For too long, when brands have looked at their social media strategy they have been obsessed over their Facebook fan numbers or likes. This is in part to prove their investment is worthwhile to their management teams or boards. The other component to the equation is that of bragging rights. I have sat in many meetings as an independent and heard many organisations talking Facebook and Instagram likes, albeit (I hope) by the way of banter, but it still adds weight to the value brands place on this as a measure of success.
The key to social media success isn’t how many people like your page or posts. A better success measure is how entrenched your social media activity becomes in your audiences every day life. That may be through sharing, return visits, recommending or generating conversation. For me social media can offer so much to both customers and brands, in fact the media half of the term is a little bit of a red herring. Social Media is another digital channel, just as websites were when the web first gained momentum.
Of course, it isn’t just likes people talk about. A large number of brands will still obsessing over the number of fans, followers, friends or likers they have, now understand that they need people to interact. With this in mind, they have started to measure what they deem engagement. The standard ways most brands look at engagement is how many times a pic on Instagram has been liked. How many retweets their post has had or how many shares their Facebook post has received. All of which is interesting, but in essence, its not really engagement. How many of us have personally, or have observed people just double tapping the insta post, without really reading or viewing the content properly.
For me, engagement isn’t even just about the buzz or sentiment we measure. It is about the genuine affinity our customers or social crowd feel towards us and/or their likelihood to recommend us. This really can’t be measured through standard social metrics. However, if we really do have a highly engaged Facebook page (for instance) then it goes without saying these people should eulogise about us, at least our content and hopefully also our brand. With this in mind, our followings should increase on an organic basis. So engagement in isolation isn’t enough.
However the crux of all of this text is, we need to start thinking beyond the numbers. We need to care about them as we are targeted on them and often its what investment decisions are made of. But, we as profession, Marketing Professionals are increasingly worried about making marketing decisions without reams of data to support us.
Some things we need to do to help us grow, to accelerate growth is to make decisions that have no or little data. If we only look back at data on what has happened, or compare ourselves to the success or failures of our peers we are instantly constraining our thinking and our ability to innovate.
If you as marketing people know your audience well enough, you should succeed. If you as marketing professionals speak to your audience, they can help you succeed. If you as marketing professionals allow your audience to collaborate with you and help produce content, you will get what they want and they feel bought in. In theory that should bring even more success and a feeling from content providers they are part of your brand.
Remember one key thing for your social channels. Be credible.
Produce content that your audience will want to see. Engage and communicate with your audience to understand what they want. Work with your audience and they can help you produce what they want. With this in mind, I think we can look beyond the numbers of social media and produce better content, have better engagement and ultimately drive the numbers after all.
Love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to challenge, critique argue or endorse by adding comments here or by tweeting my @richclarkmktg