What’s your actual social media reach?

One of the key metrics to pay attention to at the very top of the funnel is reach. How many people are you getting in front of on a regular basis?

Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections are all great and important as a very first step towards growing your presence. That said, how much of the audience you’ve accrued actually sees your stuff?

Here’s an example. In Twitter’s Analytics, this is the information we see by default:


So far, so good. Over 86 days, I accrued 1.2 million impressions. With 80,000+ followers, that works out to 14,000 impressions a day, or about 17.5% reach in aggregate.

But there are details and nuances. Above, I’ve highlighted how a recent tweet has performed. It’s accrued only 1,100 impressions. What if this is the more common scenario? How would we find out?

I downloaded my stats from Twitter (just push the Export CSV button) and plotted average impressions out on a line chart:


It looks like the median reach of my tweets on a daily basis is actually about 2,150 impressions. This tells a very different story: my actual reach for any given tweet is 2.69% of my audience size.

Imagine, if you’re trying to benchmark yourself against competitors, and you see a particularly fearsome competitor with a million followers, how much less fearsome they appear if only reach 26,900 of them?

What’s the antidote to this lack of reach? We of course know what the various social networks would like us to believe the antidote is:

Slackershot: Money

Beyond that, what else can you do? The simplest thing is to cross-pollinate; by sharing the same content on multiple networks, you can reach potentially different audiences. For example, if we examine my Google Analytics traffic, we see that Twitter generates slightly more than 2/3 of my social visits:


If I focused only on Twitter, I’d be missing 30%+ of my traffic from other networks. That’s why I typically will post the same content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. I also use email marketing to reinforce what I share socially, to ensure that content gets seen by as many people as possible.

If your social media program isn’t performing as well as you expect it to, take a look at your actual reach metrics. Find out just how many people are truly seeing your content, then test alternate methods and schedules to find what generates the best results for you.

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How does social media sharing impact the sharer?

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post over on the SHIFT blog about whether social media sharing matters. Jason Falls asked the following question in return:


I’m glad you asked! Logically, if you’re sharing someone else’s content, one would expect that you should see a greater lift in your engagement rates, in things like retweets and favorites, likes, comments, etc. Let’s see if that holds true.

I’ll start by downloading publicly available data about Jason’s Twitter usage, since Twitter’s data is the most accessible. From that data, I want to differentiate what’s owned media – his own content, going to JasonFalls.com or mentioning his Twitter account – and what’s not. This is a relatively straightforward Excel formula; if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter’s Premium Content, you’ll learn how in this Sunday’s issue.


This is a good start. We want to trim out any @replies that Jason has made and remove any Tweets that don’t contain any URLs, since the topic of discussion is the sharing of content, owned or otherwise.

When we condense all that data down and summarize it, does sharing other people’s content net you less engagement or more? Below is a chart of engagement (favorites and retweets) by owned media content (promoting your own stuff, in red) and shared content (in green):


For Jason, the answer is less; his own posts get more favorites and more retweets on average than posts he shares of other peoples’ stuff. This makes some amount of logical sense; after all, if people follow you for who you are, then they might engage more with your content.

Now, that might be just a case of a personal account. What about a brand? Let’s take the poster child of social media engagement, Oreo. What can we see in their public data about owned vs. shared content?

Oreo Engagement.jpg

Interesting that the difference is even more pronounced. Despite the constant mantra in social media marketing to share, share, share, we see that owned media content has performed better for driving engagement in two prominent examples.

As always, I’d urge you to examine your own metrics and data. Look how sharing impacts your social media engagement, then consider what and how you share to either improve shared media numbers, or double down on your owned media creation and sharing.

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How to measure shared social media content


In many social media analytics tools, you’re often given the choice of downloading just your own content metrics or your content plus content you’ve shared. You might download just your tweets, or your tweets and retweets, as an example. The question is, does this matter? Should you measure shared social media content?

The answer is a “yes, but”. Yes, you should measure your shared social media content, but you should differentiate between what’s owned and what’s shared.

Re-shared content helps to boost the engagement rates with your account, which matters for networks like Facebook. Facebook’s algorithm favors engagement, even of re-shared content.

However, it’s important not to conflate re-shared content with your own stuff. Your own content, the original materials you’re sharing in the hopes of being re-shared, has to be measured on its own so you can determine whether people like it. If you aggregate all your social media metrics together in one bucket, you can’t tell how well your own content resonates.

Here’s an example from my personal Twitter account. If I look at the average retweet rate of all my tweets in the last year, on average I earn 63 retweets per tweet, and have a median of 20 retweets per tweet:


If I remove all retweets that I shared, the numbers change drastically. On average I earn 3.5 retweets and a median of just slightly more than 3 tweets:


That’s a huge difference. While the content I share is very popular, my own content needs work. I need to improve my stuff to be on par with the stuff I re-share. If my Twitter account were a business, I might even change my social media strategy to favor a curation-first model rather than a creation/curation blend.

Understanding the difference between your content and your sharing is vital for evaluating each component of your social media marketing plan!

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