In the short term, QUANTITY BEATS QUALITY in social media

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Yes, you read the title right. QUANTITY beats quality in social media hands down… at least for the short term.

Before you crack your knuckles and get ready to go onto a brawl with me, telling me how wrong I am. Read on.

We have all heard the phrase “Social Media is About Quality, Not Quantity.”

I know that it’s better to have 1000 crazy fans who adore YOU rather than 10,000 followers who don’t give a crap about YOU.

But let’s see, what do the two groups of people have in common with each other?

They both have YOU in it.

From OUR own perspective, quality beats quantity. We don’t even have to think twice about that. It’s TRUE.

It’s what we want. It’s what we work towards.

Social media managers often try to create quality content because they understand that quality content keeps your audience coming back for more.

Quality is also the preferred method of sending out campaigns and advertisements, instead of going all-out spamming your fans’ walls.

Once quality is established and controlled, you will find that your fans are now a community that strongly believes in what you or your brand does.

However coming from OTHER perspectives, quantity beats quality and the reasons are simple:

Social Proof

Generally, not many people will give a crap about the 1,000 fans who adore you. People don’t know about the crazy number of fans who loves you.

And people generally don’t care….

Especially if they are only glancing through your page and do not spend much time digesting your quality content.

They see the smaller picture, which in this case is the bigger number.

Have you heard people talking about quality of followers on TV? No, they talk about the Gabillion (Gazillion? Bajillion?) number of fans and likes. Not the number of quality engagement or the number of likes you get on a Facebook comment post.

In the first place, people in general define your social success based on the numbers of Twitter fans you have, the number of likes, RSS subscribers, and YES, they look at your Klout score as well.

Sadly, we’re in a society where people judge the bottom line. It’s how humans are.

It’s human nature.

People would rather eat in a partially full restaurant rather than eat in an empty restaurant. I know I do, so do my friends and family.

The same theory applies in social media as well. Whether you like it or not, the NUMBERS sell.

Personal story

Here is a personal story, last year, I attended a couple of conferences and on one occasion, half way through the conversation, the topic about Klout came up and they were asking others about their klout scores.

As it turned out I have the highest score among them! One of them didn’t believe me and he even checked to verify it.

….Because of that they paid more attention to get to know me and what I had to say.

Reddit’s Story:

You may already be aware of this, but Reddit grew their site using FAKE users to populate the sites and make it seem as though it was popular.

Again, nobody wants to be in a site where they are the only one. So Reddit founders submitted their own stories, as they wanted to set the tone so that others would share interesting stories and contents too.

That made the site seemed more alive and not like a ghost town like Google+ 

Here is the video about it:

In the short term, social proof can get you to places and open many doors.

It can get people to pay attention to you; it can get people to be curious about your work and want to get to know you.

In the long run, quality still matters and you can’t keep those numbers for long if you can’t add substance in your work or if you don’t know what you’re doing.

At the end of the day, its best to have both worlds.

Photo credit:  by Michael Cory

  • Nick Allen

    Aaron, this is a valid point.

    There has to be a quantity measure in any consideration of social. If you have 10 quality contacts, you might not have the reach to get their interest, or dissappear in their feed.  With 1000 medium quaility contacts you have more of a chance of someone they know retweeting etc. 

    The fact that 740 poeple have taken the time to subscribe to your blog via RSS is a great measure of how much they value your content. 

    What gets me is when it is the ONLY focus.  Quality needs to be there too. If that restaurant was half full with sweaty drunk homeless people you’d never enter.

    If Jamie Oliver – or someone who’s opinion you trust is sipping coffee in the corner, you’re going to dive in.

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  • Abdallah Al-Hakim

    you added an important part to your statement adding in ‘the short term’ – Quantity is undoubtedly important but as you move forward and get shaped by influencers – it is the quality connections and conversations that really matter. The problem with quality at the moment is that there is not a good overall metric that quantifies it. Still, if you focus on building quality versus quantity relationships, then I think a person will come out as the winner in the end.

  • Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I suspect that you offer good quality content so I just subscribed to your blog :) I look forward to more articles

  • Michela Stribling

    I have to admit the title of this post gave me pause and piqued my curiosity. You’re right that people will often come to a quick conclusion about your social media credibility based on your Klout score or number of Twitter followers. Your point that ultimately you’re going to need a combination of quality and quantity to make a difference is exactly right. 

    I was surprised by the Reddit story and am still processing the idea of using fake users to drive community. I’m curious: have you heard any further details?

  • Aaron Lee

    You’re right, there is no metrics than quantifies them, perhaps that is one reason why we’re all focus on the quantity instead? (then again, perhaps that is Klout is doing?)

  • Aaron Lee

    Those are great points Nick. I would definitely dive in to see Jamie Oliver.

    However not many focus on the quality. Recently my friend attention a conference, the speaker said he was the best social media guy in my country because he had an alexa ranking of 300,000. That was the first I heard and people bought the B.S.

  • Aaron Lee

    Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

    Any further details from Reddit? There is actually a post about it from a blog. I took the video from the blog.

    From what I learned, its quite common for startups/forums/sites to do these to make it seem alive so that others will join. @adam_pedley actually mentioned reading somewhere that quora did something similar.

  • Aaron Lee

    thank you mate!

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Ahh, the great Quality vs. Quantity debate – the social media equivalent of nature vs nurture. You make a great point and I agree with you wholeheartedly. In an attention deprived social culture, we need quick cues to measure someone’s importance, and on average and when strapped for time, follower count, likes, and Klout score is an accurate indicator. Ultimately, I believe that having both is the ultimate goal.

    This debate reminds me a lot about a debate I often hear in music. What makes a music artist good, sales or “talent.” Aficiondos are quick to point out that sales don’t mean that the artist is good – that it’s all about how good their music is and how little they “sell out.” This is this the quality argument. On the quantity side of things, we have artists who sell millions and are getting constant airplay. To a non-fan, that artist seems to be the “best” because of their constant exposure. However, that too takes skill – networking, promotion, connections, etc. Ultimately, the very best artists, Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones, Beatles, all had a combination of promotion ability to build the quantity, and the quality of music to back it all up.

    The ultimate advice is to focus on quality AND quantity, creating meaningful connections with your audience but also being aware of your visibility and promotion. Just my two cents.

  • Nick Allen

    As a final note – to reiterate Pavel’s last comment. Click the community tab on Aaron’s Disqus and you’ll see its about quality contacts too. @DMSscott, @kikolani, @Jaybaer all with positive comments – that is all…

  • Russell Allert

    “That made the site seemed more alive and not like a ghost town like Google+ ”

    Oh Aaron, you need to use Google+ some more… there are plenty of amazing people and groups on G+. It’s just not mainstream – which is a good thing.

  • Aaron Lee

    Hi Pavel,

    thank you for taking the time to add to this discussing, love your comment on the artists and sales and you’re right the best artist had both. I will definitely remember this story for a while.

    YES! combining both and combining other factors works.

  • Aaron Lee

    LoL! I know, actually that post was one of my most active post. Had a great number of great discussions there. it doesn’t look like what it seemed :)

  • Aaron Lee

    Thank you for pointing that out Nick. Have not clicked there before. (still getting used to the new disqus)

  • Aaron Hoos

    Thanks for the post, Aaron!

    We judge just about everything based on what we’d like ourselves to have. We’d love to have 100,000 highly engaged followers so we assume others with 100,000 followers must be doing something right. (At least I do).

    This is so true in so many other areas of life, as well: The thinnest person isn’t necessarily the healthiest. The person with the appearance of wealth isn’t necessarily the most liquid.

    I need to remind myself almost daily that the number of Twitter followers or blog readers isn’t nearly as important as the conversations that happen because I spent some time and focused on the few that I have.

    As you hinted at in your post, quality is a long-term strategy.

  • Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

    I’ve also heard of this “fake it till you make it” strategy being used by bloggers who have their non-business friends and family make comments on posts to make them seem popular.

    I’m totally with you on the restaurant idea but I haven’t brought myself to faking that I’ve got a ton of vocal fans. And, it’s probably held me back but I don’t mind.

    Why? Because plenty of people take the actions I want that no one else sees – They opt in to my email list, they email me, and they buy my stuff. And even if this stuff wasn’t happening, I still would feel pretty lame about “faking interest”. I’d want to look for another way to get over this “Social Proof” hump.

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