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Finding Sweet Spots with Engagement Rates

Social-Media-ClockThe debate about the best time to post through social networks has been going on as long as community managers have been in play. Lots of data (and tons of infographics) have surfaced, analyzing averages across all industries and telling us to post in the morning.

Some of us chose not to risk losing engagement, and simply adopted these generic findings as fact. Others decided to test the waters and posted when they felt it made sense, leading us to my point: why use a generic average to dictate your posts when you can use your own community, and optimize based on your audience?

It may sound complicated, but getting there is about as involved as your sixth grade math homework. By using a formula SocialBakers first introduced, you can track behavioral patterns with your social communities, and see when they’re more likely to engage.

The most common engagement rates are calculated for Facebook and Twitter, but you can tailor the equation to measure any social network you may be curious about. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll take the Facebook Engagement Rate equation as an example:

1ENGAGEMENT

This equation is calculated per post for best results. Simply take a post, tally up the number of interactions it received, and then divide that number by the total number of fans on your page the day a post was made (you can find this information when you export Facebook Insights in case you don’t keep up with it daily). The more data you collect, the more you’ll notice trends about your community, and the less you have to worry about generic figures. Your community will tell you, based on post engagement rates, what days and times it’s more likely to engage on.

Want to take it a step further? You can even start to analyze the copy of most and least successful posts, and figure out what language invites a response. Then, you’ll be able to answer the when and the how for your messaging, and can prioritize your messages from there.

No two communities are exactly the same. Some of us post on behalf of fashion brands, others for corporate ventures, and everything in between. So, forget the averages, and start setting your own standards with your community. Sure, many communities may be active on Monday mornings, but if yours is more active on Saturday nights, leverage it!

Have you started using engagement rates to measure your community? What results have you seen?

Photo cred: Incept

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About the author

Steph Parker

Steph is currently a social strategist in Boston, overseeing community management, content development, and analytics for clients. Her own work as a community manager in 2012 earned her a nod from Forbes as a 30 Under 30. She also plays a pretty mean video game.

8 comments
evanhamilton
evanhamilton

Very useful post. Though it should be noted that community managers were in play long before social media. @frandallfarmer has been at it for 30 years!

Ryan Crowe
Ryan Crowe

Pretty good introductory post - the popular idea and approach to Community Management has for far too long been about dealing in "feels" and not metrics. This high-level attempt to introduce some sort of data gathering behavior is refreshing to see. I think that once people get the hang of this basic calculation, you can start to tweak the equation to gather even more useful data.

For example, every social action is not created equal - depending on your goals, you can start to break social actions up into a hierarchy Shares > Answers > Comments > Likes (etc. depending on what data is available to you - there is a ton if you're using Insights or Google Analytics... or something else!) - so, you can start to apply a value to each action. Let's say a Share = 5, Answer =3, Comments=2 and a Like=1. You can start to segment your data and make more strategic decisions based on what you are able to gather.  

Let's say a post nets 10 social actions, out of 100 Community members - 10/100 =.1% social interaction rate... alright, so that's where the initial equation ends... not that much info, really. Let's say those 10 actions were Likes. Now, let's look at another post - that same day - that gets 4 social actions, but those social actions were 3 Shares and a Comment. If you just look at the initial equation - you'll think that .1% is more successful than .04%. But maybe that's not really "correct". It takes a lot more energy/effort for a person to Share and Comment on something than it does to click a Like button, so wouldn't you want to recreate that sort of Post (whatever it was)? Also, when someone executes an action of higher value like a Share or Comment, you have to consider the impact that action makes for your Community or Brand. Will a Comment start a conversation that will bring people back again and again to partake in a conversation? Will a Share bring more people to your digital presence because a deliberate endorsement by the Sharer meant more to them than seeing that they "Liked" something in  their Feed?

Let's look again at the two posts with the point attribution model, that first post is worth 10 pts (10 Likes) and the second post is worth 11 (3 Shares, 1 Comment). All of a sudden, considering more than just a basic number - we understand a lot more about what kind of content moves our Community to act. You can segment this data AGAIN - let's say we want to reach as many people as possible and make "brand advocates" - we decide the best action to measure when trying to achieve this goal is getting someone to "Share". All of a sudden, that first post is more definitely worth less (not worthless) than the second post.

I think learning how to gather data, learn how to analyze and act upon that data to accomplish Community/business goals is a skill that every Community Manager needs to have, yet you rarely see the conversation come up.

Emily Drevets
Emily Drevets

Great post! In the age of data, the first question is always, "how do we measure this" not "can it be measured." 

I wonder if there has been any effort to automate this process? 

caligater
caligater

@Ryan Crowe Ryan, I think you should write a post. Rather, I think you should publish what you've written here. :)

stephparker
stephparker

@Emily Drevets I know SocialBakers, who came up with the equation, offers a paid service in which they track your data and evaluate it for you. They do base things a bit more on generic averages based on the research they conduct, but I'm sure it's reliable since they really introduced the idea of it in the first place! 

Personally, I'm a total nerd and like to calculate it so I'm constantly evaluating my own work. :)

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