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What the Numbers Really Mean

Numbers4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Do you know the meaning behind these numbers? Don’t worry, as sad as I am that Lost is over, this is not about those numbers. Rather it is my thinking on the numbers we encounter every day while we engage with social media tools. Followers, “likers” and subscribers. What does it all mean?

Some small businesses base their social media success and failure strictly on these numbers. This is most likely because they aren’t sure what else to measure, and they are the most convenient numbers. Yes, these numbers are a sign of your potential reach which is very important to know because it tells you how many people you can possibly reach with each message you post. The thing to keep in mind is that reach does not mean the message will be acted upon, whether the action be reading it, sharing it, or responding to it. This can happen for several reasons including the fact that not everyone will be interested in every post, not everyone will see every single post or your numbers contain people not in your target audience.

The first two points are totally natural, but the third is the one on which I want to focus. You need to look at and evaluate whether your community matches your target audience. If not, the question for me then becomes how did you acquire these numbers? Did you grow this number organically overtime based on the information you share? Did you invite customers and others that already receive information from you? Did you invite everyone you know, regardless of their interest, to join you? Did someone you hired reach out to their friends to build your number?

Obviously, you can see the difference between the ways you can attract followers. You can also be pretty sure how involved they will be with you based on how they came to follow you. Some are going to be much more engage than others. Some may even hide or unsubscribe from your messages. I don’t know about you, but if I owned a retail store, I would much rather have 10 people come in my store and buy something than 100 window shoppers.

As you look to build your community take a good hard look as to where these people are coming from and if they meet your goals. A large reach is great, but keep that number in context of your overall strategy. So, what do you think? Agree or am I off an a tangent. Let me know in the comments.

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2 Responses to What the Numbers Really Mean

  1. Michael Guill June 2, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Great post.

    It’s pretty easy to quantify the return on your social media campaigns by creating landing pages, sales funnels and goals, and then monitoring the traffic. I agree that it’s of paramount importance to have actual listeners and community participation, but it’s also important to have strong depth in your community, too. The more followers/subscribers you have, the more likely you’ll be exposed to their circle of influence, and so on.

    To use your retail store analogy, I’d rather have the 10 buyers AND the 100 window shoppers. You never know how many of those hundred will refer friends and family to your business. In my opinion it’s always better to have more reach.

  2. Beth June 2, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    I totally agree about having 10 buyers and 100 window shoppers, but I just worry that people put too much emphasis only on reach. Like anything, you need a good balance.