On Social Media, Quality Trumps Quantity

Posted on August 4, 2011

Managing Editor of Independent Lens Brooke Shelby Biggs explains how to measure and maintain quality followers on social media.


When you’re just starting out in social media, your focus is going to be on garnering as many fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter as you can. There are tried-and-true ways of accomplishing this, the most effective being (assuming you have a small marketing budget) using Facebook advertising, openly asking fans to share your posts, retweeting others and asking them to retweet you, and holding contests.

Estimates vary widely on what a “critical mass” of fans/followers constitutes: Some say a sweet spot of 2,500 Facebook fans begets a community that grows itself organically. A community of 200 Twitter followers will grow on its own, provided you maintain best practices in your Twitter activity. These numbers may be different depending on the size of your likely target audience. 

Once you have a nice level of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, now what? Well, now you need to begin focusing on the quality of your social media audience. You may not be a retail business, but you still have a product to sell. You need brand awareness, you need positive sentiment, and you need conversions, be they tune-ins, station pledges, DVD sales, festival ticket sales, etc. In short, the numbers you are after add up to engagement. Of your, say, 5,000 Facebook fans, how many regularly interact with the content you post? How many like, comment, or share? Tracking this data is how you can measure what is working and what isn’t. Here are some quick and easy tools to help you measure engagement. 

1. Facebook Insights: Facebook’s own analytics tool is not as sophisticated as it ought to be, but it does the trick for rough overview. In the upper right column on your page you’ll see the Insights icon and link. When you click, you’ll get an overview of your page’s statistics for the previous month. The data under “interactions” is where the qualitative information lives. You can see how many impressions each of your posts received, as well as the engagement rate. Experiment with various types of post content (photos, video, questions) and different post times (morning, mid-day, evening) to find the most effective combinations. 

2. AllFacebookStats: The free version of this analytics tool is handy in benchmarking your Facebook performance against similar brands. See how you measure up, and then borrow from competitors’ strategies that work. 

3. Tweetmeme: Tweetmeme analytics monitors retweet data, tweet locations, referring domains, influential users, and user stats. 

4. Klout: Klout uses Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to show you how you rate compared to others in your sphere, and is very useful in identifying your followers who are influencers, and therefore most likely to help make your content viral. 

5. Hootsuite: Although I am personally opposed to scheduling social media posts and automated cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, HootSuite has a robust analytics back-end that can be useful in pulling out instructive data on effective approaches and influential followers. Do you have a social media analytics strategy that works for you? Share your wisdom with us in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter. 

Read Brooke’s previous entry on how to geo-target messages on updates on Facebook

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