Every month I receive an email from measurement / metrics company SocialBakers alerting me to the latest league table of performance for UK Facebook pages. I usually avoid opening this email because it depresses me, perpetuating as it does, the view that Facebook activity and social media in general is a numbers game that is all about creating the maximum number of fans and this thing called engagement. However, this month I took a look, just to see if things were changing. They were not. The part of the report that always depresses me the most, remained depressing. I have shown it below.
Now there are two things that scream out at me from this table. The first is the obvious one – these are not really brands, they are celebrities (with the exception of CEOP – the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre). There may be some clues that conventional brands might derive from this
The second thing is the engagement rate itself. The most engaging brand was scoring a rate of 4 per cent and the average engagement rate was 0.24 per cent. Now this is a pretty poor rate of engagement. Most traditional direct marketing activities would be expected to deliver a response rate higher than this and these activities also benefit from the fact that they actually reach a significant proportion of the target audience. Social media will never reach a significant proportion of your target audience (except in the hugely rare instance where something becomes viral) – so what is the point of reaching a tiny proportion of your audience with an activity that creates an average rate of engagement of 0.24 per cent, and at best only 4 per cent. To my mind it seems obvious that there is absolutely no point. (Note: remember this is 0.24% of those people who have already ‘liked’ a brand in Facebook. A brand woud be lucky if 1% of its target audience likes it in Facebook – so best case this figure is 0.24% of 1%, i.e. only 0.0024% of your target audience, i.e. functionally no-one.)
Now this is not the fault of SocialBakers, they are only the messenger here – they have simply designed an effective way of measuring the wrong thing – something that is based on the wrong assumption about how Facebook should be used, albeit an assumption that their clients want them to make. To their credit, SocialBakers does produce one interesting chart – which looks at what they call social devotion. This is based on the the amount of questions that brands are answering and their speed in answering them (or whether they answer them at all). This chart is below.
Now this is getting closer to measuring a sensible usage of Facebook, although whether this is a valid or valuable statistic to present in the form of a league table is another issue.
To me this just further illustrates that fact that social media is a low reach, but high engagement game (whereas traditional marketing is a high reach but low engagement game) – and if you are scoring at a rate of 4 per cent, let alone at 0.24 per cent, you are never going to win.
Social media is not about audiences of people, and if you drag audience based approaches into it, you will fail. Social media is about individuals or small groups – and you don’t treat and individual as just a very small audience if you want to create any valuable sort of engagement.