The Quantity vs Quality Debate Revisited | Personal Branding Blog - Dan Schawbel

In the past six months, my view on quantity versus quality when it comes to fans, followers, and customers has drastically changed. I’ve written before on the perception of having a large network, and how that will help you secure new opportunities. Chad Levitt, has also penned a post on this blog about the quality and quantity of blog posts. An example of quality blog posts are one’s written by Time Ferriss, who blogs once a month, but has each post be meaningful, unique, and demanding attention. Then you have AOL, where they care less about quality and more about publishing thousands of articles in order to flood the public with AOL branding, back-links and high search engine standing.

Quantity opens doors, but quality opens wallets.

Quantity opens doors

To the majority of the world, numbers matter. People love to measure results and quality by using numbers. If you ask any blogger, they would love having one hundred thousand subscribers, instead of one hundred. If you wanted to interview Paris Hilton and told her PR agent that you have a mere five blog subscribers, they would ignore your email. Now, if you called back in six years with a figure of two million, they would not only respond, but you could get on the phone with her within a few weeks. That is the true power in quantity. It convinces other people that you have social proof, reach, and value to provide. If you have a large enough audience, you make it worthwhile for others to work for you, even for free.

  • Brand association: It’s much easier to promote and partner with other brands, when you’re seen as someone of higher value. Every successful person on earth is looking for more visibility, it’s in our DNA. To become ultra successful you need brand awareness, and if you can prove your value, then people are more inclined to work with you and your emails will be answered.
  • Brand perception: About four months ago, I walked into a social event in the Boston area, and as I entered, the event host said “Dan Schawbel, 70,000 Twitter followers right”? We live in a world where people will judge you based on how popular you already are or seem to be. If you have a low number of followers, you are immediately seen as inferior relative to people who have amassed a large following.
  • Brand extension: When you have a significant platform, you can extend it into new, complementary, areas with less effort. If you’re a national media source, this could mean to localize your content. I extended the brand of this blog by creating the Student Branding Blog.
  • Brand leverage: As your platform grows, you gain more leverage, and can open new opportunities easier. Opportunities include book and syndication deals, as well as the ability to interview celebrities.

Quality opens wallets

If you have a large platform that doesn’t mean you’re influential at all. You could have a million followers, but if no one replies to you, retweets you, comments on your blog, purchases your products, or emails you, then you aren’t getting much out of it. The internet world is transitioning from a place of mass communication, to a one-to-one conversations. This means that if you aren’t meeting people individually, you won’t achieve great business results.

  • Brand influence: A lot of marketers measure influence through engagement. Influence can be measured by how many influential people link to your blog, how many people retweet your content, how many blog comments you get, how many people (Facebook) like your content, and (Google) Buzz it. Most engagement these days happens outside of your blog, so it can be challenging to keep track of reactions.
  • Brand power: When people are truly listening to what you have to say and are acting upon it, you have power. “Power” allows you to make a big impact on people’s lives.
  • Brand monetization: If people are opting in to listen to what you have to say, and you’re influencing their decisions, they will purchase from you. Someone can make ten times more money having fewer, high paying customers, than more low paying customers.
  • Brand evangelism: Quality contacts are the one’s that are going to spread your messages. When people really care about what you have to say, they are more inclined to tell a friend, blog about it, tweet it, and get other people to purchase from you.


We all need to review how we’ve been connecting and promoting ourselves online. Quality is becoming more valuable than quantity over time, both in terms of the content you produce and the size of your platform. This is especially true in business if you’re looking to make money. In order to be successful in 2010 and beyond, you’re going to have to form one-to-one relationships instead of blasting out messages to the world.

Your turn

Are you investing more time in building a large follower base or a smaller, but higher quality, follower base?

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