Last month I gave a presentation to William & Mary’s Social Media User’s Group on Facebook Insights and audience reach. A few folks in the group had voiced concerns about Facebook’s latest round of updates that appeared to reduce the aforementioned reach of a Page’s posts and requested that we have a meeting where we could learn more about that.

As I was creating the presentation I came to a realization. Although these metrics can certainly be useful in gauging how “successful” a given post is (where success is defined as posts that had the highest number of likes or shares or comments) what really matters in the end is, is what you present to your fans interesting? Is the information you’re providing what they’re looking for from your page (if they’re liking and sharing it, chances are this is the case)? Is what you think is engaging the same as what your fans think is?

Some folks have asked how many followers is a “good” number to have, or how many likes on a post. My response to that question is to actually turn it around and say, how many people do you want to be genuinely interacting with?

Do you remember Shel Silverstein’s poem “Smart“? If not, in the poem a child is given a dollar by his dad and he then trades that dollar for two quarters, “because two is more than one,” then trades those two quarters for three dimes and so on down to five pennies, not realizing that just because he’s accumulating more coins he’s not increasing the value of the money in his hand.

I think this is a (I’m sure unintended by Silverstein) fun analogy for social media. Are the fans you have “valuable”? Are they engaging in conversations with you based on your posts? Are they sharing and commenting on your content (therefore propagating your content to their friends and increasing your Page’s “reach”)? Or did your fans come to your page once to Like it and never return? This is when 100 > 10,000…100 genuinely engaged Facebook fans (or Twitter followers, or LinkedIn connections, or whatever) are more valuable to you than 10,000 indifferent users. Those 100 fans will do more for your page’s visibility with their sharing and liking, bringing your content onto the Timelines of others and thus further propagating your posts, than 10,000 fans who never interact.