We all spend a lot of time on social media and this can be a problem both for us as individuals and businesses. When we first start using social media we have an idea what we want to achieve. If it is for personal use these may not be written down or formalised in any way but we do have an idea why we are using it. Or at least we should do to make sure we are as productive as we can be. Companies will have clear objectives for communication including that on social media. So where does the problem arise?
In evaluating and measuring our use of social media we are too often measuring the wrong things. It is frustrating to see people still focusing on the number of followers that an account has. To start with we have seen issues where people have bought numbers of followers to look successful, or they have been followed by automated bots. Measuring those numbers can show nothing of significance on its own.
We have to become more sophisticated in our measurement of social media. To start with do we know who is following us? Do we know who they are and what they may be following us for? And for businesses do we know who is not following and can we then find ways to connect with them?
At the heart of social media evaluation has to be the engagement that is achieved. For businesses the levels of interaction and conversation that are gained have to be the key, alongside encouraging people to try the product or service. If we have a high number of followers but a low level of interaction then we are fixed in a broadcast mode. However, if we have a high level of interaction but a low number of followers it may be more successful as we are really hitting our target audience.
My optician is on social media. It is a small independent shop and on social media has a smaller number of followers than for example Specsavers does. However, what they are doing is targeting those people around them and with a high level of interaction will convert the conversation to sales. If we are just looking at followers then they will never be seen to succeed and that is why we have to take a more intelligent look at evaluation.
With any measurement we have to clearly understand what the objectives were or are, and what we wanted to achieve before we undertake any evaluation. If we can’t get this right as professional communicators then we will never be able to get bosses to understand.