With every social media platform cracking down on organic reach, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your data. It’s the tool you need to stay ahead – but are you making the most of what platforms share?
Here are the metrics that matter when it comes to growing and maintaining your brand.
Reach is the total number of people who see your content. It’s different from impressions in that it tracks unique views while impressions tally the number of times your content appears in anyone’s feed. To put it simply, you can have multiple impressions from one person while your reach counts each viewer once.
Total reach is separated into “paid” and “organic”. As the name might suggest, paid views are arranged through the platform for a fee. On Facebook this includes both ads and promoted posts. Organic views, on the other hand, happen naturally as a result of newsfeed algorithms, follower shares, or other free methods. Organic reach is very low on most platforms. Instagram admits users don’t see 70% of their newsfeeds, and Facebook dropped theirs to effectively zero when they launched their Explore tab.
Why should you care about reach? Though different experts will give different answers, the reasons boil down to three points:
- Only content that followers see has any impact; reach tells you if enough people are being exposed to your work.
- Reach provides a basis for comparison when measuring the effect of your content. Three hundred shares on a channel with a reach of five hundred is phenomenal, but if your reach is five million those shares aren’t as impressive.
- High reach appeals to sponsors. With YouTube demonetizing videos for the smallest reasons, ad sharing is no longer a reliable source of income. Quality sponsorships will keep your channel going in the long run.
Boosting your reach
While some tactics are platform specific, there are a few tricks that work on every social media platform.
- Prioritize video and pictures: Text-only content is very low ranked by social media algorithms, which favor visual posts. Video- especially live video- does well on all platforms.
- Pay attention to the best times to post: Analyze your best-performing content. Are there better and worse times to post? Make sure you schedule posts when your followers are most likely to be looking for it.
- Encourage fans to share: Shares and likes increase your content’s relevancy in social media algorithms. Most newsfeeds will show a shared video before one from a followed channel.
Growth is the percentage of new followers your channel gains in a month. It’s a better metric than base follower count. Getting the same number of new followers each month translates into a decline in popularity while keeping the same percentage of new followers indicates steady performance. Here’s how that works:
Your YouTube channel has 1,000,000 subscribers. You got 10,000 new fans in December, so your growth rate is 1%. The following month you start with 1,010,000 subscribers. You would need 10,100 new fans in January to maintain your 1% growth rate.
A low growth rate suggests that your new followers aren’t sharing your content. This could be because the message doesn’t resonate with them anymore or because they’re ghost or secondary accounts. Whatever the reason, low growth means you aren’t attractive valuable new followers.
This can seriously hurt your reach. Most social media platforms prioritize Liked content when generating the Newsfeed. On Facebook the situation is more dire: since they moved un-Liked pages to the Explore feed, no one will see your content in their Feed unless they Like your page.
The bottom line is that you can’t compete if no one sees your posts, and they probably won’t see it unless it’s been Liked or shared by an existing follower.
Maximizing your growth
The best way to increase growth is to raise the visibility of your content and your brand.
- Optimize posts for different platforms: Each platform attracts a different demographic. Make sure you aren’t just copy-pasting your posts across platforms; instead, tailor each to the specific audience.
- Crosslink your social media: Include links to your other social media accounts in videos and posts. Make it easy for Instagram followers to find your YouTube channel and you’ll capture new cross-platform fans.
- Be visible in the online community: Engage in discussions in forums and other areas where potential followers go. Don’t annoy others by name-dropping your channel in every post, but do include links to it on your profile.
- Encourage likes and shares: Appeal to your fans for help growing your channel. Fans are 23% more likely to retweet your content when you include “retweet”.
Share of voice
How much of the conversation in your area of influence includes you? How often are you or your posts mentioned in domain-relevant tags and threads? This percentage is called “share of voice”.
Calculating share of voice can be complex, but it’s a useful way to compare yourself to your closest competitors. A relatively high share of voice demonstrates leadership, expertise on a subject, and influence within your community. These are qualities that make you a very appealing prospect to sponsors and potential collaborators.
Raising your share of voice
Don’t spam social networks trying to raise your share of voice. Your reputation could suffer, and it will hurt your brand in the long run. A better route is to take part in carefully selected online activity that highlights your personality and knowledge.
- Contribute to trending discussions: Follow relevant hashtags, and make thoughtful contributions when you have something to say. When your name is regularly seen connected to a certain topic, people will start to seek out your opinion and talk about you when you aren’t there.
- Collaborate with other leading creators: This has the double benefit of attracting new followers from your partner’s audience.
- Be genuine: Talk about what you know. Stay on brand with your personality and message, and if you don’t know something research it before making a video. Fans respond to sincerity.
Engagement measures interaction with your content (i.e., likes, clicks, shares, and mentions). It’s an active metric; fans must be moved to take action in order to count as engagement.
Engagement is a direct reflection of how interested people are in your content. It affects most other metrics; in fact, improving engagement also drives reach, growth, and share of voice. High engagement numbers attract the best sponsors, too.
If you want better engagement, it’s going to cost time and effort.
- Create appealing content: There’s no shortcut here. People share content they enjoy and find relevant, so don’t post just to have something up. Make sure every video has something special or interesting.
- Use hashtags: Hashtags have been shown to increase engagement rates. Posts with two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement rate than un-tagged posts. Don’t go wild, though- adding too many hashtags actually lowers engagement by 17%.
- Engage with followers: Build a relationship with your audience. Reply to comments, call out superfans during live streams, and seek out two-way interaction when possible.
Getting access to more data
Of course, there’s only so much you can do with the data you get from social media. There’s no easy way to query the data or make custom requests, and platforms can change what’s shared any time.
To get full access to your follower data, consider a custom content platform. Interacting through your own branded app grants you full ownership of follower data, which offers many more options for evaluating your performance.