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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

Facebook’s Résumé takes another shot at LinkedIn

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook took another swipe at LinkedIn by introducing a new Résumé feature.

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Any job hunter is likely familiar with the little section somewhere during the application process where you’re asked to enter in social media information. Thankfully, Facebook is usually an optional field.

While I try to keep what the public can see of my social media profiles toned down enough as to not cause my grandmother to blush, I’m still not quite comfortable sharing my profile with prospective employers.

I’m sure many out there feel the same, and Facebook knows this.

Tinfoil hat theories aside, LinkedIn may be shaking in their boots as Facebook begins to advance their growth in the professional sector in their pursuit of social media domination.

Facebook has begun experimenting with a new Résumé/CV feature that works as an extension of your standard “Work and Education” section on a Facebook profile page, allowing users to share work experience in more detail with friends and family but most importantly: potential employers.

Luckily, the new Résumé/CV feature won’t be sharing personal photos or status updates, but will rather combine all the relevant information into a single, professional-looking package.

So far this feature appears to be rolled out to a small number of users, and it’s unclear when it will be officially launched, but this isn’t the first time Facebook has dipped their toes in the waters of the job sector, or took a jab at LinkedIn.

Several months ago, Jobs was launched, a feature that allows Business Pages to post job openings through the status composer, and keep track of them on their Page’s Jobs tab.

A Facebook spokesperson commented on the intent behind the new Résumé/CV feature, “At Facebook, we’re always building and testing new products and services.

We’re currently testing a work histories feature to continue to help people find and businesses hire for jobs on Facebook,” and so this is just the beginning of Facebook’s plan to become a one-stop-shop and create a more seamless way for people to find and get jobs.

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Tag photos, connect with friends, order food?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seems to be sprawling into every nook and cranny of life and now, they’re infiltrating food delivery.

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food delivery facebook

Facebook is now bringing you food! Although, no one was really asking them to.

In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook is attempting to transform into more than just a social media platform. They have partnered up with food delivery services to help users order food directly from their site.

They hope to streamline the process by giving users a chance to research, get recommendations and order food without ever leaving the site.

Facebook has partnered with their existing delivery services including EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow and Olo in addition to restaurants to fast track the process.

The scenario they imagine is that while scrolling through the newsfeed, users would feel an urge to eat and look to Facebook for their options.

After chatting up friends via Facebook Messenger to ask for the best place to go, users would visit the restaurant’s page directly, explore their menu and decide to order. When ordering, you will have the option to use one of the partnered delivery services either with an existing account or by creating a new one.

The benefit is you stay on one site the entire time. With the time you save, the food can get to you faster, which is a plus for everyone.

Assuming that people already live on Facebook 24/7, this seems like a great update. If you like getting recommendations from your favorite social media resources, it’s even better.

The problem is that in recent years their younger audiences have dropped off in favor of other sites. Regardless of what they think, not everyone is flocking to Facebook for their every need.

My guess is that this service will benefit those already using Facebook, but is less likely to draw new audiences in.

Adding more services may not be the key to success if Facebook can’t refine their other features. They have already been criticized for their ad reporting practices, though they seem to fix everything with a new algorithm.

Facebook has continued to stray away from their original intent, and food delivery won’t be their last update.

Facebook wants to be everything, but not everyone may want the same.

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Social Media

Hate Facebook’s mid-roll ads? So does everyone else

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Those pesky ads that pop up in the middle of that Facebook video, aka mid-roll, seem to be grinding everyone’s gears.

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mid-roll

In an ongoing effort to monetize content, Facebook recently introduced “mid-roll” ads into videos by certain publishers, and it has now been testing that format for six months. If you aren’t a big fan of those ads interrupting your content consumption experience, you aren’t alone; publishers aren’t crazy about them either.

In a report on the program, five publishers working with Facebook’s new mid-roll ad program were sourced and all five publishers found that the program wasn’t generating the expected revenue.

One program partner made as little as $500 dollars with mid-roll ads while generating tens of millions of views on their content.

Two other partners wouldn’t specify exact revenue number, but they did acknowledge that the ad performance is below expectations. As far as cost goes, certain publishers mentioned CPMs between 15 cents and 75 cents.

That range is large because a lot of the data isn’t clear enough to evaluate their return on investment. According to the Digiday report, publishers receive data on total revenue, along with raw data on things like the number of videos that served an ad to viewers.

The lack of certain data points, along with the confusing structure of the data, makes it difficult to assess the number of monetized views and the revenue by video. For context, YouTube, as arguably the biggest player in video monetization, provides all these metrics.

Another issue is that licensing deals are cutting into margins. Facebook pays publishers, via a licensing fee, to produce and publish a certain number of videos each month. In exchange, Facebook keeps all money until it recoups the fee, after which revenue is split 55/45 between the publisher and Facebook.

While these challenges doesn’t change the fact that revenue is low, it does make it difficult to dissect costs in a meaningful way.

Why is revenue so low to begin with?

For starters, a newsfeed with enough content to feed an infinite scroll probably isn’t the best format for these kinds of ads. As a user, when I’m watching the videos and the ad interrupts the experience, I’ve always scrolled right on through to the next item on my feed. It’s a sentiment echoed by one of the publishers in the Digiday story.

Because of that, Facebook’s new Watch program, which creates a content exclusivity not found on the news feed, might produce better results in the future. Either way, Facebook will need to solve this revenue challenge for publishers, or they might pull out of the programs altogether.

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