The old adage states that it is not what you know, but who you know, that makes all the difference in career success. That phrase applies to personal branding in many ways, including social media followings. The quality of the profiles associated with your business or name say a lot about who you are and where you stand in your industry.

Social media is often put on a pedestal, especially for small business owners. While it is true that more consumers are looking to social media platforms to find the businesses they want to frequent, a rise in the number of fans and followers does not always translate into a rise in your bottom line. There are some ways that ill-conceived social media attempts can hurt you and return less-than-impressive results. As you move forward with social media campaigns, remember more than numbers matter.

Realize There is No Value in Randomness

Adding more digits to your follower and fan grand total does not automatically translate into more business or paying customers. Having a follower or fan that has no vested interest in your product or services is an empty accomplishment. Instead of random people associated with your brand, target those followers who are likely clients or will strengthen your credibility. When you are first building a social media audience, you may want to ask followers on your personal profiles to “like” or “follow” you just to get a base number and encourage others to hop on board. At some point, however, you have to refocus your efforts and target followers that are not just interested in you as a person, but in what your business offers too.  If you don’t, you may hurt your business through association so make sure you’re careful who you friend and make rules that work for your business.

Encourage Interaction

The Facebook formula for who sees what, and when, is called EdgeRank. There are a lot of complicated numbers that go into this simple truth about EdgeRank: the more a user interacts with you, the more that user sees your updates. So a person that adds you but never likes a status or comments on a photo or graphic is one that eventually stops seeing your updates altogether. Once again, a number with no meaning is dead weight, pulling down the effectiveness of your profiles. Capture the attention of your audience with interesting prompts, or informative third-party links, to ensure that your following will continue to see what you say and find you relevant.

Pick Followers to Build Credibility

Every follower and fan is not created equal. This is especially true in the Twitter-verse. When you have a follower that has his or her own set of strong followers in your industry or niche, your Tweets have much greater potential for translation into better business. Use tools like Social Mention to find people that are talking about your industry and then follow them. You may also want to visit the Twitter pages of your competitors to see who they have on their lists, especially if there are some clients you would like to make your own.

Never be content to let social media momentum move forward on its own; it is vital that you come up with ways to target and engage the right followers for your business. Improve the quality of your social media associations and you will ultimately improve the quantity of business.