Thursday, 8 September 2011

Share and share a like. But what about comments?

'Like', 'Comment' and 'share' are the ubiquitous links that appear under posts on facebook. Whether on a page or in a newsfeed, these are the main ways people interact on the platform. Applications and other features come and go, but these remain the most common way a user spreads content.

Encouraging users to do so is (or should be) the backbone of Social Media strategy and the surest route to that holy grail of online marketing; viral propagation of a marketing message.

Actually this article's not about 'comments', or rather it is, as well as 'likes', but more about 'share'.

In last week's article, I looked at measuring success on facebook, specifically through the Monthly Active Users (MAU) statistic, which show how many fans and non-fans see a page and it's posts. Examining this with example pages, I found that even without many fans, comments or likes, MAU can still be very high. There's nothing in the stats to account for this, but there is something on a page that isn't represented in the stats.

The 'share' link, next to those for 'like' and 'comment', allows a user to post a page's status updates to their own profile, meaning that it appears in their friend's newsfeeds. It's arguably more powerful than either of the other two in spreading content, yet the number of times an update is shared is not shown in a pages statistics or indicated anywhere else.

Except perhaps in the MAU. If it is the share link that accounts for that large difference in the example pages, then that demonstrates just how powerful it can be.

It's strange because many Social Media experts barely mention it. More often than not, you'll be told that likes and comments are key, but are they really?

Let's compare them to share.

If a user likes a page, then it will appear in their friends newsfeed, but likes for posts don't. Comments on posts don't either.

Shared posts do.

Straight away, that's a big difference. Newsfeed is the first thing a user sees when they login and is essentially their facebook home page. That's the main target and if you're not appearing there, you really should be and have little chance of doing well.

Comments made on pages will appear in the newsfeed, but only if it's your friend commenting on a page you already like. So not too helpful in acquiring new fans.

So encouraging users to click 'share' is only way to get your status updates into new newsfeeds.

But how best to give that encouragment? And once they share, is your message still getting across?

We'll look at that next week.

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