Could you imagine the following situation?
You run a city-based tabloid. You publish a fantastic human interest story and it goes ‘places’. If you only have a print edition (and no online edition), the best total audience for your story is your city.
To increase your total audience, you could pay and advertise your story in a national newspaper and gain more readers/eyeballs. Would you do it? Depending on the cost of advertisement, I assume.
Now, let us look at an online equivalent.
I read the social media strategy reviews on Social Samosa keenly. They use Simplfy360 and Unmetric to do the number crunching. But one part of this report continues to bother me a LOT. It is about paid promotion on Facebook.
A related digression, before that: A new Facebook page cropped up recently. It was a sub-brand from a popular brand and had reasonably engaging content. But, within 15 odd days, it had about 80,000 fans and 77,000+ were listed as ‘People Talking About It’. In 15 days!
If that is not a result of paid advertising – to gain likes, or individual post promotion – I don’t think the content is THAT good to go viral like this in 15 days – it was standard, functional content.
Also noted – most posts had 5-10K likes and 1-2K shares, but barely 1-2 comments. There also were posts with 100-300 likes and negligible shares and comments, making it clear that paid promotion gives you reach… and also likes and shares if the content is even half good. Example of half-good content – an image of an actor with a caption that vaguely connects him/her to the brand and an explicit call to action like, ‘Hit like if you think XYZ is blah, blah and blah’.
Now, there absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. The trouble is when, at a tool level, or as a manual research, we compare this with a page that has not used media spends to promote either the page or posts.
End of digression.
Now, here are excerpts from 3 recent social media strategy reviews from SocialSamosa – one of them use Simplfy360 and the other two use Unmetric.
My question – is it fair (or right) to compare 2 brands’ engagement on Facebook without getting into the details of paid promotion?
Take the Panasonic example. Has any effort been taken to know if Panasonic used post-promotion option on Facebook? If yes, should it not be considered with another brand in the industry that also does post promotion, instead of all brands that do or do not do promotion?
How about Aviva Vs. Max Life? Did either of them use media spends to promote their posts or pages on Facebook? If not, the comparison makes perfect sense since it clearly talks about quality of content as decided by followers/community. If media spends were involved, it needs to consider two parameters – quality of content as judged by community AND as judged by a set of audience who would not have seen that (those) post (posts) since they were side-loaded as a result of paid promotion.
I have asked this question to Unmetric many times, but they are yet to consider this factor in their tool and have honestly said that it may be in the pipeline but there’s no timeline on when it may be added. I’m not sure if Simplify360 has been asked this question yet.
Brands using tools to track performance of Facebook pages or using more laborious manual research methods may need to remember that there is a big difference between organic flight of content and inorganic, paid push for content. The former, when it goes places, is on 2 factors – the strength of the content and the kind/influence of people who pushed it.
In case of the latter, a 3rd factor is added – money. Money… which gets the piece of content new audiences… one which may not have seen it but for the paid push that put it in front of them.
As I mentioned earlier, this post is not about the fact that brands use money to push content ahead. It is only about inadequate systems to tell the difference between successful content or community that was built organically vs. inorganically. Earlier, you earned an audience in Facebook. Now, thanks to Facebook, you can also buy an audience on Facebook. You could argue that bought audiences won’t stick, but the beauty of Facebook is that you can keep buying the attention again and again, for every single post!