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Are Followers the Best Way to Measure Social Media Success?

Measure Social Media Success

Have you been chasing followers as a way to measure social media success? Have you ever wondered how some people have so many followers on social media while others who offer solid advice and clearly do their own work have far less? The New York Times broke open part of the reason recently in their report on an agency that sells fake followers to athletes, celebrities, and more. In some cases, follower numbers are artificially inflated. It’s understandable why this happens. Many companies that work with influencers are looking for a certain number of followers. For example, when you dip your toe into social media or blogging you may have learned about the term social proof. Social proof is the concept that followers give validity to your message. The more followers you have the more likely people are to believe you going forward. Popularity online is highly valued and as it turns out, pretty easy to fake.

Is it a good idea to amplify your message this way? No. You could become the future target of an investigative piece. In all seriousness, this is a short cut that might provide some fast return, but overall threatens to harm your online image. Anyone who is a little bit knowledgeable about social media will be able to easily see that many of your followers are fakes or bots. Even though your newfound followers might retweet your message, they won’t be reaching any actual people. And in worst case scenarios, fake followers can actually decrease your organic reach. When your followers don’t respond to your posts in a meaningful way, it sends a signal that your content isn’t meaningful. That means the chances that more people will be able to discover what you have shared goes down. Furthermore, fake followers are not going to turn into customers. So while you may have achieved a short term goal and look more popular on Twitter, you are not actually getting any closer to your goals. So on social media, it’s not really a good idea to fake it until you make it.

Buying followers is a bad idea. In reality, this is probably something you already understand even if you didn’t have the exact points to support your argument. But what does it mean for selecting influencers? How can you tell if your social media program is successful? What are the metrics that really matter on social media? How can you measure social media success?

Engagement is a measure of social media success


It’s a buzz word that everyone recognizes and for good reason. Engagement lets you know whether or not what you are doing on social media is working. But the engagement has to be meaningful. Retweets or likes alone are not enough to measure what’s really happening and if your efforts are successful. It’s important to really look at what is happening. Are people commenting? Do they seem excited to share? Numbers aren’t enough by themselves to prove anything, it’s really important to look and see if there’s an impact. If you’re measuring your own platform, it’s easy enough to know. When you’re looking for influencers, though, it takes more time and can be more intensive to see what’s really happening. Just look at a few tweets and see if they are getting genuine feedback. Look at the number of comments on Instagram and if they are spam or people sincerely interacting. If your business is at a physical location, you have the benefit that your customers might tell you when they saw something on social media. Some people are less inclined to hit like or share, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see your posts. When you get a chance to see your customers in person, you have a better chance of hearing in person feedback.


Piggybacking on that idea, another way to tell if your social media efforts are successful is to see if your social media program is increasing awareness of your business. While a high rate of engagement is certainly one way in which you can tell, it’s important to have other methods to determine if social media is raising awareness. One way to do that is to offer exclusive discount codes via your social platforms. If customers come in and use the code, you’ll know they are following you on social. If they don’t, you know that you need to increase your efforts to get customers engaged. Every business has to decide for themselves how much engagement or awareness equals success. Again, if your customers tell you they saw something on social or learned about it on social, that’s a good indicator they are paying attention even if they don’t hit the like button.


If you’re looking for an influencer or just want to evaluate your own presence, consistency is a great measurement. While natural humor and talent can enable someone to amass a large social media following quickly, faithful hard work and dedication will do the trick as well. Do you feel comfortable on the platform? Does that comfort translate on screen? Are you posting consistently? Do you remember to check your mentions? Do you reply when customers leave comments or post on your feed? These are all ways to measure how successfully you are implementing your social media strategy.

Buying followers can seem like a tempting and easy to way to skyrocket into social media popularity. But the success will burn out quickly and you won’t see further progress if you don’t also do the hard work along the way. Additionally, you may find your antics outed in a future investigative piece. While the slow road may seem, well exactly that, slow and full of hard work, it’s also honest, rewarding, and sure to last.

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