Successful social media usage comes from not only the great content that is produced and shared, but understanding how your audience reacted, or sometime did not react. There is a tremendous amount of information thrown at a user when it comes to analytics. Some pieces of information are much more important than others. Consider the inverted pyramid to the left as our model when assessing not only the types of analytical data, but also assessing the importance of that data as it aligns with our goals and strategy.
The deeper you dive in to your analytics, the more specialized and important the data is to truly understanding and managing your social presence.
Level 1: Likes, Reach, Impressions, Followers
This is the surface level data. Essentially pure quantitative data, they are important to know, but they do not mean much now these days. Algorithms created by the different social media platforms put restrictions on the reach and impressions. You as a user can buy followers for different platforms that are nothing more than empty accounts just to make you look "good". And it does not take much for a user to like your content. It is literally a click of the mouse or a tap of the screen.
While they are not as important, they do set a foundation for our understanding of how our content is doing.
These three questions are the fundamental questions to managing your social presence. Without them, social media becomes a lot less social and a lot more of a digital diary.
Level 2: Comments and Shares
Taking a small dive down, the next most important piece of data are comments and shares. Shares are a quantitative data point. From the end users experience, it requires a little more of an intellectual investment. Whether done subconsciously or strategically, the user has to ask themselves, "Do I want others to know about this?" Shares are great and highly sought after as they help "beat" the algorithms and help get your content out there. They are also sometimes the hardest to attain. For Instagram, they do not exist, so it is a piece of data we can not use when measuring success.
Comments are both a quantitative and qualitative data. Much like shares, comments require more of an investment from the user. This time, they ask themselves, "Do I want to say something?" Comments provide insight into how your audience is thinking about your content. You are able to gather attributes like sentiment, whether they are thinking positive or negative about your content. You are able to provide better customer service do those that are seeking help or trying to push your buttons. Comments drive straight to the core purpose of social media: to be social.
Level 3: The Reaction
The deepest dive into our data, and this is where the true magic happens in social media management. Figuring out how your audience reacted to the content to help determine your next steps.
Allow me to get a little nerdy for a second with a quick formula to share with you. I developed it after doing a tremendous amount of research on the user experience and use of social media.
Reaction Score = (Likes + Comments*2 + Shares*2) * (Reach/Followers)
This Reaction Score is your engagement score compared to your reach score. For your engagement score, take into consideration the level of investment it takes the end user to do the action. Because there is a higher investment for comments and shares, an additional point is obtained.
With this base scoring, it will be important to create target ranges that align to the overall goals and strategy being developed. The recommendation is to track data for 2-3 weeks, then establish the following score ranges:
Below Average = Mean Score Minus 5 and below
Average Post = Mean Score plus or minus 5
Above Average Post = Mean Score plus 5 and above
"Viral" Posts = Above Mean Score + 20
What do I do with the score of a post?
With each score, there are actions you can consider taking as part of your overall social media management.
When a post does not do as well as we thought it did, it was not necessarily a bad post. We first have to assess what generated the low score. There are two main factors that can create this low reaction score: low engagement score, or low reach score. If the engagement was low, but the reach was average to above average, it may suggest that we do a second posting of the content, but change how we are presenting the content. We may ask for feedback directly, as a question related to the content, or tap into some other marketing strategy to try and raise the level of engagement, which would increase your reaction score.
When you have average to great engagement, but not a whole lot of people see the message, a reposting of the content at a different day or time is suggested. Consider looking at when your better posts are being published, and slide this content into that time slot. Knowing when your audience is online is a helpful benchmark for figuring out when to publish.
In the rare instance that both scores are low, follow both suggestions. If it still yields similar results, it may just mean your audience is not interested in that content or you are not meeting the platforms terms of service.
We are meeting our goals. You do not have to do anything if you do not want. If you want to do something, consider the suggestions when we have above average posts.
When we have above average scores, one of two main factors are in play: higher engagement scores, or higher reach scores. In either case, a repost of content is highly encourage. Reposting should be several days to several weeks later, but the important thing to note is that this is a great piece of content.
The other suggestion when working with above average posts is to create new content that is similar. Maybe the subject was interesting and the audience wants to know more about it? Being able to provide content that is not only meaningful to you, but meaningful to your audience is the dream for anyone managing a social media presence.
I use the term "viral" to describe those outlying data points where the engagement score and reach score where several deviations above the curve. The audience liked it, shared it, and engaged with it. With these posts, small ads campaigns to push the content outside of the network is highly encouraged. Facebook calls it a "boosted post" and it allows you to pay a small amount of money to let Facebook deliver the post to people outside of your network, but meet your specifications that you establish. Because your current network highly approved of your content, the chance for larger success is there. Boosted ads can generate new leads, new followers, and most importantly new engagements. Creating ads just to create them is not always a great idea, but taking something that resonated so well with your audience and using it to find the larger audience is highly encouraged.
Analyzing data can be a daunting task. Figuring out which numbers are important and why they are important can be challenging. This introduction is meant to help show which points of data are most important, what the data is telling you, and what your next steps can be as you manage your social media presence.