One of the most asked questions I get as a social media professional is how to get more followers. I mean we all want more people to hear our messages, right? But, what if we are asking the for the wrong thing? Do we really want more followers? Or do we want more engaged followers that have a high likelihood of becoming paying customers? I know that’s what I want. I would rather have a small group that is engaged and active with me than some obscene number of followers that never even notice my message.

In 2008, Seth Godin wrote a book called Tribes where he talks about groups of people (tribes) that have a shared interest.  Based on this concept, I say we worry less about follower numbers and more on building and nurturing our tribes. By nurturing our tribes we can create brand ambassadors and customers which sounds a whole lot better than a like or comment. Let’s face it, a like doesn’t pay our bills.

So if we begin to look at our followers as a tribe, do we change how we think of them? I think we do. I think we care a little more about them and begin to provide them with products and information that makes their lives better in one way or another. We want to provide value to our tribe, not just try to pull value from it. I think this is the reason I hate the term “email blast” so much. Your email subscribers are your closest tribe members, so why would you ever blast anything at them? They have invited you into their busy inbox and you need to honor that with useful information and resources.

The same goes for social media. Numbers don’t mean anything if they are not an engaged tribe. Work on creating great content, sharing other people’s content, answering questions and helping out. You will see your follower numbers increase along with your engagement and conversions. I’m not saying this is a quick or easy process, but it is more effective in the long run. I have heard the stories of buying social media followers. Your follower list is inflated, but no one is paying attention to anything you say. You may as well have zero followers. Do the numbers look impressive? Maybe to some, but others will dig a little deeper to see what type of engagement you get. Consumers are savvy and will know when you have purchased those followers.

Does this mean you shouldn’t purchase Facebook advertising or other methods to increase followers? No, I boost Facebook posts when I feel I am providing good value to a targeted group that may not be familiar with me yet. I like to think of it as an introduction. Be sure to make the best first impression possible and bring these new people into your tribe.

Let’s stop worrying about followers and think how we can build our tribe and best serve that tribe.

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