The more followers, the better - except when brands find that they have many connections who aren't engaged at all.

Creating an effective content marketing strategy often means carefully cultivating the proper social following. B2B companies, for example, will generally be more successful if they target LinkedIn users instead of Snapchat loyalists. But even within individual networks, different kinds of behavior are going to change the way a brand comes across to its own followers as well as new leads.

As Brafton reported, a recent social study found 44 percent of Twitter accounts have never actually tweeted. That isn’t an indication of the platform’s marketing utility – after all, people still manage to send at least half a billion Tweets every day – but it does prove followers aren’t created equal,  and it isn’t all about the total number of followers a business has. Instead, it’s about cultivating loyal and sustainable social connections through valuable content and high engagement.

Men tend to be disPinterested in sticking around

In the same vein, brands won’t necessarily be successful on every channel, even if they share great content. The audience matters just as much. A study by RJMetrics broke down user behavior, particularly by gender and over time. The data shows that while men and women Pin at relatively similar rates when they first start out (about 45 for women in the first year and roughly 35 for men during the same span), their participation quickly tails off.

By the second year as Pinterest users, 85 percent of women are still activley Pinning, while men drop off to 60 percent. By year four, 84 percent of women still Pin, but only 50 percent of men do. And the women who stick around don’t just maintain their previous levels of engagement – they actually become more active on Pinterest.

Social followers are marketing capital

Like a company might invest in software or new products, brands should invest in online views. Web marketing is about finding ideal consumers and creating campaigns that keep them engaged and informed. So if a business believes it can narrow down its intended audience to people on one network, it stands to reason there is an even more ideal group within that network.

This is yet another example of how important it is to avoid spreading a marketing message too thin. An online retailer might find Pinterest is a great way to promote products across the web, but total follower numbers shouldn’t be taken as proof of success. Engagement and overall commitment to a brand on the internet is how companies should measure their efforts.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.