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to understand the effects of "engaging in the conversation" in social media, Facebook was one of the places where I actually thought "conversation" resulted in better reach-building and marketing effects.
But I was wrong
I looked at two variables available only though Facebook insights (data you can only get when you're the admin of a page): Impressions-per-post and feedback percentage per post. I calculated an impressions-to-likes percentage for each post over the last 12 months for the two large pages I have access to (HubSpot and OnStartups). I then compared that number to the amount of feedback (likes and comments) each post got. I expect to find that they were positively correlated, the more feedback on a post, the most views it got. But all I found was a weak, negative correlation .
I also looked at the relationship between feedback on a post and the number of impressions the next post got, and found the same (non-existant) relationship.
I know many people will bring up EdgeRank , so let's look at that quickly. For those who aren't familiar with it, EdgeRank is an algorithm that determines if an individual person sees a peice of content on Facebook in their newsfeed. It's composed of three variables: a time-decay (the newer the content, the more likely it is to be seen), weight for the type of content (certain kinds of content are more likely to be seen, comments are better than likes, and new "creates" like wall posts and photos are more heavily weighted than comments), and an affinity score between the content creator and the viewer (if the person visits your Facebook page a lot they're more likely to see your content). If I comment or like a specific peice of content on your page, I'm more likely to see your future posts, but it does not mean other people will be more likely to see it.
As the data shows, (and as EdgeRank suggests) the amount of "conversation" that happens on your Facebook posts has nothing to do with the number of people who will see it. Once again, we find that conversations have very little (if anything) to do with reach-building social media marketing effectiveness .