Volume Alone Doesn't Count On Social Networks, A New Study Suggests

There is hardly a Website, app or network that doesn’t urge its users to “follow us” on social media, and plenty of those places say it’s those favorable encounters that drive their popularity, and presumably, advertising effectiveness.

But now, Toronto-based Engagement Labs has put an interesting measure to Twitter and Facebook posts by TV networks and the top three OTT video platforms, based on a combo of measures that includes engagement, impact and responsiveness. The results demonstrate that some unusual players show up in places you wouldn’t expect, given their overall TV ratings.   

For example, Fox Business Network, not a league-leading cable ratings grabber, ranks fifth among 50 TV brands on Facebook. It had the highest engagement based on a definitely untricky strategy of frequently encouraging its viewers to share their thoughts about stories and interviews. On Twitter, it’s 18th.



The top cable network on Facebook was Food Network, followed by MSNBC, Fox News and HGTV. Fox Business rounds out the top five.

On Twitter,  E!, Fox News, Cartoon Network, ESPN and MTV form the top five.

On Facebook,  the OTT providers finish in inverse order of their subscriber popularity: Hulu, Amazon and Netflix. On Twitter, it’s a different combination: Amazon,  Netflix and Hulu.

The entire list is here.

What surprises Bryan Segal, Engagement Labs’ CEO, is what interests me too: “Why aren’t the biggest the biggest?” or in other words, why shouldn’t it be that the most popular cable and OTT providers also the cream of the crop on the two social networks? (What doesn’t surprise him, much, is where the E! Channel ends up, based on the cult of the Kardashians.)

The simple answer seems to be that some networks are better, smarter, more intuitive at it than others. Size doesn’t matter. (Except, again, to some fans of the Kardashians.)

The ranking is actually Engagement Labs’ proprietary eValue score, and the interesting thing is that volume didn’t make much difference--it apparently was based more on what was tweeted or featured on Facebook.

On Facebook, the average number of posts by TV networks was 848. On Twitter, the average number was 1,574.

But Segal notes in an e-mail exchange, “Top scoring brands did not post the most. For instance, Food Network only posted 946 times on Facebook, while second-place network, MSNBC, posted 2,256 times. NBC Sports which posted the most amount of times (4,560 times), ranked 13th overall on the channel.”

He says that “supports the idea that increased fan engagement isn’t dependent on posting more frequently.” Indeed posting a lot “can ultimately hinder your overall social media performance.”

In short, if your social media manager has nothing to say, don’t say it anyhow. No one wants to hear it.  And Segal says, a hidden weapon of the high scoring networks is a meaningful back and forth exchange between the poster and the readers. Fox Business and MTV, Segal says, knows how to press buttons to create dialogue.

So do the OTT providers.  Netflix users know their views are sought after through the app itself, and Amazon lets its viewers vote which of their pilots get turned into series, though it only vaguely details what that data really means to them.

But in the Engagement Labs analysis, all three OTTers earned a higher “responsiveness” score than average. That shows the importance they put on the conversation. Hulu scored the highest for engagement among the three.  Despite posting less frequently, Hulu fans liked what they saw, including clips and series debut announcements. It’s touchy-feely stuff like that that matters.

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