December 8, 2023

Are Followers Overrated?

By Charles Miller

I've been writing online since May 2018.

So I've seen a lot of trends come and go.

In 2019 and 2020, short platitudes were all the rage. People would post nonsense like "Staying calm under pressure is a superpower" and get thousands of likes and hundreds of followers on Twitter.

I even fell into this, to a degree. Getting all those likes and followers felt good. It also seemingly gave me more credibility as a person who claimed to know social media writing and growth.

In 2021 and 2022, useful but generic longer content became the dominant trend. People would post things like "10 websites that feel illegal to know about" or "10 Chrome extensions that should come preinstalled on your browser". These had more substance than the 1-liners of the previous age, but they were still empty.

In the last 18 months, a new idea has emerged: that likes and followers don't pay the bills, and you should always optimize for trust rather than attention.

So, is that the truth? Or is it more complicated?

As a person who's been around for a while and ghostwrites for many different types of people, I'm the guy to answer this.

I'll do so briefly...

Quick Note

Fact 1: You'll have a hard time converting customers (and especially clients) if you create generic content.

Fact 2: You'll have a hard time converting anyone if you don't create content that's appealing enough to get engagement.

When building a content strategy, you have to balance these.

There's no such thing as not caring about engagement.

You have to care about it, even if you're prioritizing trust.

What's Your Goal?

I work with agency owners who want clients, big-name CEOs who want followers, and course sellers who want a lot of customers in the $100-$200 range.

For the agency owners, I create trust-building content that gets a decent amount of engagement. This generates leads. If that's all they care about, I only write case studies, in-depth education, and occasional personal news. If they also want to grow a big following, I'll pepper in wider-appeal content and do mixes of both (e.g. Hooking with a client result, then transitioning into a wider-appeal body).

For those big-name CEOs, I create wide-appeal content with their personality and experiences sprinkled in. I stay away from ultra-generic "10 chrome extensions" type stuff, but it's designed to go viral. This generates followers and fans.

For course sellers, I create content that's somewhere in the middle: wide-appeal but also trust-building. Like the example of hooking with a result then transitioning into something like a list.

The first question you need to ask is, what do you want?

That'll inform the kind of content you create.

Resisting Simple Ideas

People get seduced by simple ideas.

That's why political slogans are always just a few words long and hit on a very basic emotion.

In this context, they like saying things like "Followers don't make you money. Fans do." or "Likes don't make you money. Trust does."

These are rough approximations of the truth, but you can do better than repeating simple ideas.

The truth is that all kinds of content are appropriate. It just depends on what your primary goals are. In most cases, you'll want to find a balance between supposed vanity metrics like followers and profit metrics like leads generated.

Finding Balance

So, how do you settle on the perfect mix?

Start with listing your top 2 or 3 goals for your brand.

Things like clients, customers, reach, and network connections.

Then create a mix that prioritizes the top goal and delivers the others too.

Don't let simple ideas affect your thinking.

Understand the nuance behind this.

Figure out exactly what you want.

Then create the perfect strategy for you.

P.S. Whenever you're ready, I can help you in 3 ways:

1. Copyblogger Academy - This is my content marketing community. It comes with 9 full-length courses, Q&A, and a lot more. Join 1300+ members inside.

2. Collaborations - I have LinkedIn growth services ranging from $300 to $4500 per month. Fill out my form to see if we're a good fit.

3. Consultations - If you want to talk 1:1, I do 4 consultations per month. Check my calendar to see if I still have availability.