don’t be obsessed with your follower count.

Not as a person. Not as a company.

Build your network carefully.

Maintain it, as a caring mother,

And it will love your back.

 

Would you agree?

 

Warm regards,

Tom de Baere

  • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

    Tom, you are right, the number of followers don’t matter. A follow is pretty hollow. Some people are “following” more than 100,000 people.

    The real thing that matters, and the thing that followers a bad proxy for (but used none-the-less) is attention.

    As a marketer, I want to see that we have the attention of our market. I want to see that, when we say something, people sit up and listen. If it resonates, they respond, share, or just quietly ponder.

    To think that a meaningful portion of “followers” will do that, particularly if you have been focused on growing your follower numbers, is just crazy.

    Nice post, I’ll be sharing it now. :)

    • tomdebaere

      I agree, that should be the focus of today’s companies. The effect of that will be more followers ;-).

      thanks for the comment.

  • Edwin Vlems

    You will like this video, Tom:

    • Tom De Baere

      Thanks Edwin. As usual, Seth is far ahead of his time ;-). Thanks, nice little video.

      Tom