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What is the most important metric on social?

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, metrics have become the compass by which we navigate our success, writes Hashtag’s John Karam

Likes, comments, followers – these are the signposts that have traditionally guided marketers in their quest for digital dominance. But as the sands shift beneath our feet, a new king of metrics emerges, one that reigns supreme in the realm of conversion and sales: shares.

The mirage of likes and comments

In the Middle East, a region burgeoning with digital potential, marketers have long fixated on the mirage of likes and comments. These metrics, while indicative of engagement, are often ephemeral – a fleeting nod of approval that lacks the momentum to propel a brand forward.

They are the applause at the end of a performance, warm but transient. Yet, it’s crucial to recognise that while likes and comments signal that people appreciate your content, they don’t necessarily equate to a willingness to purchase your product or service.

They represent a momentary engagement, not a committed action towards a sale. In the vast marketplace of social media, where attention is fleeting, these metrics are but the first step in a much longer journey towards actual conversion. They are the initial handshake, not the final transaction.

Followers: The caravan of potential

Followers represent the caravan of potential that every marketer in the Middle East wishes to lead. A large following is impressive, a testament to a brand’s reach and influence. Yet, this metric is but a promise, not a guarantee of sales or engagement. It is the crowd that gathers, not the customers who purchase.

In the dynamic landscape of social media algorithms, merely following a page doesn’t ensure that its content will consistently appear on one’s feed. This uncertainty renders followers a vanity metric at times, one that may inflate a brand’s perceived size without necessarily contributing to its active consumer base.

As algorithms prioritise user engagement and content relevance, the sheer number of followers becomes less indicative of a brand’s visibility and more of a superficial indicator of its stature.

Shares: The currency of conversion

Shares stand apart. When a user shares content, they’re not just endorsing a brand; they’re extending its reach, weaving it into the fabric of their own social narrative. Shares are personal recommendations, digital word-of-mouth that carries weight and trust. In the Middle East, where community and word-of-mouth hold significant sway, shares become the currency of conversion.

Content that ignites shares

The question then becomes, what kind of content ignites the desire to share? The answer lies in value and emotion. Content that educates, entertains, or evokes a strong emotional response is share-worthy. It’s the how-to guide that solves a common problem, the heartwarming story of triumph, or the humorous meme that captures a cultural moment. This content doesn’t just get seen; it gets spread.

Views and awareness: The horizon of opportunity

While shares are pivotal for conversion, views are the horizon of opportunity. They represent awareness, the first step in a user’s journey from observer to advocate. Views are the seeds from which the fruits of engagement grow. They are the silent spectators that may one day become the loudest supporters.

Engagement: The oasis of consideration

Engagement, encompassing likes and comments, is the oasis where consideration blooms. It is the dialogue between brand and consumer, the relationship that builds over time.

Engagement is the investment in a community that, while not immediately lucrative, cultivates loyalty and long-term returns.

The convergence of metrics

While each metric holds its own value, shares emerge as the most critical in the vast desert of social media. They are the lifeblood of sales and the endorsement that money can’t buy. As marketers, especially in the culturally rich Middle East, we must strive to create content that is not just seen or liked, but shared. For in the act of sharing, we find the true measure of our social media success.

Remember, the key to a successful social media strategy is understanding the unique value of each metric and crafting content that leverages their strengths. Shares, views and engagement are not solitary travellers in the desert of digital marketing; they are a caravan, each playing a vital role in the journey to success.

By John Karam, Senior Social Media Manager, Hashtag