Audience development and social media – a matter of quality not quantity

This will be a quick one.  I have been noticing  more lately the “click like to help us get to 100 fans” or “4 more until 300 Twitter followers.”   In one way, it is good to get the request out there for more people to be interested in your Facebook fan page or Twitter feed, etc, and it may indeed help add quantity.  However, are you really adding quality?  To me the entire purpose of social media is to build relationships and strengthen these relationships between you and your patrons.

I know someone that has over 4,000 friends on Facebook.  Considering that most of us know an average of 300 people on a first name basis, do you think he knows all 4,000 people?  Are they quality friendships or simply “FB friends?”

I also know some people that have over 3,000 Twitter followers.  Most of them follow around the same amount too.  Do they really care about connecting with all these people?  Do they have the time and energy to do so?  Are some of these potential beneficial relationships falling through the cracks?

In the article “Clive Thompson in Praise of Online Obscurity,” Wired Magazine, January 25, 2010, the consideration of what happens when you get too many followers is explored:

Consider the case of Maureen Evans. A grad student and poet, Evans got into Twitter at the very beginning — back in 2006 — and soon built up almost 100 followers. Like many users, she enjoyed the conversational nature of the medium. A follower would respond to one of her posts, other followers would chime in, and she’d respond back.

Then, in 2007, she began a nifty project: tweeting recipes, each condensed to 140 characters. She soon amassed 3,000 followers, but her online life still felt like a small town: Among the regulars, people knew each other and enjoyed conversing. But as her audience grew and grew, eventually cracking 13,000, the sense of community evaporated. People stopped talking to one another or even talking to her. “It became dead silence,” she marvels.

Why? Because socializing doesn’t scale. Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following — who once seemed proximal, like a friend — now seems larger than life and remote. “They feel they can’t possibly be the person who’s going to make the useful contribution,” Evans says. So the conversation stops. Evans isn’t alone. I’ve heard this story again and again from those who’ve risen into the lower ranks of microfame. At a few hundred or a few thousand followers, they’re having fun — but any bigger and it falls apart. Social media stops being social. It’s no longer a bantering process of thinking and living out loud. It becomes old-fashioned broadcasting.

The lesson? There’s value in obscurity.

To read the entire article: Click here!

I have seen this happen a great deal with people that have over 3,000 followers.  I have attempted to reach out to them, and they simply do not have the time and energy to respond personally anymore.  Instead, you see messages from these folks apologizing that they can no longer respond to each message that comes to them.  What a shame!

Not to mention the fact that if you do not consider who you follow or who follows you, you might just end up with a bunch of spam or be inundated with too much information that you cannot use.

Unless we factor in quality for our social media experiences, the very gain that we have for using social media for audience development, the ability to form and strengthen relationships with people, may disintegrate if we keep clamoring for quantity.   Audience development is the chance to create two way conversations and social media is a perfect platform to accomplish this.  If we take away the quality and focus on quantity, you will be taking away the two way conversations.  You will simply end up with old fashioned, one way marketing again.

Just a thought to keep in mind!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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