Do Social Media Followers Really Matter?

Merlin U Ward

Some people call the number of followers you have a “vanity metric,” but I think that’s too harsh a example of where social media followers resideterm. I prefer calling followers a “health metric.” They are an important part of your social analysis, but how many you have is somewhat irrelevant.

You can have strong relationships with your audience and even a high Klout score without having a ton of followers. To prove this point, here are the important factors that impact the number of followers you have.


Content has a huge impact on your online presence. It helps define your brand, carries your message, and even grows your following. But not all content is the same. The content that really impacts your following is salty content. Salty content is shareable, thematic content. Look at an active profile on any social media network and you will see it has consistently posted the same type of content to grow its number of followers. When Sharpie started out on Instagram, it was floundering. But when it finally landed on its thematic, Sharpie-drawn content, it really began to grow!


Engagement has an even bigger impact on your followers. Have you ever looked at Twitter Analytics? It shows you a follow and unfollow rate over time.graph of mentions, follows, and unfollows

If you are one to participate in chats, the impact of your content is more noticeable. Putting out good content during a chat usually results in a higher following rate. It is also sometimes coupled with an increase in unfollowing (albeit a lower rate, which nets you an increase in followers). This goes to show you how much your followers are listening. If they see content they do not like or seems out of place, they unfollow. However, if you engage and participate with new people while consistently using good, shareable content, they follow you! Don’t forget to follow back.


If you’re still not convinced, just look at how Klout uses your followers to calculate your score.

relationship of follows to Klout score

Your followers have a logarithmic relationship to your Klout score. This means that for every multiple of 10 followers (1, 10, 100, 1,000, etc.), you enter the next bracket of Klout score (10, 20, 30, etc.). Even then, the variance in the scores as the following increases is larger — meaning there is a larger difference between scores among the users with more followers than less followers. This goes to show that if you are not engaging on your networks, you can still have a low score despite your following.

So, do followers matter? The answer is up to you. Just remember it is a health metric. Getting hung up on acquiring more followers will not necessarily help you grow your business or your sales! You have a better chance of doing that by putting out great salty content and engaging people.

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