By Chaz Wilke, Staff Writer
March 28, 2014

Focusing on seemingly influential social media metrics such as followers and likes can be enticing. From an early age we've had the concept of popularity driven deep into our psyche. We're told we need to be well liked, gain a following and become popular. It's in our nature as humans to seek that status of being well liked. And that logic seems at home on the Internet with these quantifiable metrics. But the scrutiny placed on the overtly simplified metrics of Twitter followers and Facebook likes may just be a mirage.

Focus on the message. This is a simple adage with a simple call to action. Yet it seems so hard for the marketing world to break themselves from the comfort of the simple to digest metrics. Especially when there is a thriving industry promoting cheap followers, likes, +1s, and more.

Think about it. Providing a single number that quantifies your online marketing success is tantalizing. But this metric may well be a complete misnomer. Since we still live in a world where one can buy likes and followers for around a penny each.

It's clear where the equation falls short. Once the time comes to convert that following into paying customers the mirage evaporates and one can easily find himself alone in the conversion desert.



Followers and likes are not paying customers, at least not by definition. The logic of having a larger number of people paying attention adding to the potential pool of customers is sound. But the argument breaks down when broaching the concept of conversion.

Don Power explains on Sprout's blog, "When it comes to social media, quality trumps quantity every time. Don't be tempted to ‘boost your numbers' at the expense of building an audience that's relevant, interactive, and engaged."

A Purchased Follower Will Not Convert

The mirage of that simple metric of followers and likes dissipates when focusing on engagement. Bought followers will most likely sit politely in your pool like a good purchased product. A bought follower or like is a motionless trinket on the shelf, one that you can observe but not use.

Without any bona fide user engagement, go ahead and kiss conversion goodbye. Don't expect a retweet, and certainly don't expect any customer evangelization.

Beyond making the all-important sale, you want to engage and grow your audience. You want to evangelize your target market to spread the doctrine of your sales pitch and essentially do your work for you.

This means that without a doubt, social media marketing is not dead. Compelling content fuels the apparatus we know as social media marketing. Break yourself of the term quality. Don't even consider the qualifier great. Those terms get tossed around so frequently that they have lost any meaning in the affiliate marketing world. Those blanket terms are now stretched so thin that heads of companies think making great content is as easy as a flick of the switch or a turn of the dial. It is not.

There is a new cost of entry in the modern online marketing world. To stand out now, you must create content that emotionally compels your target audience to feel its importance. You must craft content that is ravenously digested and compulsorily discussed between friends in real life.

You must make what others will feel is important, not think. We trick ourselves into thinking a great many things are important. We scrutinize metrics and numbers with little consideration about why.

Let's assume you have an interest in generating leads as an affiliate marketer, and it's pretty clear you do if you're reading this. You would then need to consider the emotional value that your message means to your visitors.

Neglecting the emotional impact of your content broadcasts a clear message to your visitors. You will broadcast your lack of interest in meeting each potential customer's unique emotional needs.

Generate Exposure, Generate Leads

Another element in the follower mirage is the belief that exposure is solely a numbers game. While this would be partly true with organic growth, it is not at all true with purchased followers. A purchased following is an inert commodity, one used to artificially inflate an arbitrary metric of significance, devoid of message or meaning.



These fake metrics may hang like a dirty little secret in your closet. It may not be clear to anyone but you about your passive following. Just don't expect that number to engage in your marketing conversation.

Think of it like seat fillers at the Academy Awards. They look great in the wide shots of the audience, but they sure aren't there to accept any awards.

The key to generating exposure and thereby an actively engaged following is emotionally compelling content. And great social content proves to generate exposure.

The True Value of a Tweet

SumAll released a report last year on the bottom-line effectiveness of companies tweeting. Proven to be a net positive to the tune of a 1-2% revenue increase, Twitter is certainly a platform too enticing to ignore.

Where the discussion becomes interesting is the dissection of followers each company may have. A tailored and highly targeted audience proves each tweet a company releases would generate an extra $25.62 in revenue. A retweet generates an average of $20.37.

These values are in reference to an initial tweet. The decay rate on a tweet's revenue return is rapid. A user would need to generate 6-8 tweets that day to double that revenue increase. Again, not all tweets are created equal, so your mileage may vary.

This is why it is important to gather followers who increase your influence in your industry. We recommended you focus more on the message you send out and less on the follower count receiving those tweets or status updates. This holds true no matter the type of leads you're looking to generate.

Takeaway

Focusing on your follower counts and likes is a foolhardy undertaking. Don't be surprised at the lackluster conversion response from a hastily hoarded following.

Consider the message you're sending out. Are you speaking on an emotional wavelength? Does your message create more than just a want, but a ravenous need from people to share your content?

Ignoring these questions and solely focusing on meaningless metrics is a surefire way to halt growth for any affiliate marketer. Consider the benefits of targeted organic growth instead. From there, you can begin to dissect the reasons why people have decided to follow you and dive deeper into the makeup of your audience. From there it's just a matter of pressing forward with the messages your target audience wants to hear.

Marketing is a two-way conversation and paying a flat fee to gather a following may prove your message to be one sided.

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