I know it's all PC and cool to say that numbers don't matter. Number of fans, followers, readers of your blog -- none of that matters. It's all about just writing and sharing great content because that is the core of social media. [dramatic pause while I hug myself]
Personally, I disagree. I think it's easy to say numbers don't matter when you have 30,000 followers on Twitter and 10,000 fans on Facebook or an email list with over 100,000 readers. And it's easier to fall prey to that thinking and not challenge it, poke at it and see if well maybe... it's flawed somehow.
I think numbers do matter for two reasons.
First, social media is so new that most of the folks hiring social media strategy types really don't understand the channel, the medium and most importantly, how to determine which social media expert is better than another. Enter numbers. If you tell me you're a SocMe expert and you are following 1 person on Twitter and you have 34 followers (do you get the feeling I'm talking about someone in particular?) then you will be viewed by a client in one way. If the other social media expert you're competing against for the contract has 5,000 followers on Twitter, a top ranked blog (by Google) and a Google search of the person's name along with the phrase social media expert turns up lots of hits... well let's guess who is getting that contract shall we!
Numbers serve as a proxy for people to make decisions about professional services they don't understand. I mean, 5,000 people can't be wrong... right? When folks are hiring for a service or knowledge offering they don't understand(for instance -- social media), they simply cannot make an informed decision because they don't know enough. So they crowd-source if you will. They look at the most famous or most followed and figure, hey, that many folks simply cannot be wrong.That guy/gal must be the social media expert I need to hire.
Second, numbers give you reach. You may be the most brilliant marketing mind the world has ever known. But if only 5 of your drinking buddies are reading your stuff... I'm guessing the world just found itself another ditch digger. Sure, in the beginning we all start small, but eventually you simply must hit a critical mass of followers, believers or members of your tribe that value you, follow you and promote you -- if you hope to be able to pay the mortgage and still have beer money left over.
Ok, so numbers do matter. But let me now talk out the other side of my mouth. Numbers aren't the end game. If all you're doing is driving your numbers and there is no content or thinking behind them, then yes, you could say that numbers don't matter. BUT....
In any marketing campaign, advertising, direct, social or word-of-mouth, we want apostles. Jesus had twelve and that seemed to work for him. So while Godin fixates on the law of 10's, I like the law of 12'ves. I'm looking for my 12 apostles. Peeps that think like I do. That revolt against that what I revolt against. And that will follow me in an effort to do nothing short of a complete and total redefinition of the entire advertising industry. Sure I'll take 12. But man, I'd rather have 1,200. Why? Not for ego or to say I have 1,200. No, because 1,200 committed souls could do some serious damage. They could shake up the the status quo. The could get 1,200 more thinking about a the new world order that is marketing and advertising today. And maybe, those 1,200 and their 1,200 can help me change an industry I love so that before my kids graduate college advertising will be a career they aspire to join. Now that would be progress. Currently I'm well behind, as they seem to be favoring singer, broadway actor and professional baseball player.
So while great content absolutely has a place in Social Media and lack of it surely will lead to your downfall, don't fool yourself. Numbers matter. Focus on growing your numbers.
Build your numbers. Be proud of your numbers. But leverage those numbers for good and not evil. Really, it's ok.
That's all I'm saying. What are you saying about all that?