Quality vs. Quantity

For some time, the inclusion of the word ‘media’ in ‘social media’ has sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

It’s that word ‘media’ that I find causes some people to lose sight of how social media can most effectively be used and how it should be measured, and instead they start trying to compare ‘media’ and ‘social media’ on common ground.

They try to calculate the ROI of their business’ social media efforts based on the number of impressions they can achieve with their brand’s content, which is a very ‘media’ way of measuring success.

When they go on to correlate social media impressions to what can be accomplished with paid media they quickly come to realize that comparatively, they’re not getting many impressions via social media, and those that they do get are extremely inefficient. Surprise, surprise!

But, for some reason, they’re compelled to continue pursuing the attainment of more impressions via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, or whatever other social media platforms their brand is active on.

The fastest, easiest, most obvious way to do this is to acquire more fans, followers or subscribers. The more people you have following your brand on social media, the more impressions you’ll theoretically achieve, right?

These organizations end up placing huge emphasis on acquiring as many social media followers as possible, with little to no regard for the quality of these individuals and any of the benefits that can be experienced through nurturing and fostering quality engagements between their business and social media audience, and their audience members amongst themselves.

But what if you can actually achieve more impressions with fewer, highly engaged followers, than you can achieve with a huge number of low quality fans or followers?

Would this be a convincing way to demonstrate the true value of highly engaged community members?

It’s not as crazy as it seems.

Let’s compare two theoretical social media communities: the first is comprised of 50,000 low quality fans or followers, and the second is comprised of 1,000 super fans that are highly engaged with the brand in question.

50,000 low quality fans or followers

The numbers here are fairly straightforward to calculate.

We know that on average, only 16% of Facebook Page fans will see a brand’s content. For any single update, that would mean roughly 8,000 people would see it.

Assuming a business posts 30 times in a month, this works out to 240,000 impressions.


Now, let’s examine what can be accomplished with 1,000 highly engaged followers

Again, assuming only 16% of Facebook Page fans will see a brand’s content, that would mean that only 160 people would see any given update.

Because they’re highly engaged, let’s assume that they create a story out of the business’ update that then appears in their friend’s news feeds.

We know that the average Facebook user manages to reach roughly 35% of their friends with any given update. We also know the average Facebook user has 142 friends, so this means that every story created by a highly engaged fan would reach just shy of another 50 people. This means any single update and related stories would achieve roughly 7,952 impressions.

Assuming a business posts 30 times in a month, this would equate to roughly 238,560 impressions.

This means you would need roughly 50 times the number low quality Facebook followers to achieve a similar number of impressions that you can accomplish with a highly engaged community.

I know, I know… these numbers are flawed like crazy and there are a whole host of variables that aren’t taken into account. But, you’ve got to admit that the numbers here are interesting to look at regardless.


I believe the reality is that most marketers haven’t been implementing social media and content marketing into their marketing mixes long enough to truly understand how their business’ social media activity factors in to their MMAs, and therefore, don’t fully understand how to calculate the true ROI of social media for their business.

Until marketers determine how to confidently measure the true value of their social media marketing efforts, what value engaged social media audience members offer their business, and what conversions are realistic to attribute to social media activity, it’s understandable that they’re looking for relatable ways to measure the ROI of social media, and thus, are comparing it to traditional media.

This said, these direct comparisons completely ignore the ‘social’ part of social media, which completely misses the point and probably results in a gross undervaluation of the impact that effective social media marketing can have.

How do you measure the value of your business’ social media marketing efforts?

How do you factor social media marketing into your business’ MMAs?

It would be amazing to chat about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. […] Matthew For some time, the inclusion of the word ‘media’ in ‘social media’ has sort of rubbed me […]


  2. […] For some time, the inclusion of the word ‘media’ in ‘social media’ has sort of rubbed me the wrong way. It’s that word ‘media’ that I find causes some people to lose sight of how social media can m…  […]


  3. […] not only your social media content, but your business, products, services, brand image, and more. Achieving high levels of engagement can be supremely valuable, and if your influencers and loyalists can help to boost your engagement rates, then you should […]


  4. […] your community essentially for the ‘free media impressions’, let me break some news to you, they’re not free. You’re either paying for ads to grow your community, or your investing time and resources into […]



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Engagement, Facebook, Marketing, ROI, Social Media Strategy


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