What’s the story behind those spikes in social media engagement?

In this guest post, business analyst Surbhi Kumar examines what drives spikes in social media engagement, how to read the analytics and how to determine if your content, comments or other factors were the trigger.

When you Google ‘Social media listening’, it suggests:

Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the Internet.”

Do companies really assess the way social media gives the real picture? Most of us build weekly and monthly reports generating numbers such as the number of likes, comments, shares, mentions and total positive and/or negative sentiment.

Numbers are good as long as they’re concrete and factual. They are great for the reports that are presented to the leadership team. They help you see when something out of the ordinary happens, and at times the numbers even coincide with the events (a product launch, campaign, seasonality, etc.)

But do you really know what the spike is all about? What is the actual story behind those spikes in engagement that you see? Is it representative of a positive growth?

It’s not just about quantity, it’s also about the quality of engagement.

Sometimes the peak might not be indicative of growth. It might be possible that the comments or mentions are due to only a few set of people.

In similar lines, it might be possible that the spike is due to some irrelevant conversation (not related to the brand or post). In such a case, you’ll definitely see a spike, but is it really the way you want to see the spike?

These conversations could be totally opposite to how you would have expected the audience to interact or talk. The comments or mentions might be negative.

So in cases where you see such peaks, and take actions based on just numbers, it might not be the best way.

thumb_Intermediate-Google-AnalyticsLet’s consider one example.

Consider a technology brand posts a funny video on Facebook (which is not related to the brand) and the post gathers high engagement (say high number of comments). Getting high number of comments does not really mean that people actually liked it.

It might be possible that the comments which drove the high engagement were negative (people did not appreciate or got offended).

Looking at the high volume of engagement, if the social media editor of the brand decides to put another such post, it might not work well for the brand.

While it’s simple to count the likes, comments, mentions or shares, a little more analysis of your social listening reports will give a complete picture.

  1. Filter out noise: Analyse the quality of the conversation, not just numbers. Identify irrelevant comments and remove them;
  2. Identify sentiment: Gauge the sentiment of the people who are commenting. Are they resonating positively with the content? (What percentage of people resonated with your content)?;
  3. Identify the key themes: While analysing the peaks in mentions across various social media platforms (and not just on particular posts), identify all the key themes in the mentions & sentiments specific to them. Also, look for any connections between themes.

Hence, analyzing both qualitative and quantitative, will give a complete picture for better strategic decisions.

Surbhi Kumar is a business analyst – analytics engagements at Fairfax Media


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.