Does It Really Matter How Many Fans You Have?

Last week we finished up the 30 Days to 3,000 Fans program and while some people may or may not have reached the 3,000 fan target, the real question is: does the number of fans really matter? Last night I was watching a video of Seth Godin where he says “it’s worthless to have lots and lots of friends on Facebook.” With so many people selling the importance of having fans, followers, and friends though, how could Seth Godin, a thought leader in marketing, make such an assertion?

It’s Relationship Marketing

Seth has a valid point. If you don’t build valuable relationships with people, do those relationships really matter? I have numerous friends on Facebook that have found me through this blog but for those that have never spoken to me, the relationship really doesn’t matter much because we have nothing to discuss. In my “5 Phases of the Facebook Sales Funnel” article, I highlighted how Facebook is a platform for relationship marketing.

However day after day, we look at the Facebook pages leaderboard to see who is the new company to surpass one million fans. Can you use that distribution for promoting discounts? Most definitely! Will it drive sales? Seth Godin doesn’t think so but for Dell, the company was able to generate $1 million in sales from their Twitter usage. For a company with $61 billion in annual sales, does that really matter? Your guess is as good as mine.

Cocktail Parties Are Good For Selling Cocktails

Will 3,000, 12,000, or 1 million fans alone make your business more successful? Honestly, I doubt it. Social media is like a cocktail party and while it’s cool to be popular at cocktail parties, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up making more money. There’s a good chance however that you’ll end up getting drunk. The opportunity is to interact with fans that previously would have had no way of getting in touch or for those passionate (or angry) customers to reach out to you directly.

You also have the opportunity to build real relationships with existing and future customers. However, if the only thing you want to keep track of is how many fans you have (or how many business cards you collected at a cocktail party), you probably aren’t going to build any sort of significant new business from leveraging these new technologies. These new platforms (Facebook Pages, Twitter, etc) provide you with the opportunity to build real relationships, but if you don’t use them for that, your missing the point.

Do you agree/disagree? How important do you think a company’s number of followers or fans matters to generating business?