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 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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How to make Twitter objective-based advertising work

Twitter recently announced that it was making objective-based advertising available to everyone. These new campaigns ensure that you pay only for the specific result you’re aiming for:


On the surface, this seems like an excellent deal for advertisers. You pay only for what you want to buy. The question is, are these things you want to buy?

The answer depends on understanding what your objective is. If you haven’t already mapped out your social media funnel then it’s unlikely you’ve got a solid handle on what to buy:


Before you spend a dollar on any kind of social media advertising, understand what you’re buying.

You’ll need to invest serious time digging around your analytics to find what’s working least well so you understand what to buy. For example, inside Twitter’s analytics, people following you and the reach of your tweets would be metrics that fall in audience. Favorites and replies would be engagement, as would media engagements. URL clicks might be actions. What’s most broken for you?

Which of these areas is your greatest problem in?

If you try to skip the entire top of the funnel by buying leads, you might find yourself disappointed with the outcome. Likewise, if you don’t engage or drive people towards the bottom of the social funnel in any way, you might spend a lot on growing your following but not produce a business outcome.

Buy first what’s broken most!

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