Why an engaged audience beats a big following

Why an engaged audience beats a big following

How social media engagement can beat a big following.

Sunday night’s Logie Awards were apparently the least watched ceremony since the current ratings system was implemented. Fitting, then, that media outlets have similarly expressed confusion that two underdog winners in particular took home gongs.

Grant Denyer’s Gold Logie win was considered a ‘shock’, not only because his Family Feud has been cancelled but because the field of people he was up against were perceived as being more popular.

Even more of a ‘shock’ was Most Popular New Talent winner Dilruk Jayasinha. Jayasinha, up against Bachelor alum Sam Frost and Matthew ‘Mattie J’ Johnson, was similarly considered the underdog.

And yet he — and Denyer — won. Why?

Engagement over numbers

Some news outlets have been confused that someone with fewer followers could have beaten others with many more. There’s a few reasons for this. However, the main one? ENGAGEMENT.

Dil’s fans were engaged to support him and vote in the Logies campaign. Having a smaller but committed fanbase always will win against pretty people with a million casual followers.

News.com.au said: “This year’s new talent Logie winner was decided by a public vote, making Jayasinha’s win even more miraculous given the fanbase of other nominees.”

But is it really?

The Murdoch-owned website took pains to point out that Dil won DESPITE only having 7000 Instagram followers, whereas Mattie J has 224,000 and released his own slickly produced campaign video.

But follower numbers only get you so far.

Dil has been on TV, yes, but he’s made his name largely on the standup circuit and other, smaller outlets such as Australian comedy podcasts (especially the Little Dum Dum Club, who have a massively mobilized audience).

The other performers in the ‘Best New Talent’ category were all primarily TV personalities. Their audiences are only as loyal as they are to the TV show they’re on.

Dil’s audience is used to having to do a bit of work to see him: going to a live comedy show, downloading a podcast. He interacts directly with his ‘small’ fanbase. He replies to comments, thanks people for their support and shows up to support his fellow comedians and performers.

With all due respect, Mattie J’s audience is used to just turning on the TV and seeing him. They’ve never had to work — maybe never even wanted to work — to find him. He’s just there.

Mobilise your audience

Your audience size only matters as much as you can motivate them to act.

Denyer had a story: axed show, underdog, a long losing streak (22 nominations without a win).

Dilruk also had the underdog story. He came to Australia from Sri Lanka as a teenager to become an accountant, later abandoning that for the much less-lucrative career path of comedy.

So story definitely helps  — and coupled with a rabidly motivated audience, they both had more on their side than it might have appeared.

Comedian Tom Gleeson had campaigned hard on behalf of Denyer, precisely because his show had been axed. As Junkee reported, “Gleeson’s campaign — #Denyer4Gold — clearly mobilised a large voting public.” But it’s more than that.

It might have started as a joke, but Gleeson gave people a reason to vote for Denyer. He engaged fans who might otherwise not bothered.

And Dil’s community of fans, boosted by weekly podcasts like the Little Dum Dum Club, made it a point to vote for him. The Little Dum Dum Club’s Facebook page and associated group fiercely campaigned for Dil, mobilising a group of people who wouldn’t usually bother to vote in the Logies.

(There’s also some speculation that the Logie voting form making you vote for all categories helped boost Denyer, who has also appeared on the podcast.)

Lesson for social media

All this is to say that, when it comes to social media, it’s not so much about the number of fans or followers you have. Sure, it’s nice to have half a million of them. But how many could you call on to vote for you?

Follower numbers don’t matter when you have an engaged audience. We are often reminding clients to focus on the reach and engagement levels rather than the raw numbers.

Sure, Logie voting numbers might have been down overall this year, but in a popularity contest, you need to activate your fans. They have to be motivated to get out the vote.

And if you can mobilise your audience to get them to vote, maybe you can even get them to click through to your online store and buy something. Now you’re using use social media to help drive sales.

And you didn’t need half a million followers to do it.

If you want help getting your followers engaged, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Pic credit: @dilrukj
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About The Author
Daniel Hedger Daniel Hedger is Head of Content at Hook Media.

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