You can learn a lot about social media metrics by watching classic teen movies and TV shows. Anybody who has seen the show 'Glee' or the classic movie 'The Breakfast Club' knows that there's much more to success than being popular.

The same holds true for brands.

In social media, popularity is no substitute for strategy. And yet according to a recent ANA study, over 80% of US marketers rely on popularity-based metrics, such as Likes and shares, to measure the effectiveness of their social content.

Does Popularity Matter?

Popularity is an important social media metric, but it's not necessarily a true indicator of brand strength. For example, with over 4 million followers on Twitter, BlackBerry is a more popular brand than Coca-Cola, Nike, or Victoria's Secret.

Looking to boost your popularity score? Post a picture of a kitten (ideally doing something cute like playing the piano) or ask people to tell you their favorite color, and you're sure to see a surge of Likes, shares, and comments. But achieving popularity can come at the cost of building a strong social narrative.

Every Facebook timeline, Twitter feed, or Instagram gallery is an opportunity to build an engaging social brand narrative—a story created by the cumulative impact of social media posts. The medium may be short-form, but the potential to use social media as a channel for developing long-term story arcs has gone untapped by most brands.

Going Beyond the Popularity Contest

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image of Martyn Tipping

Martyn Tipping is CEO of Brand Chorus, the social business intelligence practice of brand consultancy, TippingGardner, and home of StoryScore.

LinkedIn: Martyn Tipping

Twitter: @metip