Number of Fans and Followers is NOT a Business Metric –What You Do With Them Is

Companies are frequently misguided by relying on fan and follower count as the primary measurement for their social media investments, instead they must focus on the outcomes of these fans and followers.

We wouldn’t buy a car without looking under the hood, or buy a house without getting it inspected, or hiring an employee without doing a background check, so we should also ensure we’re providing the right metrics for our social efforts.

Because fans and followers are so easily viewable by all employees of our owned social accounts as well as our competitors, it’s easy to use that as a default index. In fact, strategists should not serve up fan and follower data to executives, as they often self-diagnose this number to be most important and compare themselves to their competitors.

Instead, focus on the business outcomes of the account, whether it be for being involved in influencing them, transacting leads or conversions, fostering word of mouth, improving customer service and support, or generating ideas for future products or the brand.

Don’t focus solely on fans and followers as a primary key performance indicator, instead focus on the business goals the fans and followers yield for you.

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44 Replies to “Number of Fans and Followers is NOT a Business Metric –What You Do With Them Is”

  1. I totally agree with this, there is a rub here though. Executives that are not close to Social really want to know these numbers as they “think” it is one of the main indicators of success/value. I try to frame these numbers as just that. You are absolutely correct, it is truly what we do for and with those fans/followers/customers that is the real value.

  2. How about focusing on outcomes that “friends and followers” want, need or desire as a business objective. Businesses often come across as self serving when it comes to using social media how about simply serving?

    The yield is what you can do to serve the customer and that is how you get the business yield

  3. This is so true. Just as in online advertising- it’s not the CTR, it’s who clicked on the ad and what action did they take if any. Those are the people who are valuable to your business.

  4. Hi Jeremiah, 
    There are so many reasons why your advice is good.
    I recently gave a talk to some construction specialist subcontractors here in the UK and they were entirely unimpressed with the ‘how many people are using Facebook’ stuff. They are mostly in their 40s and 50s and have teenage children who find fan numbers interesting! It isn’t surprising that they are motivated by other concerns.
    What really interested the audience were the practical applications of the tools to achieve things they would want to achieve in their business – leverage their network more effectively, deliver good customer service, get their clients published and generate qualified leads their sales team could work on. These are the more effective measures of success.
    I really enjoy the insights of your blog and often share them on – and it is because there is useful content that can help us achieve real results. (Oops, just proved your point!)

  5. SocialGO #2 social website creator is quoted at LSE and  has a marketcap of less then 5 million GBP! Shareprice .01GBP. SocialGO is very easy to use (drag and drop), a social website is created within minutes. Keeping full control over the content and thus stay in control over your privacy.

  6. We’re actively encouraging our clients to move beyond mentions and to categorize their social media analytics by expressions of intent or behavior (like intention to buy, intention to view, having a problem) and then tie that data to other metrics. Volume is important but we need to help businesses take it a step further to surface actionable insights from this activity.

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  8. Mentions and Likes are a bit like a house party. Everyone who comes “likes” the party but most of these you wont see again but the truly important people to the party are the ones that return again and again because they contribute.

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