Friday, December 9, 2011

Look Who's Talking: Facebook Engagement

Facebook recently began disclosing several key metrics on Facebook Pages to assist Page owners at-a-glance in assessing the success of their Facebook efforts and to assist visitors to the Page in determining how useful others have found the site in the past week.  These metrics are disclosed along the left side of the Page (they, along with other metrics, are also found on the Insights page).

The first metric indicates how many users Like the page.  Traditional Facebook marketing theory states that the bigger this number, the better.  That is why so many social media consultants go on about tactics to increase "Likes" as if he with the most Likes wins.  While I agree that all things being equal, more Likes is better than less Likes, I also believe that it's not the quantity of the Likes but rather the quality of the likes that will make a Facebook effort successful.

Social media is about social engagement.  Social engagement does not occur unless the Facebook effort provides value.  As such, it does not matter how many Likes a page has if the content is not engaging.  Without valuable content the community will ignore the page resulting in a wasted effort to attract the community.  In other words, a Page with 100,000 Likes that was created through some effective marketing effort will not help the bank if none of the 100,000 users visit the Page on a regular basis.


In order to evaluate the effectiveness of a Page's community, Facebook provides the number of users that have "talked about" the Page in the past seven days.  This "talking about" statistic is fairly meaningful as it states the number of users that have engaged with the Page (e.g., brand) in some form.  Activity that is included in the Talking About statistic includes users that:


  • "Liked" the page
  • "Liked," commented on, or shared a Page post
  • Answered a Question on the Page
  • Responded to an Event 
  • Mentioned the Page
  • Tagged the Page in a photo
  • Checked in or recommended the Page location
In the examples below you see two sets of data taken from two banks - one small bank and one mid-size bank.


The bank on the left has only 409 Likes and the bank on the right has over 2,500% more at 10,850 Likes.  A natural conclusion based on the Like data may be that the mid-size bank has created a more valuable Facebook asset.  However, a review of the "talking about this" number suggests that while the mid-size bank has more likes, the absolute number of users that have engaged with the bank is identical.  As such, either the mid-size bank has a bunch of uninterested followers or the small bank has an active bunch of followers.

So why is having as many users talking about the bank so critical? Well, it is the active and engaged users that are most likely to support and evangelize for the bank.  These active users will tap into their social networks and inform their friends and acquaintances of the reasons why they should support the bank.  In addition,  new visitors to a Facebook page can look at these two metrics to understand how popular, active and engaging the Page is and as a result, whether it is one that they wish to follow.  Losing out on an opportunity to engage new users results in a loss of not only that user but of that user's social network.



While banks should seek as many Likes as possible, they should also examine the number and percentage of followers that are engaging with the bank.  If too few are engaging then the bank is not providing adequate content.  This may result from too infrequent posts, too many "salesy" posts, too frequent posts, uninteresting posts, etc.  It should be the job of the Facebook admin(s) to analyze the data to figure out how to best convert the nonengaged users into engaged users.  Once users become engaged then their networks may also become engaged, and at that point the Facebook page may provide significant value.  However, until engagement occurs, the Facebook page becomes that question about whether a tree falling in the woods makes any noise:  if a Facebook page with tons of users creates no engagement does it provide value?  Very little.

2 comments:

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