Quality vs. Quantity in Social Media

Is Less Better than More?

We can learn a lot from Volkswagen when it comes to social media, and I’m not talking about taking a look at their social media platforms to discover best practices.

No doubt, by now you’ve heard about the beleaguered car maker’s diesel emissions scandal, by which the company was caught installing software in its diesel-powered products that would cheat emissions tests in countries around the globe.

It was a big “oops” for VW; in its race to become the largest carmaker in the world, chasing sales numbers and doing whatever they could to beat Toyota, VW cut corners, lied to consumers and got caught. No Bueno.

Recently, in preparation for releasing its “Growth Plan 2025,” newly-appointed VW CEO Matthias Mueller has announced the company will be “abandoning its quest to be the world’s biggest manufacturer” and will instead focus on “qualitative growth.”

Often in social media, we see a race for page growth, the most “likes” on an Instagram photo, having the most Twitter followers, etc. Companies will run ad campaigns and throw countless dollars to boost Facebook page likes, essentially buying their fans — “fans” that may be employed by so-called “click farms” that have no actual interest in what that particular page is trying to promote or sell.

But what’s the point of having 10,000 Facebook fans if none of them actually care about you, your company or its posts? Certainly, if you’re in the business of providing a service, potential customers will look at your social properties and see how many people “like you.” Most will then make a judgement based on that number, without any insight on the quality of these fans or the work your company actually does.

There have been countless articles written on the topic, like this one from The Guardian in 2013, which is worth a read. However, the recent admission by VW and it’s reversal of strategy is a great reminder that sometimes, numbers don’t mean everything, and aren’t always what they seem.