In the digital marketing industry there is so much emphasis on the high numbers that it’s easy to forget what those numbers are measuring. So your follower count is off the charts and the number of impressions you’re getting is way up. You’re putting a ton of work and money into your online advertising or social media campaign and its doing well, right? Or maybe not.

Those impression numbers can be deceptive.

They could be hiding a deeper story. The number of impressions doesn’t necessarily equate with engagement and eyeballs don’t equate with views. Nor does it indicate a positive engagement. How many times have you been frustrated by ads popping up onscreen as you tried to view a piece of content? Or how many times have you clicked on an ad by mistake while trying to close it?

When programmatic advertising arrived in 2010 marketers were euphoric. At last PPC ads could be targeted to their chosen demographic. A 35 yr. old reading an article about off-roading could have his browsing history tracked, analyzed by software and sold off to advertisers who could now place ads about their latest 4WD beside the article he’s reading. But over the years the proliferation of display ads has diluted their effectiveness and now some of the biggest selling apps are ad blockers. The other problem is that in the digital world you’re paying for the ad to be served, but that doesn’t always mean a human will see it. Fake traffic has become a commodity and it’s even possible to buy it.

Why your social media count is not telling you the full story.

When people judge the success of their social media they generally look to numbers of followers. The bigger the number the greater the perceived success. It’s great to have a ton of followers on Facebook or Twitter. It does wonders for your vanity. But is it achieving what you intended it to?

How come I have all these followers and no one visits my site? No one ever responds to my posts!

If you’re counting your followers and not getting the results you hoped for then maybe you’re looking at the wrong numbers. But just as high numbers don’t mean success; low numbers of followers don’t make them irrelevant. What really counts is engagement, and that means interaction. If users are clicking on links, commenting on posts and responding then you know you’re being effective.

If you want a number to measure that really matters then look at reach.

Reach is how many individual people actually see your content. You want this number to increase because it exposes you to new customers and if you want to increase reach then increase engagement. Instagram is the number one platform right now in terms of organic reach, and I’ve written in a previous article where influencer marketing can help you build your audience.

Engagement is the way to increase reach.

It’s the old story but still as relevant as ever –content is king. Creating conversations, getting people to respond and share because they feel that you’re providing them with something of value, that you care about them and not just there to sell them something.  If you’re still stuck in the mode of just putting empty content out there for the sake of making noise then don’t be surprised if those high numbers and high expectations turn out to be just smoke.