Why you shouldn’t rank social media accounts by followers

Social media

This Saturday Paperjam published the first edition of the social media leaderboard in cooperation with Clement & Weyer Consulting, starting with Luxembourgish politicians ranked by their respective ‘leader index’. The leader index is the metric we created to avoid ranking Facebook and Twitter accounts solely by their page likes or followers. Despite the many articles written on the subject, we still see way too many agencies focusing on account followers, rather than more pertinent metrics.

“How many likes do we have?” is a question you hear often enough when starting a conversation with a manager at a company which is just starting to look into optimizing their digital communication strategy. The question is quickly followed by “how do we get more likes?” – and represents the first reason counting likes has become less relevant over time: with hundreds of possibilities to buy likes and followers1, the representativeness of likes and follower counts has drastically decreased.

Another reason not to assess the performance of a social media account only by followers lies in the many algorithms that determine whether your followers will actually see your content. You can have 10.000 fans on Facebook and still not reach even 1% of those users if your content is badly presented and your fans don’t engage with your page. As such having an engaged audience is much more valuable than focusing on a large amount of (potentially) passive users.

Facebook is famous for modifying their algorithms regularly to push pages to not only rely on high like counts2 and Twitter’s success is hugely based on the premise of sharing content with a single mouse-click even if you don’t have a lot of followers. That’s why we use the  ‘leader index‘ to rank the social media accounts in the weekly Paperjam leaderboard: we combine quantity (followers) with quality (fan engagement) to give a more accurate representation of an account on Facebook or Twitter. In our Social Media Competition Report, we chose to rank all accounts based on followers and on fan engagement respectively and define the average of both positions as index for the final ranking.

There are of course different ways to display a leaderboard. But especially if you want to improve your company strategy for digital communications, you need to avoid starting with a wrong premise – only focusing on Facebook page likes or Twitter followers will not get you representative results!

Show 2 footnotes

  1. You can get 5.000 Facebook likes for ~200$, I found an offer to buy 18.000 Twitter followers for 15$
  2. And of course to give page owners a reason to buy ads.

Jerry Weyer

Jerry Weyer co-founded Clement & Weyer Digital Communication Consultants in 2014 and consults European institutions in Luxembourg on social media management. He studied European law at Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg and at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a founding member of Pirate Party Luxembourg and former Co-Chairman of the Pirate Parties International (PPI).

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