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Which social media networks drive the best engagement for state tourism DMOs?

Which social media networks drive the best engagement for state tourism DMOs? Doug Schumacher
One of the more challenging tasks in social media analysis is comparing performance across different social networks. Several issues contribute to the difficulty. Networks have different content formats, and resultingly, engage users differently. The have varying engagement mechanisms as part of their user interface. And can have vastly different community sizes.

But at the end of the day, you need a point of comparison.

The fan count to engagement ratio is a common measure for engagement when using publicly available data. And while it’s accuracy lowers when comparing one post to another, when viewed across a longer time period and a number of posts, things start to average out, and it becomes a more interesting metric. One that, while not perfect, does give a sense of what type of engagement brands are able to generate, relative to their community size and posting volume.

So lets look at how this metric applies to the tourism industry, aka DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations).

The data below is for 9 state tourism DMOs for the month of May, 2015. The general formula for this engagement ratio is: Public engagements / number of posts / number of fans. This presents a percentage point figure that will tend to favor smaller community sizes, while at the same time reveal trends between networks that remain consistent across different community sizes.

Relative to that last point, you can see in the chart above how despite significant ranges between the brands within each network, there are still distinct trends between the different networks overall.

Facebook is performing remarkably well given how much larger most brand communities are relative to other networks, and the much publicized issues around the filtered feed problem and brands’ inabilities to reach significant numbers of their fans on a post by post basis. Instagram, with it’s low fan counts and uncluttered UX, is generating remarkable engagement to fan count ratios relative to the other networks. Note the consistently high engagement levels across the brands on Instagram.

Google Plus may be the surprise here, with a strong overall engagement average, although Explore Georgia is really the reason the network is anywhere near the level it is.

YouTube is quite a different animal in the social space, for several reasons. One, much of YouTube’s content isn’t actually consumed on the YouTube site, and secondly, partly because of the first reason, YouTube is not a conversational platform the way other social networks like Facebook and Twitter are. As a result, we use a different formula for YouTube, noted in the chart’s footnote.

As a marketer, to determine which networks are most optimal, you have to weigh several factors along with engagement to fan ratios. One is what’s the size of community I have on each network. Another is how much resources go into generating the content on each network. YouTube and Twitter are two extreme cases.

While engagement to fan ratio certainly isn’t an end-of-the-line metric, it does give a good sense of overall engagement, and is a good starting point for additional exploration into related metrics and the tactics of your industry competitors.

Doug Schumacher is the co-founder of social media content strategy tool Zuum. Zuum reveals a number of key insights into what type of social media content will generate maximum impact for a given industry. His interactive career began in 1996...

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