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What's More Important: Engagement or Followers?

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

It’s the question that has marketing teams divided. Managers will often say followers; social media specialists will say engagement. But who’s really right? Well, it really depends on what you want to get out of your social presence.


The follower count is pretty much a popularity metric - one that’s easy to compare across your social platforms and easy to compare to competitors. It’s a simple way of seeing how many people favour your brand over other products, how much *potential* influence you have. This is perhaps why marketing managers prefer this metric – as it’s an easy and understandable way of viewing your brands popularity.

But Marketing Managers must ask themselves the question; how many of these followers are real? It would be naive to think, especially following the global disruption of chatbots, that all likes are from real people. And even then, how many are paying attention? With organic reach rapidly dropping to less than 1% for many brands, how many of these ‘likes’ are seeing what you’re posting? And most importantly, how many of these are existing or potential customers?

You can often tell whether a company has fake likes through looking at the average location of their followers. If they lack profile pictures, descriptions, or are from a different country, it’s likely these followers may be fake. So, what may seem like a simple metric starts to become a lot more complicated.


Engagement on the other hand, is quite a scary concept. How many people are engaging (Liking, sharing, commenting) with your posts? This is an interesting metric that shows you how relevant your post is to your audience. If it receives little engagement, it may not be engaging. You can boost your engagement through producing high-quality , timely content that is relevant to your audience.

A prime example I like to give is when we encouraged customers of Creams Cafe to visit one of the dessert parlours following the release of The Incredibles 2. Many of Creams’ stores are located next to cinemas, and as such, many of the younger audience either go from the store to the cinema or vice versa. This insight meant that leading up to the launch of The Incredibles 2, arguably one of the most anticipated 2018 films for younger audiences, we were able to create content that was relevant to our customers.

We created custom graphics that mimicked The Incredibles (but were dissimilar enough not to infringed copyright) and encouraged users that were going to watch the film to visit Creams Café afterwards. We then targeted the post towards users who were interested in the film and in certain regions where stores were located nearby cinemas.

This highlights the importance of understanding your audience as well as your own brand. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think what they would interact with on a daily basis. What are they looking forward to? How could your brand help them?

But back to follower’s vs engagement. - It all comes down to the simple theory of quality over quantity. Would you rather have an expansive audience who don’t care for what you post, but looks impressive to competitors & new audiences? Or would you rather have a smaller, yet more interactive, engaged and loyal audience? Most, including ourselves, would argue that engagement is way more important than followers, however we believe that neither should be ignored.

Clever marketers should be looking into how your number of followers ties with engagement. Are you reaching the right kind of audience? Are they loyal? Or do they consider you a throwaway brand? Once you understand that, create content that engages your audience and you will see your follower numbers increase organically. It’s not easy, but if your brand is in it for the long game, it’s definitely how it should be played. If you’re not sure how to do that, contact us and let’s double up & supercharge your social.


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