On Facebook, ‘touchy-feely’ is out of touch

The findings or a recent study on how brands use Facebook should cause all of us in higher ed to rethink how we use the social media giant for our marketing efforts.

The study, conducted by Facebook itself and recently reported in Ad Age, suggests that the “touchy-feely” approaches many brands (including higher ed brands) take on Facebook aren’t all that effective. (Thanks to Inigral’s Brandon Croke for sharing that Ad Age article via Twitter.) Analyzing 1,200 posts from 23 different brands, Facebook’s researchers found that for those brands, getting a lot of “likes” or comments on posts may be less effective than Facebook “shares,” which redistribute a brand’s post into users’ timelines and is viewable by all of their Facebook pals.

“Compared with likes, shares represent a bigger investment from the consumer and occur less frequently,” writes Ad Age’s Matt Creamer. “Thus, shares are often going to be more meaningful from a marketing perspective. After all, they suggest the brand is tapping into that friend-of-fan network that’s central to Facebook’s viral proposition.”

Good point. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a thumbs up on your Facebook post, but that like is little more than a simple nod of approval from someone who is already connected to your brand. Wouldn’t you rather have members of your Facebook community avidly share your posts with their own networks. This moves people into more of a brand ambassador role, sharing information from your organization with others who may then choose to get on board with you.

But whether you’re talking about likes, comments or shares, the best brands share information that is relative to the brand as well as to their Facebook community, Sean Bruich, head of measurement platforms and standards at Facebook, told Ad Age.

“By far, the biggest predictor of engagement was that the post was on a topic relevant to the brand,” said Bruich. “It impacts everything, from lightweight likes to more invested shares. It’s actually one of the most important things a brand can do. People are seeing the content because they liked the brand, and it makes sense that content about the brand will get them engaged.”

On a related topic, Brandon Croke’s recent blog post, What Prospective Students Think About Your Facebook Page, is worth a read.

Image via birgirking on Flickr/Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/5600215736/

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

4 thoughts on “On Facebook, ‘touchy-feely’ is out of touch”

  1. Good piece–now the trick is writing the content that gets shared, as opposed to just liked! A quick note here to remind people that if you use third-party apps on Facebook to post (Tweet Deck and other dashboards), the share button disappears from the post. Facebook is punishing people for scheduling and automating posts. Just something to keep in mind. HooteSuite has their own Share button, I believe, but with the rest, it’s gone. I may be wrong, but that was the most recent info I had. It changes so often, who knows. But check it out anyway.

  2. Great post! I’ve been saying for a while that a Share is a vital yet undervalued metric. A Like is weak. A Comment can range in sentiments. A Share is an endorsement of your message. And when we see people crowing about or measuring number of fans — and those fans are doing little engagement — it reminds us quantity is still not as important as quality.

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