People Talking About … You?

So Facebook has introduced something new … I know, PINCH ME, right?  In addition to a ton of changes, and more changes coming for brand pages, now your brand’s page shows a new metric:  People Talking About.

This is supposed to be a very quick, numeric summary of your level of engagement with real people.  This does not directly measure anything YOU are doing.  Rather, it measures what your fans are doing.  All the comments, likes, shares, and so forth that you get … this “Talking About” number is designed to be a reflection of that.

Indirectly, however, this is a measure of what you are doing.  You can post stuff that people react to … or you can post stuff that people don’t react to.  You can put a lot of effort into figuring out what will cause people to engage with you on Facebook!

I’d like to recommend a measure of restraint and perspective before you go nuts with this number.

Here’s some perspective:  the top ten most popular brand pages on Facebook.  This short piece ranks the Top 10 on both Likes, and Talking About.  When you look at the lists, you’ll see that Coca-Cola is #1 in Likes, with about 9 million more than #2 Starbucks.  However, on the engagement metric (People Talking About), Starbucks more than doubles Coke’s number!

At the same time, #18 McDonalds didn’t make it onto the Top 10 list.  However, they’re second on the People Talking About list!

What’s more … McDonalds hardly ever posts, by many media brands’ standards.  They’ll often put something new on their Facebook page maybe only two or three times a week.

You can almost see this in your mind.  Picture a huge hotel ballroom, with all these different Facebook brand pages jammed in there, talking and talking and talking, all at the same time.  Except for McDonalds, who is just standing there quietly until, after a couple of days of silence, they raise their hand and clear their throat, and everyone else shuts up to listen!

To me, this begs a couple of points.

  1. “Likes” is still a much more reality-based metric compared to the vaguer, more squishy “People Talking About.”
  2. Unless you’re being paid to build Facebook engagement, your goals may lie more in people using your media brand in a more traditional way, or visiting your website.

For my fellow radio folks, do you see the similarities between Cume and Likes on one hand, and Time Spent Listening and People Talking About on the other hand?  The former numbers … even cume, counted by Arbitron … are just more reliable, consistent numbers.  TSL and, if you will, PTA will jump around based on sampling filtered through mathematical formulas.

Ultimately, Facebook remains a tool.  It’s a valuable one, where you get to focus on giving your biggest fans extra, valuable access to your brand.  This increases their usage, their loyalty, their likelihood to be ambassadors to others on your behalf.

Will these fan lovin’ activities on your part automatically increase your engagement?  Probably.  But you could do all sorts of things to gig your Facebook fans that wouldn’t necessarily translate into the growth of your brand.

Rather than cultivate a huge People Talking About number, cultivate a culture of giving and transparency on your brand’s Facebook page, instead.  That’s what’ll pay off for you.

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