Quality Over Quantity When Counting Online Engagement

October 31, 2011

Confession of a digital consultant: I don’t write comments on Facebook fan pages. Sure, I push the Like button when I am interested in news, videos, offers, etc. But, beyond that, I don’t engage with brands on Facebook. Of course, ironically, a big part of my job is to help brands get people to engage with them online; but so far, I was missing the self-reflection on this subject. Until now. . .

My colleague, Adi Rosenthal from our Berlin office, recently shared with the Ketchum Global Digital Network a post claiming to list the Top 10 PR agencies pages on Facebook based on the quality of each PR firm’s content and engagement strategy on Facebook. To get straight to the point: Ketchum failed to make the cut. Quite surprised, I decided to dig deeper. The question really comes down to which numbers count.

Recently, Facebook launched its new “talking about this” stat, which sits on every Facebook page just under the total number of likes. This new metric counts “stories” — meaning anything that is “eligible to appear in a user’s news feed” — posts on a pages wall, page likes, RSVPing to an event, sharing pages posts, photos or any other type of content, to name a few. “Talking about this” is a strong indicator about the quality of content posted on a Facebook page, so I started to compare our numbers with those of other agencies on this metric, and the result was very interesting.

While Ketchum isn’t in the top 10 of the aforementioned list, it ranks much higher on fan engagement than agencies who find themselves on the top 10 list. For example, another large agency has nearly 10,000 more fans than Ketchum, but we have considerably more “talking” about this. That puts our engagement ratio at .18% while several others don’t break .1%.

Of course, as obsessed as we all are with social media, we must remember that it’s still a relatively new space, and industry best practices for measuring effectiveness remain as yet unsettled. From our perspective, it’s not complicated. We counsel our clients that in order to forger deeper, more lasting relationships with consumers – to earn engagement across the social Web – focus on the quality, creativity and value of our content more than the sheer volume of posts. It’s high-quality content that drives conversation, and it’s conversation – people “talking about this” – that we seek.

Sure, numbers count. But let’s be sure to focus on the right numbers and keep our attention on engagement.