The Masses Don’t Matter: Why I’m Looking for Fewer Followers, Fans, Likes and Retweets

Over the years I have learned something about myself: I like results. In fact, I’m pretty much addicted to generating results to various efforts. Many years ago this might have been responses to “query letters” I would send out to editors to attempt to interest them in a freelance article contribution. Then it was writing copy and renting mailing lists to generate results through direct mail. Today it could be anything from tweaking the content of a web page to generate more visitors, writing a social media post that “goes viral” and generates a lot of back links or, most recently, attempting to generate traction with LinkedIn long-form posts.

For those of you who may not be aware, LinkedIn recently introduced the opportunity for its members to post longer-form posts that, if they get noticed through LinkedIn’s algorithms, are shared via LinkedIn’s Pulse to those outside of your existing network. That means greater opportunity for exposure, the potential to build a larger network of contacts and, ultimately, an opportunity to boost web site traffic and leads or sales.

Initially, only certain LinkedIn members had access to this ability to post. I, and a few of my clients, were among this semi-elite group and the opportunity yielded some great benefits. One of my first posts on my own LinkedIn profile, for example, has resulted in more than 7200 views, 253 likes and 39 comments. A post for a client done at about the same time generated more than 12,500 views, more than 1100 likes and more than 200 comments.

That was then, this is now.

As more and more people have gained the ability to post content through LinkedIn, the landscape has become quite cluttered. In the process, it’s become more and more challenging to gain the same level of traction. In fact, I’m convinced that in the not too distant future this option will no longer represent an effective way of driving the results that my clients and I are looking for.

It’s an experience that, I think, is a microcosm of what is happening around us across all digital channels. With so much content available it is becoming increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and gain the attention of desired target audiences. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect with the masses.

But, I’ve come to believe, that’s okay. 

Despite the admitted lure of having a post go “viral,” having a story become a trending topic or having a client’s inbox flooded with email replies to a featured whitepaper, online communication and content marketing really is an area where less is more. Effective engagement isn’t, after all, about the masses. It’s about individuals. The more closely we can move toward one-on-one communication, the more effective we will be regardless of our industry, geography or customer base.

Yes, we’re looking for results and we’re hoping to build an audience. But an audience of 1500 (or even fewer) who represent a meaningful niche can be much more valuable than an audience of 15k (or even more).

Still, our greatest success can come from identifying specific target market niches that we can serve in ways that they value. Only by doing that effectively can we hope to generate the quality of engagement that will lead to the results we are looking for. In this very cluttered environment that is definitely not easy. But, it’s a worthwhile challenge and one I’m eager to take on on a daily basis!

How about you?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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