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  • Daniel Rae

Social Media: Growth vs Engagement

The holy grail for any social media community is to have massive growth and high engagement. Having an ever expanding audience that comment and engage with each and every post that you put up. This is a difficult, if not, near-impossible balancing act to pull off. Although, it's not something that should be ignored as a goal.

When we speak to a new client, one of the first things that we establish is whether they have a goal in mind for their social media presences - what are they trying to achieve? Some will tell us they'd like to get X followers - often a number plucked out of the air. Others will point to a competitor and say they want to be bigger than them. And others might say that they don't care about how many followers they have, as long as they are the right followers.

Is there a right objective to have for growth? No, not really. The key thing is that you have a reason for it. There is a clear difference between wanting to get 100,000 followers becuase your main competitor already has 500,000 and you see that as a good stepping stone, compared to wanting to acheive 100,000 followers just because you think it's a good number to hit, when you've not even established if that market exists for your product.

We've all seen something similar... You just need to ask yourself why that 'Garden Renovation Company' offering a free makeover of a garden for a follow and share really needs the 500,000 followers they now have.

Growing in the 'right way',

This is where it gets complicated. If we look at growth alone, we can sometimes get fixed on a monthly growth percentage or a certain number of followers to get by the end of the year. But this can cause major issues for your community.

Let us elaborate. If you push for constant community growth, you ignore the people who have bought into your brand originally, the result is that you then lose the engagement with them.

Take this offline example. A local store has 100 loyal customers, it's ticking along and it pays the bills. Those customers come to the store for the conversation, the atmosphere and the quality product. The store changes management and the decision is made to get more customers to expand and move to new premises. The store changes from a place to go for a quality niche product delivered by a knowledgable team, to somewhere where everything is on a permanent promotion. Every time you purchase something, the staff are rewarded for an upsell. Every conversation that you have leads to them pushing a new offer. Yes, that store gets more sales, it widens its customer-base and in the short-term, it pushes beyond those original customers. But, within 3 months, the noise of promotion gets boring, customers start to get tired of the same old offering and they move on. What then? Can you recover the old community? Can you create a new one? Both are a very difficult thing to do.

That leads us to how we advise our clients on growing their communities. Through relevance.

If you focus your content to your target audience - write it in a way that encourages interaction (as opposed to you just telling the audience) and concentrate on making each post the best it can be to grab your audience's attention - you are making steps in the right direction. As you will no doubt be aware, every social interaction results in the content being pushed to a wider audience (think about 'your friend XXXX liked this') popping up in your feed. This is called 'viral reach'.

Over time, as you continue to post high quality, relevant content, you will start to notice patterns in the types of content that your audience interact with most. You take these learnings, optimise your future content and continue to post ever more engaging content.

The result: you have an engaged social community and you have an audience that have bought into your brand for real reasons, not a one-off prize giveaway.

Who are we?

We Are Hydrogen, a specialist social media agency based in Glasgow. Our clients range from start-ups through to large global organisations. We believe that a well-managed social media presence can be a cost-effective way to change a business perception, resulting in gains that can't be acheived through other forms of marketing. We work with our clients to help them deliver the best image of themselves on their social media presences, whether that's through social media consultancy or full-service social media management.

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