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The obsession over social media shares – is quality or quantity better?

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Quality over quantity?

We’ve all heard some iteration of the phrase, “it’s the quality, not the quantity, that truly matters.” But do you really believe it?

As far as measurement is concerned, you absolutely should. Let’s consider two examples that I’ve been stewing over lately: frequency and number of social shares and the surge in traffic from StumbleUpon.

Campaigns and brands tend to have very distinct goals when jumping into social media, but one objective is often universal. Driving engagement among consumers is likely tantamount to anything else. Whether that means garnering comments on a Facebook page or retweets of an official Twitter account, engagement is the often a holy grail.

An obsession with numbers

When measuring content sharing like retweets or Facebook shares, it’s easy to fixate on big numbers. Getting a ton of shares or retweets is always better than fewer, right? Not necessarily.

All things being equal, you absolutely want more shares to help spread your content and messages further. Would you rather publish one piece of content per week that receives 500 shares or publish four pieces of content that receive 200 shares each?

I would choose the latter for a couple reasons. Most obviously, while each individual piece of content is garnering fewer shares, overall I’m seeing more shares per week (800). More importantly, though, I’m driving consistent engagement.

One hit wonders

If you publish content controversial or entertaining enough, you can likely drive a large number of shares once. But if you’re using social media, your goal is likely to build engagement and form a community. One-hit wonders won’t help you do that, but delivering content on a regular basis that your community wants to share time and again? That’s more like it.

It’s really not much different than television commercials in the sense that I may be more likely to recall a hilarious commercial I saw during the Super Bowl last year, but I’m more likely to buy a product from a company I see consistently.

Example: StumbleUpon

Now let’s look at StumbleUpon. A few months ago, everyone seemed to be talking about how StumbleUpon was driving a great deal of traffic to their website. Suddenly it seemed like StumbleUpon was the largest referrer of traffic for just about everybody. And the next thing you know, everyone was blogging about how to optimize for StumbleUpon and make it work even better for your site.

It turns out that while StumbleUpon really is driving a great deal of traffic to many, many websites and blogs, the quality of that traffic is extremely questionable. Bloggers began to report that visitors from StumbleUpon bounced more and spent less time on site than others.

The ultimate temptation

It’s tempting to assume that getting 1,000 visitors each day is far better than getting only 100. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have those 100 folks come to my blog, poke around, read a few posts and maybe leave a comment. Seeing 1,000 visitors come and immediately leave is really no better than seeing those same 100 come and immediately leave. It’s just more people who apparently don’t find value from your site.

Trust me, we all get wowed by big numbers. It’s too easy to do these days. The next time you’re shaking your head because something seems too good to be true, add some context. Try to consider additional details to understand if that giant number is really telling you something great.

Rebecca is a passionate UNC graduate, and a biochemist-turned-communications professional, she spends her days as a senior social media analyst at Digitas in Chicago, specialized social media monitoring and measurement best practices. She is continually excited to explore additional facets of digital measurement like traditional Web analytics, search metrics and integrated data models.

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Aaron Friedman

    October 27, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Awesome post Rebecca! Everything you have said is spot on. And to add once small thing to complement what you are saying, more often than not, having that consistent engagement will drive more traffic and likely more shares to the other pieces. This is especially true if they are properly linked together, reference the other posts or are part of a series.

    So in the short term you come out on top because, well, the shares are of a higher caliber. But as time goes on, you end up having more shares reaching a more niche audience. But even more than that, you will hopefully see continued shares resulting weeks later.

    Aaron Friedman
    @aaronfriedman

  2. Musangu Mbato

    May 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Let us get rich now with Millions of Dollars, contact me form more details: mbatomusangu@yahoo.co.za

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Social Media

How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.

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Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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Social Media

You’re tired of Twitter because you’re no longer their average demographic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter was once a gathering place for industry professionals, but if you’re finding yourself drifting away, you’re not alone – the average demographic has changed. A lot.

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Each major social media platform has a tendency to draw a particular demographic, giving each individual platform a distinct tinge or feel. However, research shows that the demographics of Twitter may make it the most unique and youthful social media platform yet.

Perhaps the most notable aspect that sets Twitter apart is its content generation. While Twitter has approximately 126 million daily users, only around 10 percent of those users tweet with any reliable frequency. Surprisingly, that 10 percent user base is responsible for curating around 80 percent of the content on Twitter, giving a shockingly small group of people control over the bulk of Twitter’s output.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time on Twitter probably won’t find this revelation entirely illuminating; after all, most of what you see on Twitter generally looks like a slightly different iteration of something that someone else said on Twitter. Even so, the significance of such a large percentage of Twitter’s content coming from such a small group cannot be discounted.

In another shake-up, Twitter users as a collective also tend to be younger than other social media users.

Again, you’ll usually see this openly reflected in both the tone and persuasion of the content posted there, but the objective youthfulness of Twitter does explain some of the criticism levied toward its users by other social media aficionados.

While these two main points seem relatively benign, not everyone agrees with Twitter’s eclectic nature. Twitter’s distinguishing factors have led some, to label it as a “collective hallucination” of a platform, meaning that its demographic data, content themes, and aggregate of information all combine to create a different picture of America than is actually correct; naturally, the democratic-leaning persuasion of Twitter doesn’t help correct this assumption.

But what sticks out to some publications as a pipe dream of a demographic is, in fact, fairly accurate to America’s example insofar as race and gender ratio is concerned — even though Twitter may not embody the politically diverse “melting pot” of America’s government or emulate its education statistics.

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Social Media

Big backlash after woman tries to shame McD worker for napping

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This might be my favorite story of the year – a woman calls out a napping employee, and the community rejects her tweet, then rallies behind the employee to help improve his life.

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mcdonald's employee shamed for napping

Social media originated as a form of communication to stay in touch with people that you don’t see every day. From there, it blossomed into a community of idea-sharing and a source for news.

As social media grew more popular, the dark side began to rear its ugly head and people began using it as a method of attacking people from behind their keyboards. So much of social media has become negative that it’s hard to want to stay active.

Such was the case when a woman in Fayette County, Georgia shared a photo of a McDonald’s worker asleep in the booth. She posted the photo to social media in haste, in an attempt to shame the McDonald’s location for not doing anything about the employee’s behavior.

What she didn’t realize was that the employee – Simon Childs – was homeless and was simply resting between shifts.

The 21-year old father recently fell into hard times after his mother passed away, and found himself without a residence, but with a job at McDonald’s. When he found out about what the woman posted, Childs was disappointed by her actions.

“It kind of hurt to see my picture up there, you know,” he told WSB in Atlanta. “I thought it was something negative and nobody would care about it.”

The woman’s photo received a lot of attention on social media, but not in the way that she had intended. Local community members near Childs learned of his story and rejected the shaming. They began donating items to help with his child. Others donated hotel rooms, while a local restauranteur loaned Childs his car.

The nameless woman who posted the photo reportedly claims that she didn’t intend to shame Childs, especially since the image was only posted to a private group. However, we all know that it only takes one screenshot to make something “private” known to the whole entire world.

This shows us a few timeless lessons: Nothing on social media or the Internet is private, karma works in mysterious ways, and never make assumptions about anyone as you never know what is going on in their world.

That’s my morals and values lesson for the day. Class dismissed.

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