In pretty much every client and sector benchmarking analysis we’ve conducted, there’s a common theme: the brands with the largest communities aren’t necessarily the best performers. More often than not, active engagement and not just a large fan base is the key to success.
Looking back over the data that we’ve built up, we’ve consistently found that the popularity and network reach of an organisation (in our PRINT™ methodology, the brand’s social media status) aren’t always reflected in how receptive, interactive and trusted it is (a brand’s engagement potential).
Take our recent analysis of the UK’s leading grocery chains, for example. Marks & Spencer emerged as the best performer overall, but Asda took top honours on our receptiveness scale, so status doesn’t always breed higher levels of engagement. As Asda’s head of social media, Dan Burch, says:
I would rather have 150k of the most engaged fans than 600k who aren’t bothered.
But why does this matter?
The answer lies in the relationship with other measures of business success. In the same analysis, we tracked the link between the engagement potential (receptiveness, interaction and trust) and actual sales of the 10 supermarkets and found a significant positive correlation between them. However, the same was not true for status (popularity and network reach).
Of course, it is better to have both a large and engaged community (to take Dan Burch’s example, 600k of the most engaged fans would be even better), but when it comes to online communities, it’s definitely a case of what you do with it and not how big it is that matters most.