Size will always matter. It is the most basic of metrics in social media. Want to know how popular you are? Check out how many followers and fans you have. But if your organization’s total reach is already big, what do those numbers mean? Where do you go from here?
Reach is not a measure of engagement. It is a raw score. In sports—except for golf—the person or team with the highest score always wins, but it isn’t necessarily true in social media. Your number of followers is just a ground floor indicator, if you will. Jason Falls calls it a vanity metric. But there are some good things to remember about vanity metrics (according to Falls): they indicate you’re doing some good things, they can give you a warning sign that something is broken, and they can scare your competition. Reach is the beginning of great things.
Auburn Athletics publishes the Social Media Top 25. It follows the fan numbers of schools on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It gives us a glimpse into the popularity of social media in college athletics. It’s fodder for bragging rights—“my dog’s bigger than your dog”. But the challenge now becomes what to do with those numbers. For instance, if I was Ohio State, who is at the top of the Facebook chart, I would want to know what that number of 1,347,387 followers means. Let me dig into this a little.
Measuring social media is a necessary challenge for community managers. Raw numbers don’t give us a good mirror of effectiveness, but they are one of the indicators. Even though most athletic directors would be satisfied with having one million Facebook followers, I would also want to know how engaged they are. When it comes to running effective social media campaigns, engagement is what we’re aiming for. To put it in business terms, we are looking for customer acquisitions. Reach is not acquisition—it’s only the beginning.
So what is next? My hope is that the social media managers of schools on the Auburn list (and others) know how to use those numbers to take their social media programs to the next level. Here are two other numbers you may want to look at to help you put reach in perspective. Also, I included a quick list of articles that lay out some basics on social media measurement and help make sense of what those metrics mean. Congratulations if you’re in the Top 25. What’s your next move?
How to calculate your potential reach (from Salesforce):
Potential Reach = Social Shares + Fans in your Network
Example: If you have 1,000 fans and followers, and together they have 90,000 followers, then you have a potential reach of 91,000.
Share of conversation:
Share of Conversation = Posts discussing topic and your brand / Posts discussing topic
If 50,000 of the 80,000 posts mentioning “college football top teams” also mentioned “Ohio State” or “Buckeyes”, then Ohio State’s share of conversation is 62.5%.
Helpful articles on social media measurement (and a couple books):
Five Reasons You Should Measure Social Media Return on Investment from Social Media Examiner
How to Measure Social Media – a comprehensive group of articles from Social Media Explorer
Five Simple Metrics to Track Your Social Media Efforts from Social Media Examiner
Measure What Matters by Katie D. Paine ( a little nerdy, but good)
How to Measure Social Media by Nicole Kelly (good step-by-step guide)