Are social media metrics more important than content?

Marketers often look at social media metrics to determine how well a post and/or page is doing. These metrics include followers, views, likes, and shares, among others. 

But should they be the primary focus of your social media marketing?

I don’t think so. Let me explain.

Content is still king

I believe your social media efforts should primarily be concerned with posting regular, quality content that adds value to your audience. 

Value in the context of a social media channel can be a variety of things, from educating someone in a clear, efficient way to making them smile when they read a post. It’s about creating content that can eventually lead to sales and can boost your reputation. 

The type of content you post may look different if you’re using Twitter as opposed to Instagram or Facebook as opposed to Snapchat. But the principle remains the same: Consistently put out value-adding content.

By focusing on value-adding content, I think you’re setting your page up for long-term success, even if you currently have two followers and zero engagement. Followers and engagement are likely to eventually come if this is your focus.

It’s as the 80s movie Field of Dreams says, “If you build it, he will come.” Swap “he” with “your target audience,” and you get the idea.

Do metrics matter?

As I’m building out my company page on LinkedIn, I’m tempted to judge myself based on my metrics (particularly my number of followers) instead of my content.   

Don’t get me wrong — follower count matters. After all, a page with one follower may not look as established as a page with 500. And yes, shares and likes are important metrics that indicate people are engaging with your brand, which is great for building brand awareness and generating potential leads. 

The downside of metrics

I think the most concerning problem of being all-consumed with metrics is that it distracts you from the content. And you won’t get retweets, subscribers, followers, etc. if your content isn’t appealing to your target audience.

When it comes to followers in particular, they are oftentimes bought. So when you see a page with 10,000 followers, you’d be warranted to wonder how many of them were actually bought.

Metrics can benefit content

Last month I shared something on LinkedIn that I originally posted on my company page: “Site tip: Brevity is useful. #digitalmarketing.”

That single post got over 6,000 views within three days. But the number of people visiting my website remained unchanged. 

It did, however, help me with my content strategy, because I saw an example of content that people clearly really liked.

This led to a few changes to my social media strategy:

  • I am more aware of how hashtags really help a social media post. My post had gotten so many views precisely because I included #digitalmarketing. As of this writing, that single hashtag has over 2.46 million followers. 
  • I started a series of posts that each begin with “Site tip:” followed by some kind of website advice.
  • I realized the value of humor in my posts. And even though attempts at humor can be awful (and destroy a business), it can also work really well and lead to more customers.

Wrapping up

While there’s no sure-fire way to know if your social media page is going to be a long-term success, I think the focus on content over metrics is going to give you a better chance of thriving. 

So to recap:

  • Content should be your primary focus
  • Metrics matter
  • Metrics can distract from content
  • Metrics can help create new content
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