All you can eat buffets, massive SUVs, 5000 square foot houses for a family of four — for many people, especially those of us in America, we assume that bigger and more is better. But when it comes to attracting and nurturing a following for your brand, whether it’s content or even just general market share, what all too often happens in the pursuit of quantity of traffic and leads and attention is the sacrifice of quality of the relationships a brand is able to have with customers and fans. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any brand is setting out to give up on engendering loyalty and deepening relationships with their audience and their customers, but when we get drawn in by the allure of a huge number of page views or branching out into ever-widening markets, all too often the natural, if unfortunate, outgrowth is that we can lose sight of whether or not that broadening of approach is resulting in anything more than that big number that we’re attracted to. So is a bigger audience better? In many cases, not really.

Quantity is a great place to start, but quality should be your end goal

Unless you’re specifically making money off page views and that’s your ultimate focus, just raw page views or unique visitors isn’t going to translate into the business results you want. Engagement and a degree of attachment to your brand is what’s going to drive tangible, long lasting results that are going to grow your business and, let’s be bluntly honest here, keep you employed. Joe Pulizzi, whose work in content marketing you’re probably familiar with already (and if you’re not, put his work on your to-do list), recently had the following to say:

A growing number of websites, including BuzzFeed and Upworthy, claim to have over 100 million unique visitors. [The] key for content marketers isn’t building a ginormous, ho-hum audience, but rather the right, engaged audience that will help you grow your business.

The “gigantic, ho-hum audience” is exactly what to fear if raw page views, unique visitors, Twitter followers, or Facebook likes alone become how you measure success with your content, social media, or other brand building activities, but you don’t have to let those big, flashy numbers lure you off-course.

How to avoid getting caught up in “more is better”

Measure the right things – We’ve talked about this before, but it bears frequent repeating. Unique visitors, raw page views, Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or similarly measures probably just aren’t going to cut it if you’re trying to develop a loyalty to and awareness of your brand that leads to ongoing sales. Look at things like time spent on site, pages viewed per visit, actual comments and shares on social media (not just likes or follows), and use a social listening tool and a smart social media team to really track what people are saying about your brand and your products. If a million people go to your website, that’s great, but what good does it do you if only a thousand out of that million stay on your site for more than a minute? What if only five hundred look at more than two pages on your site? What if only two hundred actually comment or share something or otherwise specifically engage? The million no longer matters, because it’s not the number that really tells the story.

Avoid keeping up with the Joneses – Your competitors may have more unique views, or even a larger market share, but that doesn’t have to be something you lose sleep over. Apple did amazingly well with an incredibly small share of the personal computer market, even before iPhones and iPads took over, and it was because that small segment spent more money, both per purchase and over their lifetime, because they were incredibly loyal. Loyalty trumps market share in cases like this. It’s okay to have a specific niche if you engage with and serve that niche incredibly well, because their loyalty and their dedication to sharing your products with others and becoming self-selected, volunteer promoters for your brand will generate consistent, reliable business in ways that blanketing the entire population to try and acquire customers simply won’t.

Keep your focus on your target market, and don’t be afraid to narrow it down – Don’t get caught up in what the opinions of people who you really aren’t trying to get as customers are anyway. You can’t be rude or dismissive to anyone without potential problems, of course, but the opinion of your existing customers, the opinion of the specific niche you’re trying to serve, and how loyal they are to your brand is far more important than what the general population may think. And this works both ways! If the general population’s opinion of you increases but your core customers’ decreases, this could spell trouble. Your most loyal customers can break you if they feel that they’ve been wronged or disrespected just as fast as they can make you when they’re happy.

Set goals based on improvement, not competition – It’s easy to get caught up in battling with a competitor or an established brand that you look up to, but it’s a recipe for frustration and an easy way to be led astray. Look at your own performance, in whatever specific areas the business has decided it would like to improve, implement improvement plans and then watch for progress, and focus on how you could better embody and fulfill your company or brand mission. This isn’t to say that you can’t have big, long-range goals to, for instance, eventually outsell or otherwise outperform the market leader in your industry, but if you spend every month of the five year plan to make that happen comparing yourself to the big, established guy you’re chasing, you’ll be nothing but disappointed for far too long, and can far too easily lose sight of a way that you could be doing something different and better than your competitor.

We’ve all seen companies go from small, niche companies to hugely successful global giants, and of course that’s what most every business wants to achieve some day. But if you really look at the companies that have done it successfully, it’s been by staying true to who they are, what they want to do, and who they serve, and not losing sight of that even as they grow. What’s your favorite niche market to global leader success story? Share with us in the comments, and thanks for reading!