Social Media, Follower Numbers & What Businesses Need to Know

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Social Media, Follower Numbers & What Businesses Need to Know

alberta social media resource

This week on Casual Coffee & Social Media Questions, we tackled this question:

Hey Kat – I own a small business in Alberta and I want to use social media to connect with people. Some pages have a lot of likes, how do they get them?

You may remember that back In 2007, Facebook launched FB Pages and if you can believe it, there are 60 million business pages as of September 2016! Five years later (In January 2012) they began showing featured posts in news feeds; if you can remember that it was when posts would show up in your newsfeed from pages that your friends were engaging with. Therefore, a few years ago if you were building a business page on Facebook it would have been relatively easy to get ‘likes’ & engagement from the Facebook world. Plus that coupled with advertising (aka: pay-to-play) would most certainly get you a high return on dollars spent (in fact, recently I was looking at old ad campaigns in PowerEditor and could’ve cried.)

Things have changed:

  • More content is being created and shared. (Due in part to smartphones that make it easy via apps.)
  • According to TIME, the average users has access to 1,500 posts per day, but only looks at 300
  • The Newsfeed algorithm makes it more difficult to reach people without relevant content (which makes sense.) It favours sending content to people based on previous history – if you like videos, you should theoretically see more videos.
  • Pay-to-play seems to be the best way for businesses just starting out on social to get in front of the right eyeballs

With this changing social landscape it’s become even more clear that companies need to integrate social media into their business beyond communications & marketing.

E.g.: Back in 2013 I worked with a company to create a social media savvy culture. We offered employee training on the various social media platforms, encouraged social media activity, put social media resources in place and provided guidance. In fact, one of the programs I specifically worked on was a LinkedIn pilot program for sales people. We worked with sales people to identify their personal brands and how to appropriately connect with people via LI; in fact, one of the sales people wound up landing a quarter-million dollar account! Working with employees & offering this level of social media training and creating social media ambassadors can be hugely beneficial to your business – no matter the size.


Consider the fact that the average person on LinkedIn has about 275 connections. Or the average Facebook user has around 338 friends – think of how many that could potentially increase your reach as a business!

E.g.: If your business is running a Facebook contest with the goal of reaching Albertans across the province, what better way than to have engaged employees who know that not only are you running a social media contest BUT they understand HOW they can help make it a success.

We already know that people trust their friends and connections more than media or advertisements. And not much has changed in terms of ‘know, like, trust’ so creating an environment that engages employees, who can then engage a wider audience is critical.

But with that said, it becomes confusing when you see mixed messages online – numbers are important vs. numbers aren’t important. Recently someone sent me a screenshot of a LinkedIn profile whereby a member claimed in their headline to have “100,000+ connections”; a different scenario was a business who saw that a competitor had 10x as many likes as them – leaving them puzzled. Did you know that  there’s an entire industry built around fake followers?  Besides the fact that you can be penalized on social sites for buying fake fans, it’s hard to know which advice to take and where to spend your energy. So let’s break it down.

PROS of high follower number:

  • When people see a high number it can give credibility to your business; for some reason people feel better about liking or following (optically this is good)
  • Some businesses like vanity metrics (e.g.: your boss or his boss, because they really don’t know which metrics to care about.)
  • Higher number of fans has the potential to improve your reach (e.g.: if their friends see that they’ve liked a page or have shared a piece of content, others may be inclined to do so too.)


CONS of high follower number:

  • High numbers can be a lot of smoke & mirrors (e.g.: people/business who do ‘follow-for-follow’ method)
  • It’s not a great metric to use (e.g.: high follower number doesn’t mean your social media site is supporting your business objectives.)

In short, certainly when you have a high number of followers you can theoretically reach more people; and if you reach more people it could theoretically result in more business. However, we know that on sites like Facebook business page organic reach tends to be low (and on the decline) so if your fans aren’t engaged you likely aren’t converting.

Instead of focusing on the number of likes on your page, consider the following:

Business Social Media Goal Setting

Always remember that our social programs should tie us back to our business objectives. From there we should decide upon goals that will support those objectives.

E.g.: I want to be a brand ambassador for a camera company based on the personal brand I’ve built for myself.

OBJECTIVE: Create awareness to become a brand ambassador.
GOAL: share content that from website to social that reinforces online/offline branding/advertising
MEASURE: KPI could be something like branded traffic and custom reporting via Google Analytics.

E.g.: I’m an insurance professional and I want to generate leads via Facebook

OBJECTIVE: Generate Leads for your insurance business
GOAL: provide information that’s relevant/useful/engaging to the audience such as a downloadable ‘How to’ ebook on the claims process; Capture leads — Widgets like MailChimp baked into Facebook already;
MEASURE: KPI could be Conversions and # of downloads

Other Business objectives to consider:


Good Social Metrics via Avinash Kaushik

  • Conversation Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post
  • Amplification = # of Share Clicks Per Post (or Video)
  • Applause Rate = # of Favorite Clicks Per Post
  • Economic Value = Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings

Don’t forget to use UTMs. UTM are simple code that you can attach to any custom URL. It allows you to track a source, medium & campaign name. So when you pop over to your GA it can tell you where searches came from.

How to get more fans/followers:

  • Focus on Quality over Quantity
  • Analyze high follower counts vs. engagement rates (e.g.: someone with 1M followers may not have the same engagement rate as someone who has 1000 followers)
  • Use native analytics, as well as google analytics (e.g.: Is your content being shared? If you do videos, what is the completion rate? Are you tracking dark posts?)
  • Know your people (e.g.: what are they interested in? what are they reading? what are they looking for? anticipate their needs by using insights. Don’t forget that never before has there been so much data at our fingertips… FOR FREE!)
  • Give people quality information & content in a format that they want to consume it (e.g.: if you’re trying to reach busy people, maybe they can’t read a blog but they can watch a video.)
  • Be patient. It takes time. There are no shortcuts when you’re building a relationship – people still fall back on ‘Know, Like, Trust’



  • Know your business objectives and which social goals will help you achieve them; understand how you can integrate this within your social media program
  • Use good social media metrics (conversation rates, amplification, applause & economic value)
  • Remember that smoke/mirrors isn’t really that helpful when it comes to reaching business goals; large follower numbers does not mean lots of business.



Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.