when success looks different than number of likes, comments & shares

The are misconceptions when it comes to the value of likes, comments and shares when analyzing social media content. If no one liked or engaged with your post, it does not mean that a piece of content was unsuccessful and should be removed from your strategy. (There, I said it.)

Yes – engagement rate can be a great tool to measure social media growth, but it shouldn’t be the metric on which you base every piece of content’s success.

Go and remind yourself what the goal was for each piece of content.[and if your content doesn’t have a goal – heck, if your monthly calendar doesn’t have at least 4-5 of them, go figure some out! And PS. Make sure out of the 4, only one of the goals is engagement!]

If the goal of the post is not to engage, don’t measure the success of the piece of content based on the number of people that liked, commented or shared it. Before deciding whether or not to pull a piece of content because it’s just “not engaging” consider these other instances where success looks a little different than number of likes.

Did you give it time? If you were to pull each piece of content for low engagement after only a few tries, you may not have tried long enough to see the full effects. User Generated content is a great example of a piece of content that takes time and effort to really see the benefits. The goal ISengagement, but probably NOT the way you are thinking! The point of using user-generated content is to show other people using and interacting with the brand. The end goal here is to increase the number of people talking about or creating content with your brand on their own assets – not necessarily the increased interaction with yours. This kind of interaction is far more valuable than any like, comment or share! Despite each piece of individual content, these posts collectively can help boost the number of people talking about your brand and contribute to what I call “social media virality” that youdon’t pay for.

Did it reach an unusually large number of people? Facebook (especially) has a brain all of its own. It gives validity to times where you tag bigger entities and share news from news sites (some of which PAY to have their content ranked and shared in news feeds!). Sometimes, you need to look at reach and impressions like you would a regular print or billboard ad (think back to the stone age before people could interact with companies 1-1, people still won on advertising didn’t they?) Each person reached is still a person that saw your brand and might recognize the brand in the future. Just because a person didn’t like your post didn’t mean they didn’t remember your brand, the context in which you talked about it, and interacted with your product where it counts: at the point of sale (and that a completely different measurement and time span!)

Are you better off with it then without it? Newsletter sign-ups are a great example of this. They typically are poor reaching and poor engaging posts, but once in a blue moon, you have a fan who decides to take action and now you have 1 more email address than when you started. There is an exception to this – and that is to keep in mind the cost of posting this. Hard costs may be $0, but if it’s costing you valuable space in your calendar, reconsider and re-prioritize your goals. Note the difference between a piece of content that needs to be removed and a piece of content that just needs to sit lower on your priority list.

Are you supporting something bigger than you? AKA, why I named my company “Blend” Social Marketing. I figured out a long time ago, that – although I want to selfishly chase the goals I set myself that just involve progressing a client’s social media assets, “it isn’t just about me.” Strategically, social media needs to support the entire company. Is there a way you can help Sales generate leads or communicate ideas? Is there a way you can help HR by supporting hiring and employee retention? Is there a way you can involve employees in your social media program to help them become more engaged in the program – or even to show appreciation for them? Does the piece of content help strengthen the bond between your PR team and a reporter?

Was it a necessity? I’m a firm believer that being involved in social media means staying ahead or “on” trends, experimenting with new platforms and figuring out a way to go where the people are and business may not yet be. Maybe the content you posted wasn’t engaging – but that’s not the point of this kind of endeavor (yet). I turned down an idea from a colleague for a business to get on Instagram in 2012. It was probably power-tripping stubbornness on my part (because it wasn’t my idea) but it was probably one of the one things in my fresh-out-of-college years that I regret fighting – and that I’ll pour my energy into making right. It’s a necessity to experiment right now. If the content wasn’t engaging – figure out what the content WAS (was it on brand? Was it unique and different?) and pave your own path. Making small tweaks here and there will help you improve. Monitoring, journaling, and learning will all help you figure it out when it matters. Content that is a pure necessity is never a failure.

If that seems like a long list of content that doesn’t “fail” – you’re probably right with me at this point. Really, the only piece of content that does “fail” is the content that fails to support your brand or business goals. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to take 10 minutes to do the following:

Understand the line between each piece of content and a business goal so you know the proper way to measure its success.

Rank the goals by what’s most likely to progress you. This is important for one simple fact: what gets a lot of likes, may not further your brand. Understand how to sprinkle things like giveaways and quotes to boost your engagement without sacrificing other brand needs. (Keep that in mind as to where you spend your money boosting posts too!)

Marry consumer wants and the company’s goals. Social media marketers are match makers. I find its our duty to listen to both the consumers and company and find where the wants and needs intersect and capitalize through the creation of content and opening doors of two-way communication.

Social media should be tailored to fit your own marketing and sales programs, your own business goals – not those of your competitor, not those of other companies. Therefore, measure it so, and adjust to progress.