Apologies for the rambling nature of this post – I wrote it to try and sort out my thoughts on this subject, and rewrote several parts as I went along. I hope it still makes some level of sense!
In my last blog post, I talked about getting more into the statistics for social media at work, because all of our output is now digital. However, I’ve begun to realise that the numbers don’t really tell you what you think they do – if there’s no context.
Many people will tell you that the number of people who see a tweet (reach), don’t count for much. Plenty of people will see a tweet while scrolling through their newsfeed and not care about it at all. So, you’d assume that it’s engagement that means something – likes, comments, retweets. To quote this article by SproutSocial: ‘Engagement is easily one of the most important social media metrics any company can track… A quick glance at your engagement rate should be enough to tell you whether your efforts are successful or not.’
One thing I’ve experienced in work accounts is that you get a group of supporters who engage with you on a very high level. They retweet everything, reply to everything. Very often they are heavily connected to your organisation. The problem is, if they’re retweeting – could that be said to be artificially increasing your numbers?
To return to that SproutSocial article ‘While likes are a sign that your customers appreciate what you have to say, a retweet shows that your followers really value your input.’ However, if you have people who are retweeting/liking your post, and they are doing it completely sincerely, but they are going to do that to your tweets regardless of content, what is the value there?
This feels like a really tricky situation, and I haven’t yet figured out how to resolve it. Perhaps that’s because I feel that people invest a lot into their social media accounts, so placing a ‘value’ on someone’s account seems – offensive? However, on a business level, you need to know if your brand, messaging and content is penetrating beyond an immediate social content.
So, this actually brings us back to reach. If you assume that some level of your reach is always due to your regular retweeters, because they are showing them to the same audience of their own followers, by going through your analytics to see which individual posts have higher reach levels, you can then find out if this came from an unexpected account. Again, the actual raw number of reach doesn’t count, so thinking on through this as I write, the number that counts is the reach above average level. So, that’s something to get working out?