The meaning of “social media engagement” depends on your criteria for “successful engagement.” Figure that out, and you’ll know how to measure it.
The question inspired me to dive into the vast ocean of online content about “engagement”, the holy grail of social media marketing and great inspirer of sporadically insightful blog posts, to find out whether there was an engagement “standard” amongst the social media marketing community.
Here’s what a few of the big heads say:
- Avinash Kaushik Analytics Evangelist for Google: “Engagement is not a metric that anyone understands and even when used it rarely drives the action / improvement on the website.”
- Katie Paine, social media measurement authority, said on socialmediaexplorer.com: “As always it depends on the audience and the goals…If you are Georgia Pacific and you want people to be engaged in the Quilted Nortern brand, its both the percentage of items/tweets etc., that recommend the brand — as in “wiping your butt with Quilted Northern is like wiping your butt with a cloud”– and the number of times consumers defend it — as in “I don’t care if its made out of the foreskin of an endangered species, I want the best for my baby.”
- Jacob Morgan, owner of social business consultancy Chess Media Group: “I always viewed true engagement as a type of collaborative relationship where a conversation or flow of information takes place between a customer and a brand/company – something that hopefully turns into a long term relationship.”
There’s a common theme amongst all of these definitions: interaction.
Engagement is all about the interaction between you and your audience. What that means in more tangible terms depends on who you are, who they are, and where your communication is taking place.
What’s more important to understand is what successful engagement means to you.
What successful engagement means to me is this:
Did you get something from your audience that can make your business better?
“Better” can mean profits, ideas, referrals, recommendations, links, re-tweets, and so on.
One you’ve defined “successful engagement”, you’re in a better place to measure it. Look at where the interaction takes place, pick the metrics that make the most sense for you, track them over time, then show them to your boss to prove how awesomely optimised your brand’s social media presence really is.
What to measure specifically? Here are a few ways to measure interaction across the major platforms, compiled with the help of eConsultancy’s 35 Social Media KPIs to help measure engagement and Amber Naslund’s 10 key engagement metrics to track, plus a few more ideas of my own. It’s also worth looking at the IAB Framework for measuring social media effectiveness for more.
- Twitter: Number of followers, tweets, and re-tweets
- Facebook: Number of fans, likes, wall comments, groups
- YouTube: Number of views, comments
- Social bookmarking (Digg, Delicious): Number of bookmarks
- Website: Number of incoming links, time spent on site, pages per visit, number of direct visitors, non-bounce rate
- Blog: Number of comments, unique commenters, subscribers to RSS feed / email newsletters
- Brand community (e.g. Dell’s IdeaStorm): Number of posts, uploads, profile updates, registered users, contributors, page views
- Community Feedback Site (e.g. UserVoice, Get Satisfaction):Number of suggestions / feedback
Remember, measuring engagement is not the end game. The real challenge is to promote engagement beyond your existing customer base and find new customers to buy your stuff and interact with your brand.
This brings us back to the question at the beginning of this post: what is the difference between sociability and engagement?
Engagement lets you explore the customers you already have; sociability lets you reach the potential customers you haven’t interacted with yet.
In my next post, I’ll dive into why understanding sociability is key to promoting engagement and expanding your customer base.
How do you define engagement? And how do you measure it? Let us know in the comments.
- Toward a definition of engagement [Katie Paine]
- What is engagement and how do we measure it? [Jason Falls]
- Engagement is not a metric, its an excuse [Avinash Kaushik]
Image by mahb via Flickr