I had a difference of opinion a few weeks ago with a social media marketer about whether having a high number of followers was necessarily a good thing. My viewpoint is that it is much better to have low numbers of people who have an interest in your brand and are likely to buy your products; than to have thousands of people who have little interest in what you do – these people will not bring loyalty or sales to your business. They do not add value. The alternative viewpoint was that high follower numbers (manually added, not grown organically) mean you show up higher in Google rankings. This person said that high follower numbers were preferred by Google’s algorithm. She believed having thousands of people following your brand was basically like casting a wide net in the hope that a few would get caught and become loyal brand followers.

The Google algorithm viewpoint is news to me. I have always thought engagement was key to online success. Please correct me if I’m wrong – surely it’s better to have 20 out of 100 people RT, share, like, and comment on your content than to have 1 out of 1000 respond? Mathematically that makes sense to me. The ripple effect should also not be discounted; the people who see those RTs and go on to follow you because your brand interests them.

This notion of quantity over quality is the reason I advise clients to steer clear of buying followers. You have no idea what type of account will be bought or whether they have any relevance to your business. Are you a plumber? Your preferred follower would be a homeowner, landlord, or business owner in your local area, someone who may need your services in the future. Instead, you might get thousands of followers from another county or even country. These accounts will not add value to you or your brand.

Build your follower numbers slowly over time, promote your social media channels in-store, on your website, and at events. ‘If you build it they will come’ works for me! Don’t stress if you don’t have many followers, that number will grow slowly. Concentrate on posting great original content, instead of on how many followers you have. Be reassured, the people following you are doing so because they trust in your brand. That is a huge positive point to concentrate on.