Social Media

Using Context & Objectives to Gauge Success on Facebook

August 19, 2013

In an effort to compel users to take action, Facebook updated its algorithm last year by personalizing the News Feed to serve relevant content, specific to each user. This urged marketers to optimize and tweak their content strategies while reevaluating which metrics were most important to a brand’s health on the platform.

The goal became to acquire shares, comments and likes – specifically in that order – as the Facebook algorithm weighs certain fan actions heavier than others. Likes lost some of their luster, as shares and comments symbolized a deeper level of brand affinity that requires increased effort from fans.

But equating engagement success by looking at the number of shares or comments fails to paint the comprehensive picture marketers need when assessing the success of their efforts on Facebook. The following post outlines four scenarios in which brands would want to weigh engagement metrics differently, underscoring the importance of context and brand objectives when it comes to measuring ‘success’ on Facebook.

Scenario #1: Global or large brands utilizing media

Not surprisingly, large or global brands – such as Starbucks and OREO – tend to see a higher number of fan actions overall, especially when their content strategy is supported by paid media. These brands’ broad followings provide a large scale and spectrum of comments, making it challenging to determine the added value of these types of interactions.

With such volume, focusing on the sentiment of the feedback is pivotal. In these cases, brand priority should shift to likes and shares as these actions demonstrate a positive, emotional connection with the brand. For example, a global post might garner a number of comments that is par with the average for that brand – but if there are more shares that would prove that there was a stronger fan connection with this particular piece of content.

Scenario #2: Interest-focused brands

Conversely, smaller niche brands that are interest-focused already have a specific and engaged following. In these cases, inspiring and measuring fan comments becomes crucial. For example, 360i client Comida Kraft has built a vocal and immensely engaged Facebook community in which fans constantly interact with one another in that space.

For this community, comments are an outlet for showcasing the tight-knit bonds between fans, and extreme fan loyalty to the brand itself. Brand objectives include establishing the page as a social destination where users can go to converse with one another. In this scenario, comments become a manifestation of brand love as well as a true testament that context and brand objectives are invaluable when attributing worth to a type of engagement.

Scenario #3: Brands looking to amplify reach

Brands wanting to extend their reach have found success through reintegrating text-only posts into their content strategy. While visual posts generally garner better engagement numbers, as of late, brands are bringing text posts back into the content mix since they see much higher reach than visual posts. Text-based posts are also more likely to yield comments than likes or shares, placing all the more value on the comment metric as an indication of success.

As an example, Simply Beverages (another 360i client) has text-only posts that receive an extremely high response rate in the form of comments, which create a connection between fans and the brand while raising awareness about the product. Additionally, comments can provide further learnings about fans’ tastes and preferences that aren’t made available through other actions. This type of qualitative data is actionable and key in shaping future content.

Scenario #4: Brands creating fan-driven content

If searching to create fan-driven content, brands should stay true to larger brand objectives rather than strive for “heavily-weighted” actions. Here, we define fan-driven content as that which is dependent on fan behavior and interaction. For example, a brand might ask fans for likes or votes in exchange for a specific content ‘reveal’ (e.g. a new flavor).

Although likes are perceived as showing little indication of how strongly content is resonating with fans, their value depends on the situation. For example, 360i client Kraft Canada asked fans for a certain number of likes in return for a recipe. Fans eagerly “liked” the post and were actively checking back, proving they listened to the call to action. Although this piece of content may not have outperformed other posts when it came to shares or comments, the demonstrated fan behavior confirmed its success as it translated into, and shaped future content.


While certain fan behaviors continue to hold importance when it comes to the Facebook algorithm, brands should ultimately focus on the types of engagement that align with their specific brand goals and objectives.

Cover photo via SingleGrain