aka Vanity Metrics Are Worthless & Futile – Part 1: Twitter

Pop Quiz: What’s worth more to your brand?

A) 50,000 Twitter Followers with a .1% Engagement Rate?

B) 2,000 Twitter Followers with a 10% Engagement Rate?

C) 500 Twitter Followers with a 50% Engagement Rate?

If your answer is A, you need to read this column all the way to the bottom. Answer B is the aggregate average of most SaaS businesses (are you working for one of these?). Answer C is both correct and counter-intuitive to most.

Reality Bytes

Gone are the days where a marketing team can get by on flashing large community numbers in front of C-level staff and expecting generous budget allowances. Social media metrics are much less about general advertising metrics such as eyeballs and reach and much more about what those community members actually do. How your network contacts engage with your social media accounts determines the success of your overall brand messaging and specific campaigns.

Calculating ROI from social media is still a hot topic despite the pretty much unanimous opinion that to be successful individuals and businesses need a strong social brand. Folks who assign themselves to the “social media expert” and “guru” buckets are still loudly toting the necessity of mass likes, followers, and connections. It’s easy to see why, too, as these figures give the aura of objective, tangible numbers. However, more seasoned social media practitioners are devout believers in the value of engagement — and engagement only. Here’s why.

Oh, you have 50K Twitter Followers?

When it comes to business you need to do the math. Because at the end of the day effort must result in revenue. If it doesn’t, you’re no longer in business. Vanity metrics such as large Twitter followers don’t add up. It is not uncommon for a Twitter account with 50K followers to have 0.001 percent engagement which equates to 50 people. That level of engagement is not going to keep the lights on or grow your community in a meaningful way.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

If a tweet is not seen or responded to, does it matter? Specifically — do you matter? Shouting on a street corner may have sold a few newspapers back in the day but your social messaging will only add to the hustle and bustle if your tweet is not crafted to stand out to your target audience.

How do you keep the attention of your audience on Twitter?

Twitter Engagement tips Rachel

If you haven’t been tracking your engagement statistics or aren’t particularly judicious in who you follow on Twitter – DO NOT FEAR! There are nifty tools like ManageFlitter and JustUnfollow to audit and clean up your followers and others like Followerwonk to help make sure your tweets are sent at optimal times for your specific audience.

Here are 3 useful tips for increasing your Twitter engagement:

  1. Be Re-Tweetable. Keep your tweet length to 120 characters for easy RT’ing. Shorter tweet lengths allow people to add their own actionable commentary which increases your message reach.
  2. Own the hashtag. Including hashtags in your tweets significantly increases their reach and enables your content to be seen by folks not yet following your account. If possible, create a clever hashtag exclusive to your business and encourage your community to share content, which increases your brand awareness.
  3. Up your game on weekends. Twitter streams are slower on weekends and people have more time to read. Increase your outbound on Saturday and Sunday and you’ll be pleased see increased shares and click-throughs.

Quality for the win
A smaller but highly engaged Twitter following that regularly RT’s, Mentions, and Favorites your tweets will give you much more ROI than simply a large following. Of course, maintaining a high level of engagement while continuously growing your community is the long term goal. But do not be discouraged by a slow follower rate. And most especially: DO NOT seek black hat tactics to quickly reach vanity targets. Sorry, there aren’t any (worthwhile) shortcuts.

The theme of this post is undeniably quality over quantity. I’m happy to see the pendulum swinging back this way across all social networks. People are sharing content that truly adds value, solicits commentary, and inspires others to take action. No more posting every hour, on the hour, 24/7. I rarely get spammed on LinkedIn anymore because I am selective about connecting. I have built a network of peers, mentors, customers, and vendors who now fall into the first two categories. Relationship building is a two way street and the key driver is engagement.

“If I’m just shouting at you the entire time, that’s not a relationship; you’re the audience. But if I say something and you respond to me and I respond to you, that’s a dialogue.” — Jeremy Epstein, VP/Marketing and Social Navigator at Sprinklr

Give and keep on giving

Maintaining a high engagement rate as your Twitter follower count increases requires reciprocity — which in turn requires discipline and tactics. Be aware of the influencers in your network and take the time to RT, Favorite, and Reply to their tweets. Positioning yourself as someone who is knowledgeable and always available to help is invaluable. People are drawn to selfless behavior and naturally imitate what they like. When you share your network’s content they are very likely to return the favor and organically increase your reach.

Nurturing your Twitter community is a function built around a mindset of generosity. Be a gracious host and and you will be rewarded with loyal advocates.

I know this for sure: When determining success metrics for your community focus only on the numbers that matter. Engagement. Engagement. Engagement.

Listen earnestly to the voices of your community. When they speak, you’re a success.