Online engagement: how to get it, and how to prove you did

Marketing people have been talking about engagement lately. I should know, I’m reading the stuff.

What is up with engagement?

Social Media Engagement - Are The Sparks Flying Yet?
Social Media Engagement:
Are The Sparks Flying Yet?

Businesses seem to be figuring out that just getting clicks isn’t getting their products sold.

Now this may seem obvious to any of us who have in fact clicked, faved, or liked, or been asked to do so. If you have a business, you need to get a number of people to develop a serious interest in what you have to offer.

How do you get people to engage?

After reading up on content marketing and engagement for a few weeks I must say I still haven’t seen anything which looks like a good answer to the central issue: getting customers’ permanent interest in a brand. No wedding bells on the horizon, unless they’ve been keeping it quiet like certain celebs try to do.

The only thing which seems interesting is agile engagement, but it sounds like a lot of work – and to be quite honest, the details look a lot like the things marketers have been doing all along, but under a different name.

This is a recent post  by Sarah Skerik (PR Newswire) which keeps it relatively simple. Check out the 6 tips in the lower half of the post to see if you’re doing any or all of those things.

A few tips of my own:

  • If you have started to build a presence on relevant social networks, the worst thing you can do is neglect it. You need to keep at it or risk ending up with an account that looks like an empty house. Read my earlier post for tips how to deal with accounts that have drifted from the center of your attention into the twilight zone.
  • Don’t just share the same content to multiple networks – offer extra visual stuff on Pinterest, make sure that your message works in the limited space of Twitter. If you share to a social network, you need to be relevant by the standards of people on that network.

The above should not come as a great surprise if you have a healthy amount of common sense.

How do you measure engagement?

In order to prove that the online budget is well spent – that your efforts are leading to results, you need to measure what we do, and how often. Which begs the question: what is a sure sign that we’re seriously interested?

Sure signs of attention are difficult to come by online. Ideally you would have to see a potential customer’s pupils dilate indicating their interest, but I’m pretty sure turning on the webcam for that purpose would run into serious privacy issues. There are plenty of activities or ‘engagement signals’ that allow you to use less invasive methods.

An interesting contribution was crafted by Econsultancy:

“35 social media KPIs to help measure engagement”

The post contains a list of things you might measure to get some idea of the quantity, as well as the nature, of engagement on your website, blog or fan page. While it is not a list of ways to get engagement, it does yield a few clues on current practices to measure what you’ve got.

A couple of groups of activities that businesses currently measure:

  • One-click engagement: likes, favorites
  • Conversational engagement: comments, questions
  • Sharing: reblogs, (re)tweets

In my next few posts I would like to explore some of the online activities that are currently measured. I will focus on questions like these:

  • What is the nature of the engagement you are actually measuring when you focus on a specific activity? -OR: What is our motivation for doing what we’re doing?
  • What are the limitations and downright problematic aspects of using these statistics?
  • And how can you (attempt to) work around those issues?

By focusing on one ‘group’ of online activities in each post I hope to come up with at least the glimmerings of an answer to questions like these:

What metrics measure what? How do you define your success on social networks? Do your metrics prove that success? Or are you wasting your time?

> Note: in the past week or so I’ve written quite a lot more about the whole ‘social media engagement’ or ‘online engagement’ subject. It is turning into a series all by itself. I’ll probably publish twice a week and hope that what is evolving right now will be useful to you. If you have any questions for me, let me know.

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