Why Follower Counts Don’t Matter and What to Look at Instead. A quick, down, and dirty guide to metrics.
All the marketing efforts in the world mean nothing if you’re not paying attention to the metrics...or worse - you’re paying attention to the wrong metrics.
In the biz we call some of these wrong metrics - things like follower counts - “vanity metrics.”
(A.K.A. - marketing jargon for sexy numbers that are total bullshit.)
They look and feel good, but ultimately mean nothing.
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
OK so obviously Shakespeare wasn’t talking about having thousands of inactive followers here, but he may have well been. You could have a kajillion people follow you on social media, but if they don’t show up to performances or donate then they’re not your people.
It’s OK if not everyone is your people. Not everyone will be, and it’s best to not waste any energy on those that aren’t. #noharmnofoul
Not all supporters will be in your area or have the financial means to buy tickets or donate. They can support you with likes, comments, and sharing your posts. This tells The Algorithms That Be (technical name) that you're "important," and The Algorithms That Be will be more likely to show your posts to more people. They can click on articles about you in publications. Newspapers and other publications determine future stories by the amount of times people go to a story, aka how many “clicks” a story receives. I know of major newspapers that stopped doing performance reviews and most arts stories because the editor decided they didn’t “get enough clicks.” So encourage everyone to go to those stories and reviews!
It’s time to stop caring about the numbers that sound good and feel good, but don’t give real, useful information.
Instead, there are two different things that are better to look at:
Hits to and interaction with your website.
(Engagement being marketing jargon for the data behind people interacting with you...not two people committing to marry each other.)
Let’s face it, The Social Media Algorithms That Be are fickle.
But the thing that seems to remain steadfastly consistent is that they’re looking for posts that create more interaction. More likes and comments. This keeps people active on, and coming back to their site which is vital to their advertising as a free site.
Note: this isn’t bad. Not all advertising is bad or good. You need to market yourself too so please don’t vilify bad marketing. When you do, that mindset makes it infinitely harder to market yourself. Post coming up soon on good vs. bad marketing.
The good news is that the posts that get a lot of interaction help you too. The more people connect with your posts, the more they connect with you. The more they connect with you, the more likely they’ll be to buy tickets and donate to you.
It truly is a win-win.
However, there is a downside if you’ve been focused more on follower counts rather than interaction.
The Social Media Algorithms That Be (still the technical name) look at percentages of followers to engagement. If you have oodles of followers and a tiny trickle of likes/comments, they’ll assume your posts aren’t engaging and won’t share them as widely.
In this case, high follower counts actually hurt you.
So make sure you post what your ideal followers will interact with.
Ultimately, the goal of social media marketing is to send people to your website, so the numbers from your website are going to be the most telling.
Pro Tip 1: Google Analytics ROCKS for this so make sure it’s installed into your website. It is a MASSIVE WEALTH of information. And the best part? It’s free! (Need help analyzing and determining your best steps from the information? We can work on that in a coaching session.)
Pro Tip 2: I say this should be the goal because you need to have a place where you’re in control. That place is your own website. Some try to use social media channels as a home base, but it’s too easy to get the rug pulled out from under you that way. Even a super-simple, bare bones website is better than nothing in the performing arts world.
Pro Tip 3: This is one of the many reasons why it’s necessary to have a clean website that’s easy to navigate. You don’t want to lose people due to frustration. And yes, this can be tricky if you’re a larger organization that has a lot of information to handle, but it’s not impossible. (Need a fresh set of eyes on your site? There’s a web audit for that.)
Go into your analytics dashboard. Then for each social media channel, look at:
How many hits are you getting?
Are they bouncing or browsing? (Bounce is when they pop in on one page and then leave.)
What is their average time on your website?
How many pages are they visiting while they’re there?
And the big question - are they buying tickets and or donating?
Bonus: this info will also help you determine if certain social channels are right for you or not. You may find that you have low numbers from a channel, but the people who arrive are staying a long time and buying tickets. Nurture that channel more. You may find that you have a lot of people arriving, but not staying. You can use that channel less. (Or even stop using it altogether.)
Note on buying followers:
Yes, if you have more followers, it stands to reason that you’ll have more interaction, engagement leading to ticket sales and donations.
This is really only true if they’re your target market. (Meaning, those who will get off their ass to come to a show.)
So while it’s tempting to buy follower counts or resort to tricks that will quickly inflate your follower numbers, the growth only helps if they’re people who support you and your work. It's better long-term to grow your follower numbers organically over time by reaching those people who will be your kick-ass supporters.
This week take some time to dig into your numbers.
Who is coming to your website from where. How long do they stick around? What pages are they hitting? Use this information to shape your strategy going forward. (Then do this regularly from here on out...I recommend a light look monthly, a fuller review quarterly, and a major review and retool yearly.)
When so many experts and articles put a strong emphasis on the importance of follower counts, it can be easy to forget that the benefit of more followers is to have more people go to your website, buy your goods, buy tickets, and donate. Pay attention to the people coming to your website from your social media accounts to ensure that those high follower counts are paying off where it truly counts.
Questions? Ask away in the comments!
Need specific help with any or all of this? Click on the button below to get started. I'm ready when you are, and look forward to hearing from you soon!