In the Headlights: October 2, 2019 Issue

In The Headlights

What is a social network?

This seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Everyone knows what a social network is, and you probably can’t help thinking of names like Facebook or Instagram when the phrase pops into your mind.

But really think about it for a second. The key is that second word, network. Social networks are platforms which derive their value from network effects. If you’re unfamiliar, Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, is widely credited for coining the term network effect. In his example from decades ago, a telephone by itself is useless. Two telephones form a network, albeit a small one, and every new telephone added to the network not only receives value from the network, but provides it as well. Every new phone on the network adds value to everyone who already has a phone. That’s network effect.

Social networks get their value from the network effect. Every new user of Facebook adds theoretical value to every other user of Facebook. This is in contrast to something like a blog, which has an intrinsic value by itself. A blog can exist with no readers. A social network without users literally does not exist. Someone, usually a company, provides a platform, and then has to find users for that platform to create all the content for it.

That aptly describes the social networks you and I think of first, right? Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Instagram. We know these and can recite them from memory.

Now extend your thinking. What else looks like this? What else is a platform where we provide the content and the value?

  • YouTube, of course. People think it’s a video platform, but it’s a video platform, a social network, and a search engine all in one.
  • Github, the developer network. Github provides the tools and platform, but we all provide the code.
  • Stack Overflow, the developer help network.
  • Quora, the Q and A site.
  • Tinder, the dating app, as well as every other dating service in existence.
  • Forums and bulletin boards.
  • User groups.
  • Slack and Discord instances/servers.
  • Spiceworks, the popular IT network.
  • Every adult entertainment network out there where users upload video.
  • Fortnite and any player-versus-player video gaming system.

All these examples are social networks – platforms where users provide the value. So as you think about your social media strategy for the months and years ahead, consider what platforms exist in your industry where like-minded individuals can gather to discuss and share. Nearly every major industry has at least one; if your industry for some reason doesn’t, then you just struck a goldmine – you can create and own it for your industry.

If you’re not sure where yours is in your industry, talk to your subject matter experts inside your company or at industry events. Find out where they spend their time, then start exploring for yourself. Your idea of social networking and social media will grow and so will your opportunities to build relationships in the most relevant contexts available.

The Bright Idea

This week’s Bright Idea is a sit-down chat we had at Content Marketing World with Spin Sucks CEO (and Trust Insights board member) Gini Dietrich, on optimistic perspectives with AI. Watch the 10 minute video on YouTube; note that the conference had some bandwidth issues that caused some skipping in the first two minutes.

Watch the video on YouTube now »

Rear View Mirror Data

In the rear view this week, we’re looking back at the third quarter on Instagram. How did brands and influencers fare in the third quarter?

  • Brands saw their unpaid engagement rate hold steady around 0.43%, while the paid engagement rate was slightly higher at 0.53%.
  • The median unpaid brand post saw 1,224 likes and 11 comments, while the median paid brand post saw 1,313 likes and 9 comments.
  • Brands sponsored approximately 1.48% of posts.
  • Influencers saw their unpaid engagement rate also hold steady at 1.28%, while their paid engagement rate was slightly lower at 1.16%.
  • The median unpaid influencer post saw 4,580 likes and 68 comments, while the median paid influencer post saw 4,375 likes and 57 comments.
  • Influencers sponsored 1.25% of posts.
  • In general, paid influencer content performed less well than unpaid; the reverse was true for brands.

Key takeaways: after the first half of this year, Instagram’s metrics for brands and influencers appear to have leveled off. These numbers are not substantially different than the medians at the very end of June, after the major algorithm change earlier this year in May. Instagram’s engagement rates continue to be relatively low, especially compared to YouTube.

Methodology: Trust Insights extracted 178,039 unique posts from 4,231 influencers with at least 100 followers for the timeframe 2019-07-01 to 2019-09-28. Influencers were provided by Facebook’s Crowdtangle software. Trust Insights extracted 412,282 unique posts from 3,992 brands with at least for the timeframe 2019-07-01 to 2019-09-28. Brands were provided by Facebook’s Crowdtangle software and augmented by Trust Insights staff. The most recent three days of data were removed to allow for post engagements to mature. Stories of any kind are not included in the API Facebook provides, and thus are not reflected in this data.

In Case You Missed It
Shiny Objects

Shiny Objects is a roundup of the best content you and others have written and shared in the last week. We’ve temporarily done away with the one sentence summaries because they didn’t really add any value. Let us know if you feel differently.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Business and Leadership

Join the Club

Are you a member of our free, private Slack group, Analytics for Marketers? Join 500 like-minded marketers who care about data and measuring their success. Membership is free – join today.

Upcoming Events

Where can you find us in person?

  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, October 2019, Washington, DC
  • Social Media Marketing World, March 2020, San Diego, CA

Going to a conference we should know about? Reach out!

FTC Disclosure: Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, Trust Insights receives financial compensation for promoting them.

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