The Friend/Follower Quantity vs Quality Debate – A Definitive Guide

I am constantly being asked about the issue of quantity of Twitter followers or Facebook fans. I see tweets and blog posts about the subject continually. As a matter of fact, I recently posted one of my most viewed blogs called “Social Media Faux Expert Gurus – Evil Pied Pipers?“, which detailed one such individual with hundreds of thousands of followers. This post furthered the discussion about people with a ton of followers. Many stated that it’s not about the quantity, but the quality of your network. Though I agree whole heartedly with this premise, I want to discuss the other side a bit as well.

My view is this…  It is not an either/or debate, but a BOTH requirement. Meaning, you have to have a quality social network of followers and fans to be effective.  However you ALSO must have a large enough community to be effective as well.

Here’s an analogy:

If you are going to place a radio advertisement on THE most targeted station for your target market, but they only have 1,000 listeners, it really won’t matter what the percentage of response is, it will be way too small of a number to be effective or highly profitable. You must have a large enough target audience to achieve both an effective percentage and quantity response rate.

With Social Media, you must develop a highly engaged, targeted audience that is made up of significant numbers. When I say targeted, I am referring to geographic (when appropriate), as well as demographic network users. You need to engage with these fans and followers to establish relationships and connections that deliver value. You need to continually reach out to new targeted users in order to expand your community to sizable levels that facilitate enough engagement and relationships to make this medium effective.

What quantity of followers/fans is appropriate? That depends on your brand, target market and numerous other factors. I tell my clients that the minimum bar should be approximately 2,000 for a local brand. But again, these must be targeted followers. The delicate balance between the two is crucial.

For tips on increasing your Twitter follower base, ready my post: The Social Media Parallel Universe – Science Meets Social


14 thoughts on “The Friend/Follower Quantity vs Quality Debate – A Definitive Guide

  1. Another aspect to look at it is, although you don’t have a quality follower but there are chances of him broadcasting your message in his it is actually very important to have a quantity in addition to quality. Its not only the specific follower but the community that he is carrying with himself.

      1. Yep, I missed that part ;) My definition for a quality follwer is if he falls in your targeted audience and a bad quality follwer would be a person who either is not in your targted audience or is not good enough to bring value to your post. In the former case, I would still keep him as he still might bring some traffic/business. Comments?

      2. I would not be so rigid… Quality is also someone who engages and shares your content and generally helpful to your goals. They don’t have to be a prospect for your product.

  2. Yep, like I am ;) Thanks for your comments. Social Media is huge…I am still a newbie…Cheers!

  3. Great points Robert. I have some friends that have surprised me with their networks. Despite them having absolutely no link to my work or industry, they pass on my content to others and I have made great new connections. Thus, they are quality followers that introduce me to a greater quantity of more quality followers!

  4. I think we’re all still trying to figure out what makes sense. We’re seduced by the quantity aspect and sometimes get fooled into equating that with quality. But we usually learn that there is still no substitute for quality content, regardless of platform. Then the hope becomes… quality content will eventually attract quality followers (whatever that might mean to the individual). Ultimately, I think there is no definitive answer to this debate.

    1. Oh I disagree… Quality content is a must. Knowing your target audience and following them is just as important. We do both on a daily basis and see a direct impact on our results, relationships, new users and ROI. You must have BOTH a quality and quantity in your social community.


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