Facebook tracks a variety of metrics: Likes, Engagement, and Reach. Traditionally, Facebook marketing has been focused on garnering as many Likes as possible; the more Likes you have on a page, the greater the “fan growth”—at least, when you’re trying to defend your social media expenses. However, here are a number of reasons why the Like metric is an increasingly insignificant one:
- Many users who have Liked your page will never actually engage with the content.
- With Timeline, Facebook users who have not liked your page are still exposed to its content through friend activity.
One study by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, an Australia-based think tank, indicated that of the fans who Liked the page of a major brand, fewer than 1% actually interact with that brand’s page.
Acquiring 25,000 new likes in a month might sound impressive, but if only 250 of those fans are accessing the content – that is, looking at the Engagement metric – then the other 24,750 are of no import with regards to communication. Only direct interaction with a page’s content will spread that content to the user’s friends’ news feeds.
Even more important than the Engagement metric, in terms of measuring advertising success, is of course the Reach metric: the number of unique individuals who have seen a given post.
As with any form of print, television or radio advertising, the goal is not just to engage those who are already fans of the product – in this case, Facebook users who have already Liked the page – but also to attract a new fan base.
As any fan’s interaction with the page will show up in the Newsfeed and Tickets on their friends’ pages, posts or advertisements are reaching a much wider audience than the Like metric would indicate. Reach is thus a very valuable tool for measuring the success of any given ad campaign.
So, how can a savvy marketer increase fan engagement? A few suggestions below:
Humanize the brand:
Develop creative images for all the major holidays, wishing users a happy Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, or Christmas. These are broadly relevant topics that will also generate a lot of reposting – all with the brand’s imagery included, of course.
Make changes with existing content:
Switch the schedule of any routine posts; increase the frequency of one kind of post while decreasing the frequency of another. Experiment with targeting particular posts during working hours, on weekends, or holidays. Don’t post just to post—make sure that each post has relevant content.
Add photos or videos to posts that are generally text:
Experience shows that photos generate a much greater rate of interaction with users, so liven it up!
Encourage responses to each post:
Hold contests or polls, ask fans to caption pictures, respond to their reactions, and encourage them to share or repost if they like an image.
Obviously, as we measure the influence of reach and fan engagement as it relates to likes, acquiring new Facebook fans is still an important task. However, when measuring the impact of a Facebook-based marketing campaign, Engagement and Reach will continue to be more valuable evaluation tools than Likes.