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What Matters More, the Quality or Size of Your Social Media Audience?

What Matters More, the Quality or Size of Your Social Media Audience?
Image credit: Quka |

For some brands, massive social media numbers -- whether their own or bloggers they are considering for campaigns -- takes precedence over anything else. This leaves me to ask, when it comes to followers and "likes," does quantity trump quality?

Social media manager Jason Francis, of Social Media Samurai, says that "Quality trumps all. I know people with 30,000 followers struggling to raise $500 in a GoFundMe campaign, while people with 2,000 to 3,000 followers can move and influence them to the tune of $25,000."

Related: The Tools and Strategies You Need to Track Every Important Social Conversation

In an informal poll of social media managers, I asked, "What do you tell clients and brands that worry about the number of social media followers?"

Diane Leone, founder and digital media strategist for Butterfly Social, a boutique social media agency that helps companies market their businesses using social media, goes through an evaluation process to identify the top three social media platforms that will work best for clients' businesses.

"It's about focusing on one or two of the best platforms for your business and really building quality connections on those platforms," she says. "If you try to spread yourself thin, whether it's across all social media platforms or trying to get huge quantities of followers, how will you engage with all of them effectively? I advise clients to go for meaningful engagements."

Social media strategies are different for each business, but the consensus in the poll was that 80 percent quality and 20 percent quantity is an effective formula. 

Social media strategist and business coach Sofia Pacifico, of Increase Your Social Media Reach, says she believes brands should get the quality on top and the quantity that is relevant for the business will follow.

"What I would say is: Do you want engaging and loyal customers coming to your door regularly? Or do you want a business full of people just 'window shopping' and actually not interested in your services and leaving empty handed?" she asks.

Related: 3 Measures of Online Business That Aren't as Important as Entrepreneurs Think

The key to quality followers is authenticity in your engagement. The obsession with higher numbers has some brands seeking out "fake followers." Yes, you can buy followers.

Digital Megaphone founder and CEO Hope Bertram promotes authenticity.

"Something I always recommend to brands I work with is to make sure they are working with influencers who are building real audiences," she says. "The website is an amazing resource in checking to see if people's Twitter followers are real. It drives me bonkers to see 'influencers' with fake audiences."

The end goal should be to have the best of both worlds of quality and quantity, says Jarem Atkinson, a social marketing manager.

"But gone are the days where simply having 'likes' makes a Facebook page relevant or credible," Atkinson says. "Actual engagement is what creates value for any company, brand, or individual on Facebook. And you can only get real engagement and community by having quality followers."

Related: How to Build a Social-Media Strategy That Works