When it comes to social media, is it all about the numbers?


A recent Facebook conversation had me thinking about a burning social media question. Is having a lot of followers a good thing?

This is both an easy and hard question to answer.

It’s a hard question because some brands and companies will always think more is best and will go for the gusto, even paying for followers. They believe that this is the best strategy for their business and by just the sheer large numbers, the company’s engagement with its customers and its ability to sell to them will work. And maybe it works well for them, and their marketing strategy. It’s not my favorite strategy, though.

Thankfully, I advise writers on this. I also watch how other writers use social media to market themselves, so this is the part where it gets easy to answer the question. Specifically, I work with writers who don’t have much of a budget and therefore can’t really invest the money for the follows. So for them, I always start with this question:

What is the goal?

Different writers have different goals. I know that most would suspect that the goal is to sell books and, yes, that is part of the goal. Some want to sell enough to traditionally publish, some are independent authors and want to grow a fan base, and others want to grow a career. This last one, the goal of growing their career, is what social media is about. It’s called engagement.

Here’s what engagement doesn’t mean, numbers of followers/friends/pins/ etc. I know that this is shocking but having 1,000 people on one of your social media channels who don’t really engage with you isn’t as great as having 100 people who actively have conversations with you and around the topic you are writing about. Why? Because, like with everything else, people, more specifically the customer, feels more at ease buying what you have to sell when they are engaging with you.

Think of the general store. Yes, the customer will buy what they need but what they want (and what you want) is to feel good about their purchase and because if they do, they come back and buy more stuff. Sometimes, they even buy things you recommend to them because of your customer service (and of course your expertise. That’s another post for another day.) This is the ideal situation because now you are building a customer base, an engaged and returning customer base.

In short, engagement is really customer service.

Now, back to the question: what is the goal? If it’s to grow a fan base so that your writing career will grow, then you think customer service and engagement. They are one in the same in the digital world.

Then, dear writer, the next question is obviously this: who is your ideal customer? When you figure that out, you go where they are and engage. Go for the quality and keep engaging them, “them” become your future customer/ readers.

Some of the writers I love to watch and learn from (and I think do this really well) are Joann Penn and Alexis Grant. They always have such great information just like in this recent video they did together. They also watch how other writers and brands use social media to market their books/products, which is always neat to see.

So, is having a lot of followers a good thing? It depends on what the goal is and how you earned them.


Writers, how have you approached your social media marketing?


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