Success in the digital age

SUCCESS METRICS: Reaching the 500k follower milestone on social media.
photo courtesy Keron Rose -
SUCCESS METRICS: Reaching the 500k follower milestone on social media. photo courtesy Keron Rose -

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, the metrics by which we measure success are shifting beneath our feet.

Gone are the days when the number of followers was the ultimate badge of digital prowess.

Today, the rules of engagement have changed, with a deeper, more meaningful connection to content and community taking precedence over mere numbers.

This article delves into five key reasons why followers no longer reign supreme in the social media hierarchy.

From the rise of social SEO and the importance of direct messaging to the newfound value of shares and the imperative of genuine action over superficial engagement, we explore how these platforms are recalibrating what it means to truly succeed in the digital age.

Let’s unpack these modern social media metrics and break down what it means for creators, brands and users alike.

Social SEO and search intent

Social media platforms have evolved into powerful search engines, with users increasingly turning to them for information and shopping decisions.

Content that answers questions and provides value can remain relevant and appear in search results indefinitely, making engagement more important than the sheer number of followers.

This is why social media platforms have been focusing on getting better at search, so that those who prefer to find answers to the questions they seek and have an easier time doing so.

Preference for longer video content

As platforms increase their maximum video lengths and user behaviour shifts towards seeking more in-depth information, content creators need to produce longer videos that engage viewers with quality content. This change reflects a broader trend, in which the value of content is measured by its ability to retain viewer attention over time rather than simply by the number of followers.


The social media algorithms have focused less on followers and more on whether the people who see your content are engaging.

This is why people with small followings can go viral more than ever. Engagement is measured by the watch time, drop-off points, sharing and saving.

Shift towards DMs for engagement

Engagement is moving away from public feeds to direct messages (DMs), reflecting a preference for more private, personalised interactions.

This shift challenges traditional metrics like follower counts, as meaningful engagement occurs in less visible spaces.

Caribbean businesses have been notorious for not answering their DMs on a timely basis, and this needs to change if you want to build personal connections with your audience and potential customers.

Value of shares over likes or comments

Shares have become a more important metric than likes, comments or followers because they indicate that content is valuable enough to be passed along, affecting reach and engagement more significantly. When you learn how to create content worth sharing and saving, you will realise more that this content looks very different from what you would post for views and likes.

Honesty, transparency and taking action

In the context of social media activism and brand communication, users value honesty, transparency and concrete actions over performative support.

Brands that align their actions with their messaging and take clear stands on issues can build deeper trust and engagement with their audience, irrespective of their follower count.

We have seen a lot of businesses in TT start doubling down on shock marketing and trying to hop on every pop culture trend possible. Many of them have crossed the lines from witty and funny to just downright tacky and distasteful.

These are brands focused on trying to build followers and go viral for views, but you don’t want to sacrifice trust in your brand just to get more followers.

More of the marketing coming out of TT looks as if brands no longer care about their consumers but are just trying to go viral to prop up vanity metrics like followers and likes.

It could also be that marketing teams are being pressured by managers and business owners to “make them viral”: again, once you are chasing followers and likes, you tend to create the type of content that won’t stand the test of time, and lose people in the process.

Businesses need to focus more on being a brand/business of value rather than trying to be social media-famous if they want to succeed in 2024.

Keron Rose is a digital strategist who works with businesses to build their digital presence and monetise their platforms.

Learn more at or listen to the Digipreneur FM podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify, or Google podcasts.


"Success in the digital age"

More in this section