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Friends, Followers, Fans? Phooey!

Don't be a social media lemming.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Get 300 followers per day on Twitter!”

We all have, and I’ve heard this and other similar enticements in just the last couple of days.  This topic has been covered ad nauseum by every social media and marketing blogger out there, but apparently the message isn’t getting out.

So here is one more shot…

Metric vs. Strategy

Measuring is a good thing – provided, of course, you’re measuring the right metrics.  The number fans on your Facebook fan page, or followers on Twitter, or subscribers to your blog are all important metrics that (indirectly) measure the reach of your message.  But they are not a strategy!

Getting additional followers on the social media channels is relatively easy, but what is the point?  Many businesses hold the mistaken assumption that more followers will somehow equal more business.  All it equals is more opportunity for business, but you need to have a plan to turn those opportunities into customers.  The real question is how many of those fans/friends/followers will convert?  What reason are you giving them to convert?  How are you tracking your conversion rate?  That’s what inbound marketing is all about.

Inbound Marketing

If you combine a large number of followers/friends/fans with an effective inbound marketing infrastructure, then you’re in business.  But building a large following without it is putting the cart before the horse.  Here is a basic outline of what inbound marketing entails:

  1. Create compelling content. Which is easier said than done for many people.  Creating remarkable content in the digital age requires some competency in four skills: webapprentice, designer, storyteller, and marketer.
  2. Optimize it for search. Inbound links are by far the most important factor for search engine optimization, which is why #1 is extremely important.  But it is also important to understand the basics of on-page optimization in order to maximize the visibility of your content to search engines.
  3. Share it with others. This is where your large following can start to pay off.  Once you’re creating compelling content, share it through your social media channels in order to drive traffic back to your web site.
  4. Create calls to action. Once the traffic is flowing into your web site, it’s important to have clear, prominent calls to action.  Make the visitor some sort of offer that gives them value in exchange for their contact information.
  5. Nurture your leads. Ideally, your leads would be entered into some form of database or customer relationship management system so that you can follow up appropriately and move them through the buying cycle.  Cull them when necessary.
  6. Convert your leads. That’s what it’s all about – convert leads to prospects, and prospects to customers.
  7. Measure. You need to be measuring all of this activity every step of the way.  Understand where your traffic sources are and which ones are the most/least effective.  Compare those against your conversion rates and use the data to optimize your efficiency and scrap ineffective strategies.

Having 100 extremely engaged followers is far more valuable than 1,000 who are not paying attention.  And even if those 1,000 are paying attention, without an effective strategy for converting that asset into business you’re just wasting your time.

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