As a business, it’s tempting to measure and therefore manage how many followers you have, because it’s so easy to do. It is, ultimately, wasted time, however. Followings don’t prove anything unless your audience is engaging with your brand on social media.
If you take away one thing from us today, it’s this: you want active engagement, not passive followers.
Put simply, big numbers on social media no longer impress when AI can track and find followers. Many influencers are happy to pay for theirs. Many followers are merely manufactured. Facebook deleted over 3 billion fake accounts between April and September last year.
Big brands are moving away from paying influencers who pay for followers. Artificially inflated metrics for digital ads and viewings have troubled brands for some time now. Campaign US examined ‘the industry’s $1.3 billion problem: fake influencer marketing’, citing a study showing that ‘15% of all influencer ad dollars are spent on fake followers’.
Responsible marketers would have realised their folly earlier had they measured engagement rather than followers.
Some followers are real people, but they’re a passive bunch. People follow because it is easy. It’s easy to subscribe. It’s just a click away. It doesn’t mean much.
Consider your own use of social media. You may ‘follow’ many businesses, but hardly see them in your feed, or pay very much attention when you do.
Genuine engagement means so much more
Engagement from relevant audiences will widen your reach to more of those relevant people. The more your audience is engaged, the more they’ll like, comment and share, sending content to their colleagues’ feeds.
This is the best way to build brand awareness.
Furthermore, it makes far more impact if people have promoted your brand, intentionally, unpaid, and with their blessing. ‘Not another ad! [groan]’ magically becomes ‘Oh, Becky – she’s a great geography teacher. She likes these textbooks, does she?’
Engagement takes following to a whole new level
People engage because they’re interested. People engage when something has moved them on an emotional level. It goes deeper. It is an effort to comment rather than simply click, but this effort signals validation. And social proof is the real power of social media in an age when many dislike and distrust traditional forms of advertising.
In short, approval on social media has a halo effect.
We’re all influencers now!
And that includes the Headteacher. An increasingly sceptical and, indeed, uncertain public look to their colleagues, friends and family for guidance. Word of mouth has never been more important.
We tend to look to more experienced colleagues when making purchasing decisions such as new sports equipment or looking for a location for your annual school trip.
So be engaging
Create sharable content: great photos and stories, amusing anecdotes, top tips and insights, discounts and promotions, product updates and events.
Variety is the spice of social media life. Don’t be boring or predictable. A little humour can go a long way, as can asking questions or setting up polls. Captions that encourage comments are also very sharable.
Find your customers and their communities on their preferred platforms, then engage with them in a genuine way. We recently did a video on boosting your Instagram presence and done right, Instagram is a great way of presenting a vivid snapshot of a vibrant, thriving community.
Regular posting is a must. Consistently show up. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ has never been truer. Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. People are busy. They forget.
Social media is social
It’s a two-way street. Converse. Interact. Establish your authenticity. Conversation is the heart of social selling.
To sum up…
Don’t get distracted by the numbers game. Vanity metrics do not bring business. Creating a buzz among your best customers does.
Consumers buy from brands they know, like and trust, and that often begins with engagement on social media, their own or their colleagues.
The ripple effect of engagement is not always easy to trace, but it’s a surer sign that you’re getting things right.