When I first start working with my social media clients  I’m always fascinated to see what they’re doing well and what they could improve on. There’s a pattern developing on what I discover and I’d like to share it here.

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Mistake No 1. No Inbound Marketing

They’re often doing a great job of pushing out information but not actively engaging their followers and wondering why they’re not getting any traction. I go and investigate their sites and see their Facebook and Twitter updates say ‘Read our blog post, look at our latest product, hear our latest news, buy this from us.’

There are often no questions being asked, no sharing of information other than their own, no getting feedback on something they’re doing and no incentives to stick around. When the whole definition of Social Media is about a two way communication street, is it any wonder why their audience is not engaged?

Mistake No 2: Inconsistency

They’re not being consistent – a Twitter account they posted to back in April 2010, a semi completed LinkedIn profile, a Facebook group that is stagnant or a mild obsession with numbers and status.

You have to be seen on these sites regularly talking to people, being of us and value and engaging otherwise in this instant 24/7 world you’ll be forgotten. I’m not talking 80 tweets a day and 20 new Facebook posts but at least once a day, or one video every two weeks, 1-2 blog posts a week and 3-4 LinkedIn questions answered per week.

Mistake No 4: Faking popularity

I was worried when one client told me they’d hired an agency to get their Twitter following up. When I looked at their account, I saw they had tweeted just 37 times yet had 903 followers, and were following no-one.

Whoever their agency was, I figured they should be fired. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And anyone who looks at that account must surely see something wrong. I can bet their followers are not useful or in many cases, real. So essentially they’re not using Twitter at all effectively. What’s more, the agency failed to understand how to use Twitter properly.

Mistake No 4: Lack of measurement

Many of my clients are not measuring their efforts. Much like a business plan with goals and tactics in place to ensure you stay on track, social media requires you to check in on what you’re doing and whether it’s benefiting your business. It’s as simple as checking on some key metrics every 2-4 weeks to ensure you can analyse what’s working and what’s not.

Social Media Numbers & Metrics. Do numbers matter?

I recently came across a question asked on LinkedIn and decided to provide my answers below so you know what my stance is on this. I’d like to hear yours too.

1. What is your opinion on follower counts, building community?
Quality matters. I’ve seen people achieve amazing interaction and success with a small but engaged audience on Twitter, Facebook and beyond. As your popularity starts to grow, so too will your following and your voice is made more powerful thanks to your community. But it’s far more useful to have a community that is loyal, caring, sharing, engaged and relevant then 1,000 followers who are autobots!

2. Do you care if you have an audience, a community in social media?
Yes totally. It’s my entire business plus it drives me every day to do more, provide more value, reach more people, offer help and advice. A community means you’re building something that matters. That resonates with others. Together you can make even more impact.

3. How do you measure success of your community building? Number of members, engagement, referrals, business?
Two ways. 1. Gut feel – you know when you’re doing the right things, you get responses everywhere. Twitter RTs, conversations, Facebook likes, shares, comments and blog comments for example. People say ‘Oh I heard about you here, here and here.’

2. My social media metric spreadsheet that I update every two weeks (when I’m disciplined) and fill in the numbers to gauge how I’m doing. If I see growth I’m happy, if something’s not working out I investigate why. Normally this is reserved for my Social Media Bootcampers but if you’d like a copy you can download my Social Media ROI Tracking Analysis Template.

4. What tools do you use to measure?
Several as you can see in the spreadsheet. Although I’m investigating using Seesmic and ReachCast as my main dashboard that pulls the data together for me. Currently I use the great free tools many of the main sites offer – Facebook Insights, YouTube Insights, Hootsuite Analytics, Google Analytics, Feedburner and Mailchimp Reports.

5.How do you manage your Twitter followers?
When I started out, I did this manually. I would personally check on each and every person who followed me via Twitter and then follow them back if they seemed real, authentic and interesting. I would still advise people to do this up to around 500 followers. For me it meant I began with a quality following.

After that it’s way too time consuming. I now use Tweet Adder to regularly follow people back all at once. Among many other great features it also adds an autoresponder. Initially I was against these but if done well there’s no harm in saying who you are, what you do, why that matters and to provide a link to your website or blog. It’s better than having no response.

6. What do you do with people who follow you or don’t follow you on Twitter?
I stopped caring about people who don’t follow me on Twitter as I can still connect with them and have great conversations and that’s what matters. It’s only when I go to DM (direct message) them that I actually find out if they’re following me or not. At that point I generally ask them to  so that I can share something privately.

For those that follow me – I care a lot and periodically will take a look down my recent followers to then personally say hi – although I find that happens naturally once they’re in your community. I also am trying to make the time to thank people when they add me to their list because I’m touched they see me as somebody they respect or like.

7. What do you do and how do you feel if people unfollow you on Twitter?
As I said I don’t actually notice. These metrics are not important to me – all I have right now is growth, perhaps if things were going differently then I’d figure out what I was doing to turn people away and make sure I fixed it pronto.

8. Why and when do you unfollow people on Twitter?
When I see them spamming me or consistently delivering non-useful tweets. I unfollow very few people – maybe 1 per month, as I like to think I’ve connected with quality tweeters.

9. If you state numbers don’t matter then why are you doing social media?
I’m not sure this question is phrased very well. To me it’s so god damn obvious – social media is simply one of the best forms of connecting with people all over the world, and it’s the best and cheapest marketing and customer service department you could ever have! It’s also becoming a huge part of our business and personal world and the way in which we behave. It’s my passion. I do what I’m passionate about.

10. Do you have a goal of social media giving you a louder, deeper voice than you have with traditional media?
Definitely. I’m pretty sure I could not have grown my uber wonderful community without consistent use and experimentation with Social Media. It’s grown me as a person too. I think it’s opened my eyes to different ways of communicating, adding value and respecting cultural nuances and personal behavioural differences. I just can’t wait to see it developing further and being part of this movement.

So does quantity matter to you? How do you use measure your results? How important is your following to you? How do you attract a quality following in social media?