Numbers Don’t Matter, Influence Does

The importance that people and brands place on follower counts or the impressions their content receives is grossly overvalued. I can’t say numbers don’t matter, but the value everyone places on these numbers needs to be reconsidered.There is just too much emphasis on the width of engagement—how many potential connections they make—rather than the depth of those interactions which, in my eyes, is far more important.


The entire marketing world is blinded by the notion that more impressions always correlates to a successful piece of content (the sad part is, most of them don’t care about the business outcomes). For example, you might hear somebody say “500,000 people saw my YouTube pre-roll ad!” But, the truth is that they likely didn’t. What probably happened was that as soon as the ad started, the “viewer” clicked away to another tab or did something else until it was over. Or looked at their phone…. So even though they didn’t pay attention, the analytics still show that they saw it.

Not only can an impression count be misleading, but it may not even reflect a positive consumer engagement. There are companies I will never buy from again because their pop-up ads annoyed me so much—you know, the ones that havehundreds of extra “clickthroughs” because someone accidentally clicked on it 8 times because the “close window” icon was too small. While those extra clicks look like engagement, they were only expressions of frustration with the brand. That context gets lost when we are playing in a world that treats impressions as a be-all, end-all.


The same misconception can be applied to follower counts: they only matter if the audience actually cares and actively consumes your content. Followers can be absolutely everything or absolutely nothing.

Let’s say you have 20,000 followers on Instagram and 12,000 of them buy ten copies of your book because you posted about it. That type of conversion means you have an engaged audience consuming your content. That’s valuable.

On the other hand, let’s say you have 200,000 purchased fans. When you post something and it gets zero engagement, those followers have zero value because (1) they either don’t care about your content or (2) they’re not real. Either way, your follower count does not represent their real value to you.

Even the thought that a low number of followers can be considered “irrelevant” makes no sense to me. You can have 10, 10,000, or 1,000,000 followers and all it takes is for one post to be noticed by one person to cause a social media chain reaction. The absolute number does not matter. One retweet, one repost, one link in an email is enough to get the ball rolling.


Instead of talking about how many people see your content, we need to be focusing on how much value that piece of content actually brings your audience. For a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled to click an ad or watch a video, it comes down to caring about your audience’s attention. And in order for you to win, they really need to consume it. That’s the game.

In terms of organic reach, the #1 platform in the world right now is Instagram (even with the new algorithm). If you have 297 followers on Instagram, 150 of them are actually going to consume your posts. On the reverse side, someone with 3,000 followers on Twitter would not command nearly as much attention due to Twitter’s noise problem. For any platform, you need to understand the context of how your followers are consuming. Once you do that, you can reverse engineer how you can go deep to connect with that consumer and how that “impression” translates into actual interest.

For my newest book release, I sent free advance copies to over 1,000 Instagram influencers and asked them to post a substantial longform review with a photo. Not on Amazon, not on Twitter, not on their blog, but Instagram. Why? Because I day trade attention and I understood that this tactic was going to command the most amount of awareness.

Snapchat also has great organic reach right now. It’s the reason why I’ve been so excited for custom Snapchat filters and Story takeovers. When someone is using a filter or watching a Story, they have intent and you can be sure they’re paying attention. Remember, it’s about depth, not width. It’s not how many you reach, it’s how many you connect with.

Bottom line: I don’t care how many people see something, “I care about how many people see something.” Quality over quantity. Depth over width. Reach does not equal value and follower count doesn’t mean people are listening. We need to stop focusing on optimizing the number of views and instead concentrate on making each one of those viewers care about your brand. Because, at the end of the day, that’s the only way you’ll drive results to your end goal.

This article was originally published at

Carolina Color learns lessons from failures

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CHICAGO — Carolina Color Corp. embraces its failures as much as its successes.


As CEO of the Salisbury, N.C.-based and family-owned company, Matt Barr sees value in the firm’s missteps because they ultimately help lead to victories.

“We look at every failure as a lesson learned in terms of the journey to success,” Barr said at Pack Expo in Chicago. “You’re not going to have a straight line 100 percent of the time to get from A to Z and have a home run.

“You strike out a few times. You celebrate it and you move on,” he said.

Just look at the company’s G2 line that features high loads of pigments when compared with typical colorants, the CEO said.

Six years after receiving a patent for G2, the pelletized product has taken the company to new heights. That wasn’t always the case.

“It was a disaster,” Barr said about an earlier incarnation of the concept. “We stumbled two or three times in how do we get this stuff commercial.”

The company even ditched a previous manufacturing process after realizing it just was not going to produce the needed results.

“It wasn’t the home run we thought it would be,” Barr said. “We learned something from that process.”

But that was then, and this is now.

“We’ve almost doubled the size of the business in the last five or six years on the strength of this product in the marketplace,” Barr said.

Customers like using G2 because they buy less material and save money compared to previous formulations. Carolina Color likes G2 because the company is producing fewer pounds at a higher price while freeing up manufacturing capacity in the process, he said.

“It’s been a tremendous growth engine for our business. It allows our customers to save money, which is pivotal. They’re using less product, so there’s space available in their warehouses. It’s easy to use. It’s basically a plug-and-play product,” he said.

“You don’t have to change your set-ups a ton to utilize the technology. You don’t have to buy new equipment to utilize it,” he said.

Based on the success of G2, the company is on the verge of introducing the next generation of colorants that will pack even more pigment punch starting early next year. Carolina Color operates plants in Salisbury and Delaware, Ohio.

The company employs about 105 workers these days, down from the 140 or so that were on the payroll before a plant in Lancaster, Texas, closed in 2008. That facility was shuttered when the company no longer needed as much capacity after developing the G2 product.

Employment dipped to about 85 or 90 back then before increasing in recent years.

“We have grown through the Great Recession. Our employment numbers have been steady and increasing over the last six years, which is kind of unique in this industry,” Barr said.

Carolina Color looked to innovation after realizing that it couldn’t and really shouldn’t try to compete on a commoditized level with companies that are much larger.

“We really are not going to be the largest player in the industry. So in order to grow, we couldn’t compete exclusively on price like some of the big players,” Barr said.

“Small companies can innovate sometimes a lot better than the larger companies. We spend a lot of money on it. We fail miserably sometimes and are wildly successful other times. And we celebrate the missteps as well as the successes,” the CEO said. “It’s a fun place to be because of that.”

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