When discussing social media with businesses already actively engaging channels like Twitter and Facebook I often hear them tell me how many followers or fans they have as though this number is directly representative of their success or influence. It isn’t, not automatically. Each “follower” or “fan” represents a potential new customer, a new business opportunity or an existing customer/colleague interested in seeing what you have to say (or offer). However, simply acquiring more and more opportunities does not a successful business make. While it is nice to see the numbers grow it is even nicer to see the business grow as well, then you can consider your social media efforts successful.
Your “followers” all expect something of you, whether it is as simple as a few regular entertaining posts or full conversational interaction, they’ve all chosen to follow you for some reason. To effectively turn the numbers into business opportunities you need to give them what they are looking for. At first this can be easy, just ask. Then, listen; really listen because what they those initial followers tell you will help you build a scalable social media strategy. If they want to get a glimpse of your prowess or insight then give them informative posts. If they want updates on new products then use status messages to keep them up to date. Build your social media strategy – like your customer service strategy – according to what your customer expects.
As the numbers grow it will be a lot harder to give each follower individual attention. Most likely, though, the expectations of your “fans” will begin to fall into categories that, if you’ve really listened, will be addressed by your social media strategy. A scaleable social media strategy, however, is only possible when you stop simply counting your followers and start engaging them.