Lately I’ve noticed a very stupid trend in the social media landscape. People, more so than ever, seem to be obsessed with the number of fans or followers that they have on their various social networks. In my opinion this is a huge mistake. Today’s internet is not about how big your following is, but how well you cultivate your community and what kind of relationship you have with the fans/followers who choose to be a part of it with you. I realize this is a hard pill for many people to swallow, because for so long we’ve been taught the more followers the better. Hopefully after reading this you’ll understand the importance of one meaningful relationship vs one million hollow ones.
Over the last few years I’ve managed to accumulate a nice group of followers on my various networks of choice. It’s not a huge network (a few thousand on each site), but I know that it’s a meaningful number because of the level of engagement and interaction I get from those followers. I also think that there is a tipping point where if you have too many followers you lose that since of community and personal connection. Seriously, do you think that any actor or big time tech pundit has a meaningful connection with their millions of followers? Hell no they don’t!
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again… I’d rather have 1 dedicated follower that cares about what I have to say and engages in conversation with me, vs. 1 million followers that blindly follow me for whatever reason and never actually connect with me. Some would say that I’m lying when I say this or that I’m simply being disingenuous. Think of it this way… Let’s say I have 100 dedicated followers on a given network. When I post something, all 100 of those people respond or in some way give me feedback. True, I’m not reaching that many folks, but I know for a fact that I’ve reached those folks in particular and I can then cultivate a relationship with them and learn more about their needs, wants, or problems. As a trainer, this is valuable information. Chances are, in whatever field you’re in, it would be beneficial to you as well.
As influencers or thought leaders on the web, we are problem solvers. What good are we if we don’t know the problems that we need to solve? How do we find the problems if our stream is polluted with the noise of too many un-related issues? The answer to that is simple… We don’t. Recently I saw a video featuring my friend Susan Roderick of the Unknown Photographer show. In this video Susan gave a quote that personally “hit home” for me:
If you have the ability to touch a person’s life, you have a responsibility to do so.
That quote is absolutely 100% true, but if you spend too much time worrying about when you’re going to cross some magic follower number threshold, you’ll never be able to live up to that responsibility. I guess what I’m saying is that you should take the time to enjoy and listen to the community that you already have. Learn from it, and together you’ll continue to grow. Remember, in business and in life, you should always worry about the relationships not the numbers.