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Social Media Quality over Quantity

Posted on 1.06.2013

Benefiting from Standardized Actual Engagement

When it comes to social media, Internet marketers have stressed the importance of quality over quantity for a long time. While the rationale has always made sense, there was never much hard data to support the claims. 

Lately, research has emerged that focuses on how the quality of a brand’s social engagement affects the success of a social media marketing strategy. A new report from enterprise email marketing software and solutions provider Yesmail for example gets to the heart of what makes up “quality” engagement on social networking sites by examining twenty socially active retailers in relation to the size of their audience.

The company conducted the study using a practice known as standardized actual engagement to balance out the (sometimes immense) variances in the social following size (e.g. Facebook fans or Twitter followers) of the brand’s being studied.

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better
Yesmail’s VP of Channel Strategy, Matt Gault, likes to point out that social media marketers should not strategize in a vacuum, and although it is important to test and tweak one’s own campaign, it is also beneficial to see what the competitors are up to and what works for them.

The problem with this is that success in social media is often measured by sheer volume, meaning the amount of engagement (likes, comments, retweets, etc.) a brand boasts. But this is a misleading way to look at things, because when one brand has a larger following than another, they will regularly see more user interaction just by nature of their size; that does not mean that their content is more engaging.

Truly great social brands that foster quality user engagement may go overlooked for the mere fact that they are smaller than their competitors. This is where standardized actual engagement comes in and helps control for brand sizes to see how good they actually are at engaging its fans and followers compared to the competition. “Thanks to a standardized engagement score, we can now compare apples to apples,” Yesmail says in the report.

This adjustment opens up a world of opportunities for marketers, who can now more accurately assess the effectiveness of their digital tactics, identify their competitors with the best social strategies for engagement and use that information to improve their own work.

The Results are In
Upon viewing the results of Yesmail’s report, it’s clear that just because a brand sees more engagement, it isn’t necessarily useful.

For instance, out of the twenty brands Yesmail studied, Ralph Lauren and H&M had by far the highest engagement numbers on Facebook, but when the results were standardized and adjusted for size differences, they came in fourth and eleventh in terms of quality, respectively. On the flipside, Eddie Bauer was dead last in volume, but in terms of actual engagement, it was third. In other words, Eddie Bauer quantitatively proved to have more effective social media strategies than its much larger counterparts.

This is particularly useful to social media marketers, because for them to accurately assess (and learn from) the best strategies of their direct competitors, they need to adjust the engagement figures to more accurately reflect how many fans and followers are engaging with a brand in relation to its social reach.

And they can also rest assured that while it may seem like they’re bigger competitors are more successful because of their large followings, it’s not necessarily the case. In fact, using standardized actual engagement, social media marketers may find out they’re doing better than they thought.

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