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Are social media 'followers'​ a measure of value?

Social media seems to work really well if your target market is within the general population – gender specific, age groups, buying power. Once you start targeting more specific and less mainstream markets, you find that the rules don’t really apply. If you have a niche market, it gets harder. If you are targeting a niche within a niche, you’re screwed. But you won’t know that until you’ve spent hours, days and months on social media platforms, trying to get the formula right.

We were not aiming for a Kim Kardashian type following. However we have been told, 'if you don’t have that magic number of followers, sponsors and investors won’t even consider you'. For Across Rainbows, the sponsors are key to some of our business strategys' success. Hence, our persistence. Fair or not, that’s how it is.

We did it all, including

  • Following the guidelines

  • Signing up for the online courses that promise to show how to get thousands of followers on Insta and FB. In a very short time

  • Religiously writing relatable posts, videos and blogs

  • We connected. We liked other posts. We commented

  • The one thing we did not do is buy followers. That’s just wrong

Yet, we were (and are still) not rocking social media. Our posts get ‘likes’ but they don’t convert to followers. But we persisted. I wish I could say the persistence has started paying off. So far it hasn’t.

But there is a very good reason for that. LGBTQ+ is a niche market, plus we are dealing with mental health within the community. Even nicher. We thought that was the problem. But then we realised that while our social media campaigns are tanking, subscribers to the website are on the up. You see, many of the people in our target audience are not in a position (for various reasons) to follow Across Rainbows publicly on social media. Some are afraid of that their work/colleagues/families find out. Some live in countries where it is illegal to come out, to be openly gay, lesbian, trans, bi. Some are questioning. Some live in fear. The reasons are many. Suddenly it made sense why we do not have, or ever will have, that magic number of followers.

Across Rainbows does not have much social capital but it does have a lot of value. Maybe it’s time for sponsors and investors to stop measuring a company’s value based on the number of followers they have. Maybe it’s time for them to look at the impact a company makes on the community rather than only measuring success on the social media reach.


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