When it comes to growing social media channels, it’s easy to get drawn in and focus on Twitter “follower” or Facebook “like” numbers. If your followers increase, it must mean people like you. If they decrease or remain stagnant, then they must not like you. Yet, it’s not that simple.
Historically, we think about numbers the same way we’d look at statistics. In the law enforcement world, 20 expired vehicle registration citations represent a different picture than 10 DUI or 10 narcotics arrests; an “apples to oranges” comparison. We do a disservice to ourselves if we limit our field-of-view to just one metric: numbers. Going back to the above example, dig a bit deeper and you may discover the expired registration surge was the result of a special enforcement detail. While this example may seem like an oversimplification, it illustrates the importance of asking questions to gather all of the evidence, culling through it and coming up with the real story. In social media parlance, this story translates into engagement, influence, and reach.
Engaging your community with solid content will organically grow your audience and encourage greater reach and influence, consistently. In a KISSmetrics
blog post @jdeeringdavis
summarizes the latter succinctly, “Just because someone has a lot of friends or followers that does not mean they can encourage those followers to actually do anything.”
1. What does engagement look like?
On Facebook, it can take the form of thanking and interacting with anyone
who took the time to leave a comment (good or bad). On Twitter, it's a
favorite of someone who mentions you, or simply replying back to them
when they ask you a question. Remember, when people like, share,
retweet, or comment on your posts, THEIR friends and followers will very
likely see this activity as well (and may end up "liking" or "following" you
2. When do I engage?
With Twitter, when and what you post will determine how long your tweet
lives (or reincarnates when someone retweets you). Put simply, tweet when
your followers are awake and interacting with social media. There are many
free tools like Tweriod
which will analyze your followers and determine the
best time to post tweets. Armed with that information, you can then tweet
during times most likely to elicit engagement from your followers (with the
caveat that breaking news or public safety alerts go out at any time).
Take the time to reply back to people who make comments via Twitter or
Facebook. You might be addressing one person’s question or concern but
many others are also listening in to your response (an ideal platform and
opportunity to showcase your agency’s professionalism and brand
3. Where do I find my social media data?
Facebook offers free analytical tools (under the insights tab) which will provide
a plethora of information on who and where your followers are. Most
importantly, these tools show you which stories your followers interact with and
share most often. After analyzing a number of different types of posts,
including video and photos on our Mountain View PD Facebook Page
, we found
that there was some interaction on “feel good” content, but the bulk of our
engagement came from posts that dealt with criminal apprehension and crime
suppression stories. Analysis into our @MountainViewPD
Twitter account told us
a similar story with some minor variations. Data like this can change over time
so we continue to look at our data and track it on a quarterly basis.
• Invest time diving into your stats to learn more about your followers.
• Adjust your content to mirror how your community enjoys interacting with you.
• Keep in mind that this is a constantly evolving process. Your social media
communities today are going to behave differently four, six, and eighteen
months from now.
• Follower statistics alone only provide one chapter in the social media
storybook. Engagement statistics provide the context.
Special thanks to MVPD Social Media Coordinator Shino Tanaka (@shinotanaka
) for her insight with this post.