Leaders everywhere want to know how to measure the success of their social media accounts. The easiest metric to find for most social media network accounts is the number of followers you have. It’s right there on your account’s home page, along with the number of accounts you are following, and in the case of Twitter, the number of tweets you have sent, even the number of tweets you’ve favorited.




These numbers mean different things to different people. For some, the number of followers is important. Some social media thought leaders look at follower count as a ‘vanity’ metric that should not carry as much weight as other account metrics like engagement levels or even following-to-follower ratios. To some extent both viewpoints are true. The amount of weight any particular metric should have depends on your model and if you are looking at marketing or servicing.


What makes a follower count a vanity metric? Having a huge following should mean that you have a higher engagement rate and more people are listening to what you have to say, right? Not always. What about those accounts that advertise buying Twitter followers? Those ‘followers’ aren’t real people learning from you nor are they going to buy anything you’re selling. Instagram caught on to this in late 2014 and did some wholesale house cleaning of these ‘fake’ accounts that were bloating user follower counts. The move didn’t really affect how real accounts were used, but it did shed some light on how this metric  was being used.


Here are some results of follower audits using the website TwitterAudit.com. It’s a freemium service available to anyone with a web browser. It’s important for brands to understand not only the social media audience an influencer represents, but also what their offline influence might be. If you look at the numbers only, the Biebs and Shatman are more influential than the leader of the free world.





Here’s a shot of my personal handle and our SocialPath Solutions handle:


Granted, without actively blocking new followers, you cannot prevent fake followers from following your account. What you can do is choose whom you follow or follow back. From there you choose how to engage your community of followers.


You should also learn how to listen to your community when they need help or when they are giving you buying signals. It’s also important to determine who the real influencers are in your market, not just the ones that have purchased their way to a legion of fakers.


“So, should I worry about my follower count or not?”


Great question! The answer is yes and no. Without followers your brand’s message disappears into the void. No one is listening. As I said before, the number of followers your handle has does have a place in the grand scheme of measuring social media success, but it shouldn’t be the biggest metric on your dashboard. Better metrics for success, especially in a social media support role, include clicks, favorites, shares, and other engagement focused values.


Think about it like this: if a client tweets to your brand’s handle, they aren’t concerned with your follower count. They are asking for something. That something can be help with your product or engaging you to see if you’re really listening. Sending a quick reply to their tweet with the information they are looking for is a better measure of success than how many followers your handle has. It shows you are listening to your Customers, care about them, and want to help them succeed.


The bottom line: Don’t worry about how many followers you have. Focus on the content you create and share. That will enhance your brand and give others a reason to follow you.

Featured Image Courtesy of MagicAtWork / Flickr