Facebook reporting often comes down to meaningless metrics. The people upstairs want some numbers to justify using social, so things like likes and shares become the focus of reports.
However, these are among the most empty measures of social success. It would be akin to judging your popularity by the number of people at work who say "good morning" to you (that's just something people say, whether they like you or not). Much like a standard "good morning," The Facebook "like" has become an empty gesture, almost a reflex action.
Unfocused Posts = Unwanted Comments
This McDonald's post about having a coke with your best friend was liked over 17,000 times. However, a look into the hundreds of comments shows a lot of dislike. Nearly every comment is focused on people's issues with McDonald's food or service. None of the comments focus on the content of the post at all.
Comments included, "McDonaldz (sic) uses human meat in their food" and, "She found a cockroach in one of the Happy Meals." Not one comment is about sharing a Coke with a friend.
This shows two things:
1) This post does not inspire people to comment on it's content.
2) McDonald's has much deeper issues. People are skeptical about the quality of their food, ingredients and service.
McDonald's could benefit themselves by using these comments to start to create Facebook content addressing some of these controversies. By addressing some of these customer concerns head-on, they could head off some of the discontented customers who are using the brand's other posts as a place to vent.
I noticed that many other brands, such as Best Buy, suffer from the same issues - off-topic comments that reflect dissatisfaction with the brand rather than the post itself.
Of course, the main problem is that many of these brands do have bigger issues - issues they are not being upfront with customers (and like themselves) about. These issues can haunt a brand unless they are addressed.
However, McDonald's post is also poorly structured. It is so ambiguous that it opens itself up to becoming a forum for complaints. This post offers no opportunity to learn anything valuable about your customers, and is - in essence - a waste.
Structure Posts to Keep Conversation On-Topic
Let's look at a post that is well structured from Lay's.
This post asks a question: Which flavor of these chips do the people in your office like best? This sets up the post for on-topic comments, as you have asked readers to make a specific choice. Even if someone writes, "I hate all the flavors," it is still an on-topic comment that tells you something about your audience. None of the posts are off-topic messages like "Lay's puts rats in their chips."
In addition, it creates an opportunity to learn about your customers. Just by reading the comments, it is clear that the Wasabi Ginger chips are the clear favorites. Through this post, Lay's has turned their Facebook page into a giant focus group.
This well-structured Express post also ask fans to make a choice between dresses 1, 2 and 3. This simplifies things even more. You won't get as much rich detail in comments, but it is very useful as a quick measure of customer preference.
Analytics for Measuring Engagement
You don't need to measure results of every single Facebook post that you run. However, you should run a periodic campaign to start to learn something about your fans and start learning how to truly measure engagement on Facebook.
Run a five-piece collection of posts over a week with the understanding that this will serve as your sample size to learn about your audience. Make sure that the posts ask questions and engage. Avoid questions like "Who is ready for Friday?" That doesn't tell you anything about your brand - everybody like Friday. Always think with the end result in mind: "What do I want to learn from my fans with this post?"
Look at the responses:
How did the audience react (positive/negative/neutral)? What percentage of each in responses?
Did they follow the lead of the post or go off-topic? An off-topic response can indicate that your post was not engaging or that your company has some greater issues that are not being addressed.
Who responded to your posts?
Who responded to the most posts? Who responded the most quickly? Finding this information can help you start to build a picture of who your influencers and brand ambassadors are.
These are the people who are going to share your content and help you get around Facebook's pay barrier. Start looking at what posts interest them.
Always Post With Intent
As you move forward with your social planning, always try to gain some sort of insight into your audience. No more posting cute kittens or "Happy Friday." Learn something about your audience, and create real ROI!