Blog Editorial

Worry About Relationships, Not Numbers!

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.


  1. I think a lot of times we get to busy to really tell people what they mean to us, hence they tend to grab onto the numbers aspect as part of their measure of success. If you don’t have 10,000 followers you should. I’m going to throw out a story to illustrate, and it might be long. In January, I was laid off from my job as a sports editor after 24 years with five different papers, mostly small. The industry is in a shambles and I didn’t know what to do. I have been shooting sports pictures for all of those papers, so I thought I would try to make a buck or two (hopefully more) as a sports photographer. But I didn’t really know where to turn until I delved deeper into social media. I’m hungry for any tidbit of knowledge or trick that experts can provide me. And Justin Seeley stands tall among those. You’ve given me guidance and ideas that I can use to find some measure of success in a crowded and difficult field. So maybe I’m not follower No. 11,987… what you have provided me is something that I will always be indebted for. You can make a list of the top 10 teachers, dude, but don’t leave yourself off that list. You are a national champion in my book. And for that I thank you time and time again.

    1. Todd, thank you so much for this man, seriously. Posts like this are why I do what I do. I’m always willing to help in any way I can. I understand your struggles (I was a print guy once upon a time) and if what I do/say can help you find the right path for you or your business, that’s all the ROI that I need. I’m fortunate enough to work in a field that I love and that pays my bills, so I have no problem with paying it forward in any way that I can. As I’ve said before, the most rewarding part of my day is when I’m teaching and I see that “light bulb moment” happen for one of my students. That gives me satisfaction, knowing that I’ve helped them find the ability to do something that they once thought was out of their reach. My advice is simply based off my own experiences. I offer no promises or guarantee with any of it, but it is what has gotten me where I am today. I choose to live that very publicly, as with all aspects of my life, in hopes that others will read or see it and be inspired or find an answer of sorts. Most people are guarded with their methods or “secrets” but I say the world is big enough for everyone to be on the playing field, so I’m happy to help others “get in the game.” Best to you and yours this Holiday season, and thank you again.

  2. Actually, Justin, I think that in the long run, you do ultimately reach more people with that smaller group who are responsive to you. They connect with you in a real way because you reach out and connect with them. And, as a result, I believe that is what leads to better and more solid referrals, as well as enduring professional relationships.

    After watching you on Creative Live for four days and then the Design Day, as well as countless hours after on video, speaks to who you are as a person, teacher, trainer and designer. I’m still struggling with WP, but you created the opportunity for me to want to learn as much as I could for my work as a photographer and for marketing my book. Your commitment to what you love doing was so evident. And your belief in who you are was also clear.

    This is what counts, I think. Positive energy is contagious and draws people to you and your work!

    All the best!

    1. Hi Jayne, thanks for the comments. I think you’re spot on with your thoughts here… No matter what I’m doing I try to bring 100% all the time and speak on things that I’m both knowledgable and passionate about. I also learned a long time ago to be “real” with people and talk to them rather than at them.

      Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again in my virtual classroom someday 🙂

  3. Justin you are such a breath of fresh air. In a dog-eat-dog world where people hold their cards close you just lay yours out on the table. Perhaps you’ll start a revolution…one ‘like’ at a time. I hope so. Thanks for all you do.

    1. Hi Marina, and thank you! I’m not trying to start a revolution, but I am trying to be honest and show people what works for me… Maybe that is a new way of doing things, but I feel like there’s room for everyone out on the dance floor, and I’m just trying to get people to the party!

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