Calling all brands: stop counting Facebook “likes” and build deeper engagement instead

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When it comes to Facebook, marketers often think that hitting 10,000, 50,000 or more than 1 million likes is the only metric for measuring the success of a Facebook page.

Perhaps this is because the “like” button is a metric that’s comparable to traditional mass media metrics. Magazines and papers sell advertising rates based on their circulation volume and TV companies still sell a 30 second ad spot related to viewing figures (the more viewers, the  higher the cost of the spot).

So ROI from social media, particularly Facebook, is easy to get your head around if you think of it in this mass media context.

Except it isn’t as simple as this.

While there’s nothing wrong with measuring the number of Facebook likes, social media is about more than just getting mass market attention; it should be used to build real engagement. Marketers need to stop focusing on volume and “likes” and should start looking at the quality or influence levels of the people they are interacting with.

Look at these Facebook pages for Pepto Bismol or Red Bull - each uses a somewhat awkward arrow to point out the like button (as if the average Facebook user doesn’t know where the like button is). Very little thought has gone in to what to do with these people once they have “liked” the page or whether the likes represent any sort of positive influence with the brand.

Marketers need to remember that when it comes to social media, numbers alone do not equal engagement  - only activity equals engagement. So perhaps what should be measured is an action demonstrating engagement, such as quality of feedback per post or number of comments posted.

Influence comes from connecting to those individuals who make up your target audience, and over time, developing and nurturing that relationship. Marketers should worry less about how many people they are connected to and should start thinking more about who they are connected to and how their brand can positively add value to that individual’s life.

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14 Comments

  1. Jon Stokes:

    Thanks for the post Simon. It reminds me of Andrew Blakeley’s recent project where he spent a week liking any brand that asked him to - he ended up with 46 in the end!

    Tumblr detailing each “like”:
    http://findusonfacebook.tumblr.com/
    Article and summary:
    http://www.imperica.com/viewsreviews/finding-facebook/

  2. Michael Le Couteur:

    Hi Simon
    As a relative newcomer to the Social Media world I find all new material extremely interesting - your comment on “the numbers game” and Facebook is very pertinent - thanks.
    Am in the process of learning about Blogs - any tips??
    Kind regards
    Michael Le Couteur

  3. Annie:

    I agree it’s the work that comes after that matters, but you have to grow an audience to engage with. Likes get you on their radar.

  4. Mat Morrison:

    It’s worth noting that Facebook has its own specific definition of engagement as it applies to EdgeRank. Since EdgeRank controls the percentage of your audience that is exposed to your brand posts (what tend to be called “earned impressions”), it’s extraordinarily important to keep Facebook’s definition in mind if one wants to optimise one’s FB presence.

    At a glance, the engagement on Red Bull’s brand posts is shockingly poor. The same for Wispa.

    I tend to disagree with the sentiment that “numbers alone do not equal engagement” - although I’m sure from what you say that you don’t mean that “engagement can’t be measured”, there’s a wishy washy tendency in the Social Media industry that claims that each campaign must be measured independently, and on its own merits. This sort of relativism can only hold our industry back.

    At Starcom MediaVest Group, we’ve been working with our analytics practice to develop a toolkit that allows us to assess the value of engagement across multiple Social Media properties; and to identify the individual contributions of paid, owned and earned media.

    In the meantime, and as a rough guide to assessing engagement, one can do worse than work out the average high engagement activities (comments on brand posts) for the past 14 days. Best thing about this method? One can benchmark your performance against the rest of your category.

    Hope this is useful.

  5. Sam Michel:

    How do I ‘like’ Mat’s comment?!

    I agree about the mix of engagement and volume. Engagement is great but without a critical mass, you’ve only got an echo chamber. And the overall volume drives visibility, which with the right content will drive engagement.

  6. denise lee yohn:

    amen! quality of engagement is a better measure of brand strength than quantity of followers - and it can be fostered with an integrated approach to cultivating customer relationships — here are thoughts on the topic at: http://www.franchise-update.com/article/1369/ — denise lee yohn

  7. Sarah Pusey:

    I absolutely agree! Although the “like” button establishes’ your brand, it only measures the first time someone visits the site/post. A brand needs to nurture its Facebook community, include something exciting to keep them coming back!
    One of the most successful ways of doing this is running a contest. For example, I recently participated in the Easter Fashion Hunter competition by ASOS. The prize was a 100 pound gift voucher with them. Providing your consumers with an incentive, encourages them them to continue viewing your page.
    Another good way to engage your Facebook community is to invite them to offline events. You can measure your success by the sheer amount of people that turn up.

  8. If Facebook Comments Are Gold, Here’s How To Dig For More | Social Media Explorer:

    [...] Calling all brands: stop counting Facebook “likes” and build deeper engagement instead (freshnetworks.com) [...]

  9. If Facebook Comments Are Gold, Here’s How To Dig For More | NexGen SEM:

    [...] Calling all brands: stop counting Facebook “likes” and build deeper engagement instead (freshnetworks.com) [...]

  10. DesignSuccessU:

    I agree, the likes button helps to know how friends likes your post in facebook because it can help too to encourage to continue using on it.

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  11. cheap Nike shox:

    i really love this tool , facebook! and how friends likes your post in facebook because it can help too to encourage to continue using on it.

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