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Likes, Followers and Connections are some of the most visible metrics for social media outreach. What do these numbers mean? I just read that Frito-Lay has set the Guinness Record for getting the most number of Likes in a 24 hour period. The company ran promotional campaigns and had live cooking demonstrations on their Facebook page to reach the new record of  1,571,161. Impressive numbers for a 24-hour effort!

This news of the record intrigued me and the style of the campaign is also interesting from a marketing stand point. In some ways it raises the same kind of questions which come up when I see project postings in some of the freelancing sites asking for “500 followers in a month” or “1000 likes in a week.” While these goals seem positively modest now compared to Frito-Lay, the idea of generating numbers seems to be central to many social media campaigns.

Image courtesy of Wine and Bowties

I feel a word of caution is warranted here. It is about more than the numbers. It is about the connections. I can understand the Frito-Lay effort as a part of their overall brand awareness strategy and as a targeted use of Facebook. But for smaller businesses and non-profits, just showing a big number of fans and followers is meaningless without pertinent customer or client engagement. If you are a small business owner figuring out social media, your focus should be on attracting, engaging and retaining your core group of loyal clients. It is great to have outreach to connect with new people but make sure the numbers are backed by actual interest in your product or service. Numbers are great fun and it is neat to have these benchmarks but you know what they say – don’t miss the forest for the trees!

But because numbers are such fun I had to add this tidbit – As of today April 28th 2011 Texas Hold’em Poker (Zynga) has the most number of Facebook fans with a count of 36,230,968 according the wonderful folks at Guinness!