Dump your followers!

Picture credit: NathanHulls.Com

This post was prompted by a conversation I had in the #MMChat with SPECIAL guest @GlenGilmore on twitter, that takes place Monday nights. We got a little hung up on the whole “engagement” thing.

I get tired of being told that:

“It’s all about the engagement”,

“It’s all about the conversation.”

Time for a reality check. A minimum of 95% of the connections in mostpeoples networks are passive in social-media channels. It’s a bit like the number of people who have real conversations with others outside of their immediate circle or acquaintances in a bar, not very many. Social, often reflects real life.

I like to think I engage quite a lot. In any one day I will join conversations, tweet individuals directly, take part in twitter chats, introduce others and comment or answer questions where I can. I think I’m quite social. I will also talk to strangers in bars or on trains. it’s the way I am made up, but I recognise that most others are different.

I have 6327 followers, and follow 5,686 as of now. I have 2,500 “friends” on Facebook and 1,800 connections on Linked In., as well as owning 2 groups, 1 with 6,800 members and 1 with 700 members. Some of these people will be connected with me across multiple channels and others just in one place. Some will be idle accounts and others will be number collectors that are LIONS on Linked In or hoping for a follow back. (Not sure on the Facebook term? Promiscuous Friends?). The odd one stripper or spammer may have slipped through. Not giant numbers, but bigger than the average and growing every day.

Within this collective network, I have no more than 100 separate interactions with individuals in a day. Thats a very small % of people I’m engaging with, and I’d suggest that those with smaller networks have about the same ratio of follower/friend/connection engagement.

I monitor my mentions column on tweetdeck because I think this gives me some indication. This rarely goes over 150 mentions a day and is usually closer to 100. Now either I’m doing this social-media thing completely wrong, or people, on the whole prefer to watch others talking as an audience. You need the conversations and posts to keep the audience interested, but they are unlikely to engage with you very often.

That doesn’t mean I undervalue those I “talk” to, far from it, they are the most important people in my network because together we provide content. our conversation must be interesting or so many people wouldn’t be listening, but for most, it is a one way relationship.

To those who state quite loudly that they only want engaging followers or a network they converse with, I suggest the following action:

Unfollow, defriend and disconnect anyone that you have not had engagement with in the last month.

If you really believe that it is all about those that engage with you. Demonstrate that your belief in what you are posting and see how it works.

Now I’m willing to bet that you would end up with a very small network with limited future growth. You will all be talking to each other, but if you are doing all the talking, who is doing the listening? You will be more clique-munity and less community!

The majority of any network like to lurk and not take part. This may go on for months and then suddenly change. Your passive followers and friends are just as important. It’s not about the engagement or the conversation, it’s about the content you are putting out, and that you are keeping your audience entertained or educated.

What do you think? Am I mad to question this? Do your numbers tell you something different? Do I just not “get it?” Would be good to hear in comments.

Keep being ambassadors, in any way you choose,

Bill Boorman

2 thoughts on “Dump your followers!

  1. Sounds about right. Its hard to gauge what your passive followers,fans whatever are doing, but for all you know they are doing quite a lot.At the very least they are are a channel for your tweets,comments etc so should be viewd as important..Just because they are not engaging in the ‘conversation ‘does not mean they are not listening to you .

  2. Bill! Great post and my sentiments almost exactly.

    Engagement these days, with the massive scale of the major social media sites, is hard to come by… I mean true engagement. I read recently that something like 97% of tweets are never interacted with in anyway by another individual. That means that the absolute vast majority of twitter users (including myself, let’s be honest) use the site to do two things: observe and broadcast.

    Facebook, on an individual basis, is much riper for conversation, simply because you’re connected to a smaller group of people and can easily have side conversations. It’s news feed algorithms do seem to try to serve you up posts from people that you’d be interested in hearing from (an interesting article in ReadWriteWeb showed me this recently). But, that being said, I fear that for most brands trying to engage on Facebook, it’s not as effective as every social guru would hope. For instance, Coke and Facebook boast about Coke’s 10 million “likes” on their page, but really… what percentage of consumers who’ve said that they “like” coke are having any sort of conversation with them, or even listening to their posts? Probably not many.

    I guess my point is that while I do believe that online social interaction and engagement is incredibly important to a brand and will only become more important, I don’t think most of us have figured out how to actually do anything to be effective yet. We need to continue to innovate, but be realistic about how consumers actually use and engage (or don’t engage) on these services.

    But that’s just me, I’m sure many would disagree.


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