It is easy to put the blinders on and tell yourself that your content is reaching your audience because your blog had some views, the link in your tweet was clicked or your group has lots of followers. Purely looking at the numbers at a high level won’t really tell you what is going on. You need to dig deeper into what the numbers mean, and who is making up those numbers.
I wrote a blog post called “Automation vs. Humanization” that was posted on our AdFarm website. A few months later, I created an account on Social Media Today, and decided to submit that post to them. It was picked up by them and turned into one of the top posts of the day.
After watching the views rise quickly, I decided to compare the results. Here is what I found:
Views on the AdFarm blog: About 150
Views on the Social Media Today blog: Over 3,200
Tweets on the AdFarm blog: 10
Tweets on the Social Media Today blog: 82
Are you talking to yourself?
Purely looking at the high level numbers will also be deceiving in regards to “who” is reading your content. I work at an agency, and it is pretty typical for several co-workers to read my post after it has been published. That’s great, but if your goal is reach and thought leadership, which will ultimately lead to new clients down the road, those internal views are essentially like talking to yourself. Removing your internal traffic from your analytics will tell the real story.
Unless you are a hands down market leader/thought leader, just putting your content on your site will not reach the masses (most of the time). As the numbers above show, it is sometimes necessary to go outside your platform to extend your reach.
It’s not just blog posts though. The size of your Twitter following is sometimes used to measure the reach of your message. Quite often I hear people say something like “I can reach over 4,000 people through twitter” because that is how many followers they have. Yes, you are posting it out to 4,000 people who have the opportunity to see your message, but how many of them are actually logged on to Twitter at the time of your post? And even if they are logged in, how many of your followers can keep up with every tweet that comes through? It is easy to get caught up in a dialog (Twitalog?) and think that thousands of people are listening in, but the reality is, they just aren’t.
NOTE: If you are smart enough to make a tool that can tell how many of your followers actually were logged on to Twitter at the time of a tweet, or logged in after the fact and scrolled back to the tweet so it appeared on the screen, that would be helpful. Extra credit if the tool can actually guarantee that the tweet was read. GO!
When I look at how the agriculture industry is engaging in social media, the vast majority of efforts seem to be preaching to the choir, not reaching the masses. Looking through Facebook groups, most are made up of other farmers and friends. Looking at conversations on Twitter and in blogs, the majority of comments are made by like-minded people. The message may be reaching others, but not in a way that makes them want to engage further. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, that is what I am seeing.
Keep in mind that social media is not about collecting names, it is about engagement. It’s not about the biggest group, it’s about the most active groups. It’s not about the most eyeballs, it is about the most eyeballs that matter to your business.
Have you had luck reaching the masses (if that is your goal)? How did you do it, and how did you measure success? Please comment and share, we can all learn from eachother.
With a deep and diverse digital background, Josh Lysne is engaging AdFarm clients in the social media conversation every day. Follow @jlysne on Twitter or contact him directly at Josh.Lysne@adfarmonline.com.