Audience Size Doesn't Matter

Published 4 months ago • 5 min read

Imagine having 1M followers – numbers fill the screen, but interactions are fleeting, like a crowded street with strangers passing by. Now turn the corner and picture a thriving community, a close-knit gathering of passionate advocates, where every member’s voice resonates, like at a neighborhood café where friends gather, share stories, and lift each other up.

I’ve experienced both. I will choose (and build) quality over quantity – every time.

Getting lost in metrics is easy, but true success goes beyond numbers. It’s about fostering thriving communities that stand up for your brand, mission, and values. Communities are where connections thrive and are the lifeblood of any brand’s online presence.

Note: I’m saying ‘brand,’ but it’s true for individuals, products, services, causes, organizations, etc.

Loyal advocates who are genuinely interested in your brand beyond your products or services are your community – not the number of followers.

Your free word of mouth marketing force makes your social job exciting and incredibly fulfilling. I’ve built communities for brands of all sizes, and the most rewarding are always the brands that aren’t household, globally recognized names.

The communities I’ve built were not the result of a big budget or brand recognition. It’s not about advertising and sales. It’s about making it easy for people to join your community, ensuring that engaging is worthwhile, and making it easy for them to share with others.

Selfishly, I want a thriving community for my clients because it makes my job a lot more fun. Would you be excited or at least neutral to hop on social for your band, or do you prefer having to fight to convince yourself to get on and do community management? I’ve done both; give me the fun one.

“If you build it, they will come.” – but not really.

Show up where your community is online. If you really want to be on X, but your community isn’t there, you don’t need to be there.

Normally, I’d say a pork brand doesn’t need to be on X, but you need to be there when you’re the official hot dog of the Phillies. I spent years building Hatfield’s communities (RIP), which were very different:

Facebook: Boomers who spend their free time there and write strange comments on posts of brands they like, kind of 🤣

Instagram: Millennials and Gen X who are at-home cooks, recipe bloggers, and the average American pork consumer who loves a good recipe, the scenes, and communication with a brand they’ve enjoyed their whole life

Twitter: Gen Z through Boomers who love Hatfield Meats and baseball.

I uncovered a community on Twitter they had no idea they had - which makes no sense, but if you’re not actively listening, you’ll miss it.

From live tweeting Phillies games (go Padres) with hundreds of our followers to setting up an entire experience at the Hatfield HQ for our #1 fan (dubbed Hot Dog Hero) and his friends to shoot THE hot dog launcher. To this day, I still get snaps of his dog Coco

enjoying Hatfield. I haven’t worked on the brand in years.



Who are they? Where are they? What are their preferences, values, and interests? What kind of content do they like? How do they consume it, and when? Look beyond your brand; what else are they doing online? You’re a grain of sand in their day.

The best data doesn’t come from a tool or stalking your community online. ASK THEM. I’ve done countless video chats one-on-one with consumers and even large groups. I’ve gone as far as sharing private Pinterest boards with select members of our community and having them pin anything they see, search, or like to that board. THEY LOVE DOING IT.

You’re welcome for that; let me know where to send my invoice for that intel 😉

Surprise + Delight

Recognizing and rewarding community members is one of the best parts of the job. From inviting them to a test kitchen to launch the MLB hot dog launcher featuring them in your content or sending free products – the options are endless.

Instead of talking about what I’ve done for others, here’s how Arby’s surprise + delighted me:

This is how many found out it (the sauce) was hitting shelves.

Advertising campaigns can boost brand awareness and short-term sales. Creating a community is crucial for sustainable growth.

What’s the Value?

Communities provide valuable insights for companies to understand their customer base, prevent customer churn, and learn about market trends. I get operational insights, content feedback, snack bar preferences, and more for Little League.

Your community:

• Promotes engagement and brings users closer to your brand

• Increases brand visibility

• Attracts potential customers

• Creates a welcoming environment

• Fosters brand affinity and loyalty

• Inspires and encourages other members

• Attract followers, resulting in higher retention rates

How Do I Measure My Community?


Not everything needs to be a metric! When you have a thriving community, the metrics become less important. It’s not about the numbers but the connections and the relationships that form. It’s about the people who share their love for the brand or cause.

You should always be adding to your advocate directory – an appendix of your monthly report or a standalone (preferred) database with your community. I’ve listed anything from birthdays to preferences, favorites, whatever from the brand/product, who they mention or chat with the most within our space, etc. Why pay for all these audience development services when they’re right in front of you, and you can talk to them for free?

If your community stops showing up, then you need to pause, research, and reevaluate – have you been growing with them? Why has turned them off? I bet they’ve told you why. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to this, but that’s on you/the brand to manage the community.

Do you want to see a nonprofit community show up? Check out what our "rival" Little League did this weekend - we spent all day there with their community: video by Blake.

What do I post?

Remember, it’s not about you. Sure, your space is for your product/service, but it’s not a promotional space; people don’t choose to open social media to be sold to. The answer to this question lies in your strategy.

Your community can read you well. Be authentic. Show up. Listen. Engage.

A few weeks ago, our Little League had tryouts, so I filmed it and made a recap for our community to see and share. It's not Blake-quality, but it doesn't matter - it's about what I showcased. The video is here.

What do you need?

Help with your freelance business? Social strategy? Skincare? Send me an invite between 10a-2p PST, any M-F, with a compelling title and description, and I will accept if I am available. Chelsea@SocialOcean.Marketing



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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 15+ years of creating bespoke social media strategies and building thriving communities for 150+ clients and 25+ agency partners. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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