WHAT INFORMATION IS INCLUDED IN THE INDEX?
Social Media (SoME) Index was originally conceived as a way to make some of the vast amount of data we have accessible to everyone. One thing we noticed early on was that existing leaderboards or benchmarking services missed out on social media engagement data, so the SoMe Index was a way to provide this direct from the social platforms (and overwhelmingly that means Facebook). What we capture includes all the regular on-post engagement (likes, reactions, comments, shares) you’d expect, plus all the web shares, which is the number of times a given URL is shared onto a social platform.
COMPARING THE NORDICS
In terms of the Nordic countries, the thing that surprises me here isn’t the differences but rather the consistent similarities in audience behaviour. The Nordics are high literacy countries with a high rate of news consumption and high Facebook usage. The level of engagement on general news across them is very comparable relative to population size of each Nordic country. We do see differences when comparing Nordic behaviour to the rest of Europe though. In Spain and the UK we see a lot more interaction with lightweight content, viral pages, entertainment and gossip. Germany has a lot less Facebook engagement than you would expect given the size of their population.
WHY IS SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGMENT IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW?
Engagement is important for two main reasons. The first is that engagement correlates very strongly with reach. Put simply, if you have more engagement you will be seen by more people. The second is that engagement reflects real behaviour. Polls have been criticised recently for being inaccurate, but it’s more complicated than that. Usually polls are asking an individual how they think they behave or how they think they will behave in the future, which can be and is quite different to how they actually behave. Facebook engagement is done by people semi-consciously. What I mean by this is that liking, even commenting and sharing on Facebook has become so normalised that we frequently forget what exactly we have engaged with. Anyone can test this by accessing their Facebook ‘Activity Log’, which tracks all the posts you’ve interacted and engaged with yourself. It’s often eye-opening to look in there and see all these things you’ve done which you have little recollection of. If you are looking to see what people are really interested in, Facebook engagement gives strong signals across large data sets.
THE QUESTION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
For marketers, I think SoMe Index is interesting precisely because it reflects behaviour. It is telling a story week by week about what people in your country or industry are interested in. We categorise pages by publisher, so when you’re looking at VG for example, you’re able to see how VGTV is growing over the year which might give an indication of the real rate of video consumption. These are very general insights but if they encourage you to start asking more questions from the data then we have done our job.
We are now starting to see a few brands and their agencies becoming switched on to tracking social engagement data. Historical analysis and trend reports tend to be quite established already in marketing, but engagement data can be delivered in real time and offer a competitive advantage. Instead of seeing what has happened, you can start to build a model that will predict what will happen, you can start to ask questions from the data. It’s still early days in this area and incorporating this into existing workflows is a bottleneck, but it’s also a great opportunity. Looking at data requires an open mind, because often you won’t even know the question you want to ask until you have spent some time analysing it.
Steve has spent the last ten years using data to help understand, explain and predict people’s behaviour. As a Media Data Analyst at EzyInsights, he examines the effects of Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm on news publishers across the world. He works with publishers and broadcasters across the Nordics and Europe, guest lectures at the Swedish School of Social Science (Sockom) and gives various talks and interviews focused on Facebook’s influence on how we see the world. Originally from London, Steve is based in Helsinki, Finland