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Social Media’s Chicken & Egg: Should You Put Content or Followers First?

March 15, 2012 · 16 comments

in Social Media

Chicken vs Egg Social media Content or FollowersWhen it comes to setting up a social media profile for your business, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or another social media platform, two things are essential for success:

1.Having good, useful content to share

2.Having a following interested in what you do

Unfortunately, a bit of a ‘chicken & egg’ scenario hatches.* Do you concentrate on getting people interested in the profile first, but risk showing them an empty page? Or do you take the ‘tweet and they will come’ approach, but risk sharing your content with little-to-no people to begin with?

* Don’t worry… I’ll keep the poultry-related puns to a minimum!

Concentrating on Content

It makes sense to have content at the ready, either before or at the launch of a new social media profile. After all, what’s the point of having a social media profile if you’re not going to be social?!

The difficult thing for most businesses – whether they’re a small business with limited resources, a company in a boring industry, or unfortunately both – is actually having something worth writing about that people will find interesting.

If you’re limited in the amount of news, articles and blog posts that you can create yourself or have produced on your behalf, then it might be worth sharing other people’s content; having something to share – even if it’s not your own work – is better than sharing nothing at all.

Of course, if you’re sharing and/or writing quality material then you’re likely to build up a following anyway. However, it might still take time. The downside to concentrating on content without building up a following is that not many people will get to see it (or share it with their own network of followers), which can be a real shame, especially if you’ve written something you’re particularly proud of that you’d like a lot of people to see.

Focussing on the Fans & Followers

The other alternative would be to try and get followers and fans through the door first, giving content the backseat until you have enough interest to really show off your stuff. Makes sense, right?

Well… the problem with this approach is that you might struggle to get people to follow and/or become a fan if there’s nothing there to interest them. If people visit an empty or inactive-looking profile then there’s really not much of an incentive for them to follow or become a fan, and so they might decide not to engage with it at all.

Which to choose?

So if both strategies are flawed, then what’s a good egg to do?

It should be obvious: concentrate on both content and followers from the start.

Ideally you should have something worthwhile to say, which makes you ‘followable,’ but building up momentum with a following should not be put on the back burner and neglected.

For those who want to share their great content first – to gain attention and encourage follows right from the start – but are worried that it may not be seen by a large number of people, there’s certainly nothing stopping you from re-posting or re-sharing content a second or even third time later on down the line, assuming of course that it’s evergreen content and not date-sensitive.

As for deciding how to split the work, whether it should be an even 50/50 split or more weight should be given to one aspect over the other, my personal opinion would be to give a slight lean (60/40, maybe 70/30) to content over followers.

As mentioned above, content can be re-used, and can encourage followers in its own right, however by also trying to target and obtain followers separately, you can expect a steady stream of people wanting to keep in touch with what your social media profiles have to offer, based on the content you have shared and created.

Image Credit: liquidnight

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Steve Morgan is an Account Manager at Liberty Marketing, an online marketing agency based in Cardiff, South Wales offering SEO and social media marketing services. Steve’s background is mainly in SEO and link building, but he’s also a bit of a self-confessed Twitter addict (Twaddict?) on the side…

Steve has written 1 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

Twitter: @steviephil | Blog → Liberty: Online Marketing Blog

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Edyta March 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Great article!
I agree with you that we need to create great content first in order to share something with our followers. Do you have any tips on how to write great content? Thanks!
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Steve March 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Hi Edyta, thanks for the very kind words.

Tips on writing great content? Wow, what a question! I would say that it’s important to write content that is unique and also try to make it interesting and funny if you can (even if it’s not a particularly exciting subject). At the end of the day, you want something that people genuinely want to read, link to and share!
Steve recently posted..There’s More To Social Media Than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedInMy Profile

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Steve Vernon March 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

It really is a chicken/egg situation, isn’t it. But I agree. There are way too many people out there doing nothing but building lists and getting as many followers/LIKES/fans as possible, but then not offering much of anything except sales tactics to purchase their goods and services. I’m much more likely to follow someone who offers content that I’m interested in, and then if I like what I see, I might actually do some business with them. We’ve all been guilty, I’m sure, of falling into the “build your list” trap before we were really ready to offer something of real value. There’s something to be said for the adage, “build it and they will come”.

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JamesW March 15, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Great post, but I think that content is on first place, once your content is first on google because it’s good, the traffic will come,
thanks for sharing.
JamesW recently posted..Top 4 Ways to Make Money OnlineMy Profile

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Steve March 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Steve – Well said. I’ve also been meaning to blog about how not to do social media, and that’s basically all those “give us a call/quote” tweets. Definitely the wrong way to go about it.

James – Very true. As an SEO (who does a bit of social media), I agree. Having good content is not only easier to share via social media, but it more likely to get linked to as well, which would assist with your site’s overall SEO efforts.
Steve recently posted..There’s More To Social Media Than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedInMy Profile

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techne March 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Great post…!
Content is on the first place but quality content. Focus on fans and followers is also very important. Nice tips that write content that is informative, interesting and engaging. Thanks for information.
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Jacob March 17, 2012 at 5:07 am

Definitely agree. Having content before diving in to social is a great idea. Also post evergreen content more than once is a great idea, i’ve never thought of. Also having a fan page to further engage your followers by asking questions on your wall.
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Yorinda March 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

Hi Steve,

I appreciate your discussion about which to focus on first content or followers.

You made some great arguments for and against both options and your conclusion of working on both from the beginning makes sense.
Hopefully the content will be interesting to the readers, so they want to come back for more.

Thank you for sharing this.
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danielle July 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I agree with the above. I cant believe when I get requests from people to ‘like’ their pages and theres nothing on there!!!

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Steve March 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

techne, Jacob, Yolanda – Thank you very much for the kind words. 🙂

P.S. I have no idea why my Gravatar isn’t working. Very odd! Sorry about that.
Steve recently posted..There’s More To Social Media Than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedInMy Profile

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Lynn Jones March 18, 2012 at 6:38 am

You have presented some valid points here, but when you get down to where the rubber meets the road……..be yourself, be authentic. Don’t worry about what the search engines will do with you content, don’t try too hard…..Just be YOU! Maybe that doesn’t fly with with SEO, but it is being more honest and I feel better about that in the long run.
Great post! Gets us to thinking!
Lynn
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Steve March 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Hi Lynn, a very good point and I agree completely, although there are still ways to be yourself and still optimise your content for search engines at the same time (without having to not be yourself).
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Lori J. Highby March 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Quality content should really be the driving factor to generating a good following in any avenue – social media, blogging, email, etc. If the information is valuable the audience will come. It may take time, but it really is the “If you build it, they will come” approach to quality content. Of course you need to do other things to help getting them there. So, I agree with your 70/30 approach to content/followers. Nice post!
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Doug Braddock May 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

Thank you, Kostas, for examining which is the best approach.
You certainly have explored both option very well and you are also pointing out the pros and cons, so the reader can weigh them up and decide what to do.

Your sentence “Ideally you should have something worthwhile to say, which makes you ‘followable,’ but building up momentum with a following should not be put on the back burner and neglected.” sums it up very well.
Doug Braddock recently posted..Award Winner in Hollywood Film FestivalMy Profile

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Patricia Gozlan July 19, 2012 at 12:28 am

Content and relationships go hand in hand in the same way that on line goes together with off line marketing.
I took me time to realize this, now I know.. Thanks for sharing this great article!
Patricia Gozlan recently posted..Could Every Day Be a New Beginning?My Profile

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