Evaluating a campaign’s success purely by the volume of fans acquired can be misleading. Marketers who relied too heavily on this success metric in the past are beginning to realize certain setbacks in their social footprints:

1)      Their fan base consists of people less relevant/interested in their brand;

2)      Audience churn begins to exceed the rate of retention and acquisition.

Acquiring lower-quality fans has consequences. A comparison between two Fortune 100 financial services companies reveals how one brand is losing fans:

fan growth facebook

To an extent, these problems naturally occur as your brands’ content intersects a wide variety of users across your audiences’ social networks. However, when these activities happen at a disproportional rate versus the amount of quality engagement with your audience, there is a disconnect that needs to be addressed.

Today, we’ve reached a crossroads in social marketing, where campaigns must be designed and evaluated with both quantitative and qualitative metrics. On Facebook alone, there are three different forms of engagement – liking, commenting, and sharing – where each of these actions reflect user interaction on the network, and provide varying degrees of insight into the sentiment that exists between a user and a brand.

Determining Quality Engagement

Analyzing the different types of interaction can help a marketer understand the success of their content and social marketing. Although ‘likes’ can potentially be misleading if measured in isolation, they can be very useful in helping you understand your brand’s growth and awareness.

Combining this information with other interactions like ‘comments’ and ‘shares’ will give you a better indication of your content’s success.  At Optimal, these forms of interactions are sometimes weighted differently when calculating engagement rate because a ‘share’ is more involved interaction than a ‘like’.

example of facebook engagement

Not all engagement is good engagement.

Beyond these metrics, marketers should qualitatively review the nature of their users’ engagement (as in the example above):

– Do the users engaging with your content resemble your target audience profile from a Geographic or Demographic standpoint?

– Do their comments indicate they may aspire to be customers down the road?

If your answers are no, you must address your content because you are engaging with the wrong audience. With Facebook’s evolution into a content destination, content creators must find ways to deliver on relevance.

Curating Content

Having a well-rounded understanding of your target audience is essential for catering to their unique interests and online behavior. Strategically identifying information that resonates with your audience’s passion-points enables marketers to deliver content in a more engaging form—ultimately speaking to their specific needs and interests.

facebook like ecosystem

One way to accomplish this is to analyze the interests most similar to your brand-related terms. For example, this visualization of interests shared by users who are interested in “McDonalds” on Facebook (pulled from our Optimal Explorer analytics tool) reveals a number of topics that extend beyond the food-and-beverage industry. This information opens to the door for a number of potential themes that may resonate with McDonald’s audience.

In the visualization of interests, it is interesting to see competitors like Wendy’s and KFC listed as well – which highlights another key point:  benchmarking your performance against a competitor’s over time is a great way to understand whether your content is performing. If your competitors are consistently driving stronger engagement, you may want to analyze their content and learn what is helping them connect with their users.

facebook engagement

Tracking engagement over time helps you analyze your content strategy performance versus your competitor’s.

By evaluating your success metrics, analyzing your audience’s interest, and tracking your competitor’s social engagement, you will be able to design better content and increase the effectiveness of your future social campaigns.

To get started on analyzing your own audiences and competitor’s engagement, set up your own free brand tracking report provided by Optimal Analytics. With this tool, users can track engagement and receive weekly reports for a group of brands like J. Crew’s competitors.

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Daniel Ho
is the Senior Director of Marketing for Optimal Inc. Prior to joining Optimal, Daniel worked for Initiative Media as a digital account director. Daniel holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and a MBA from UCLA Anderson. In his spare time, he trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and makes beer.