What’s the point of businesses courting the social media?
What do they hope to achieve by having a social media presence? How should businesses increase their levels of engagement with their customers? If you were to ask those questions to most enterprises, there’s every likelihood that the answers they would give you would be as follows: firstly everybody else is doing it, so we have to, secondly it’s the only way to increase customer engagement levels and lastly the best way to increase engagement is by getting more and more likes.
It’s all sounds perfectly feasible, but the truth of the matter is that these answers aren’t strictly correct.
A study by Napkin Labs has discovered that the opposite is in fact true: it doesn’t really matter how large and popular your business Facebook page is, apparently only 6% of ‘fans’ on average will interact with the content you post. So, it appears in the world of social media, more can actually be less. At the end of the day social engagement has nothing to do with popularity: it has more to do with the workings of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.
Napkin Labs, a social hub that builds applications experiences on Facebook which help companies uncover the creativity and passion of their fans, looked at the social media activity of 52 different Facebook pages across a wide range of different industries and sectors. The pages had fan bases ranging from 200,000 to 1 million, so not your average small enterprise then. In total the aggregated fan-base of these pages was 31 million. What Napkin Lab discovered was that even though a brand’s fan count may increases as more and more people ‘like’ the page, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the levels of customer engagement will also increase at the same time. In fact Napkin discovered that the opposite can in fact be true.
They found that a Facebook page with 500,000 to 600,000 ‘likes’ actually had 60 percent more engagement on average than pages with 900,000 to a million likes. What businesses should concentrate their efforts on in Napkin’s opinion, is identifying the so-called ‘super-fans’, as these individuals were found to be 75 times more likely to engage than ordinary fans. In fact the super-fans were found to 2.3 times more likely to ‘like’ a page, and 1.8 times more likely to comment on content that’s posted.
So what’s going on here?
Why don’t likes lead to greater engagement? Well, as mentioned earlier, the major culprit is probably EdgeRank. Facebook uses EdgeRank to determine what appears in their users’ news feeds. Why is it so significant? Well, the news feed is Facebook’s ‘killer application’. It determines not only which of your connections is the most important to you, meaning their content appears most frequently, but also which kinds of content should appear higher than others. The major problem is that EdgeRank also makes it difficult for business to compete on the channel as is clearly demonstrated by the Napkin Labs study.
So what can businesses do to overcome this problem? How can they compete on Facebook and build higher levels of customer engagement? Well, they are the $64,000 questions. The only thing that is clear is that any business which wants to improve its levels of engagement will have to work a lot harder to reach and connect with a larger number of their fans. Getting the like is the easy part, retaining interest and loyalty is much harder. You could obviously go down the road of promoted tweets, but they are expensive.
It’s much better to roll up your sleeves and give your fans what they want: if businesses can do that then they’ll find that more will no longer mean less.